Janice Sellers, a professional genealogist, learned that her great–grandfather arrived at New York City in 1909 when she found his name on a ship passenger list. At the Central Park Library on Feb. 25, Sellers shared information about immigration and naturalization research techniques to a packed room.
“The main objective for my talk on immigration and naturalization is to educate people about tools that are available that can help them research their families’ histories from when their immigrant ancestors came to this country,” Sellers says. “I’ve been researching my own family history for 40 years. I am passionate about genealogy and love sharing information with other people.”
When Sellers researches family members in the United States, she begins by searching for them in the census.
“All of the U.S. censuses are available to the public on multiple web sites,” Sellers says. “Once I find them in the census and I have some idea of where and when they were born, then I start trying to track down that information. I also research all the family members, not just by direct ancestors. Probably one of the most interesting things I’ve found out about my family is that I’m one of the descendants of the founder of the Dunker Faith, also known as the Church of the Brethren.”
According to Sellers, documents found in the United States that can offer information about an immigrant ancestor include naturalization papers, birth, marriage and death records, voter registrations and the census. She adds that most countries don’t offer many documents online so those who are researching genealogy in another country will have to order documents from record offices or find a researcher in that country.
“The Santa Clara County Historical and Genealogical Society, the library and Santa Clara City Library Foundation and Friends are hosting this joint program as part of Silicon Valley Reads,” says librarian Mary Boyle. “This year’s theme for Silicon Valley Reads is Homeland and Home: The Immigrant Experience.”
The Central Park Library is the go–to place to learn about genealogy and history. On the first Wednesday of the month, Boyle teaches a computer class on genealogy research. On March 17 at 6 p.m., Pamela Erickson will be presenting a program about the genealogies of indentured servants. On April 21 at 6 p.m., Krista Van Laan will talk about architect Frank Delos Wolfe and California prairie architecture.