Visit our FamilySearch Center located on the fourth floor of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Volunteers will provide free, personalized assistance in tracing your ancestors. The library is open to everyone, from beginners to advanced genealogists.
Each family holds many stories
What will you discover? You have four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, sixteen great-great grandparents—there are a lot of potential stories! Some could have been prominent citizen in their communities. Other will be difficult to learn about, and odds are good that a few made some bad life decisions or have a tragic story—try to respect them all. Aspiring to find a collection of impressive ancestors is not always the best end goal. Instead, we honor our ancestors by learning to live in a way that reflects well on them.
Preparing for your visit
Volunteers will help you organize your information and will show you how to search census records, the Social Security Death index, and other record groups. They will also suggest future searches you can conduct on your own. While you don't necessarily need to prepare for your visit in advance, bringing some preliminary information with you will enhance your experience:
- Bring any known names, maiden names, birth places and approximate birth/death dates of your parents, grandparents and even great-grandparents.
- Ask your relatives for any family stories or folklore.
Garage Parking: The nearest public parking garage is located below the museum in the Central Riverfront Parking Garage* (Race Street entrance recommended). This garage is fully accessible via elevators.
*Parking rates may vary to due to games, concerts or special events.
Street Parking: Limited, metered street parking is available adjacent to the museum. Guests may use pay machines or download the Cincy EZPark app.
The John Parker Library and FamilySearch Center is free and open to the public.
Hours: Wednesday - Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.*
*Due to the extensive nature of our research, last appointments begin at 3:15 p.m. for a 45 minute session. If no patrons are present at 3:30 p.m., the library may close early.
For questions or to make an appointment*
Give us a call at (513) 333-7654 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Appointments are strongly recommended to ensure a volunteer is available to assist you. Appointments will take precedence over walk-ins.
Groups are also welcome by appointment.
Please call (513) 333-7654 at least one week in advance so our volunteers can prepare for your visit.
Visiting this center is a great place to get started with family research. If you can't visit in person, here are some tools to get you started...
General Research Tips
You’ll get the best understanding of the lives of your ancestors by combining oral history with public records research and local history about the place your ancestors lived. So try different avenues of research: talk to an elderly aunt, post a query to an electronic bulletin board, join a local historical society, visit your state archives, place flowers on an ancestor’s grave. The more you look, the more you will discover.
Remember to keep a record of your work – a simple notebook is fine. Note the dates of interviews with family members, and keep complete citations (author, title, etc.) for any books and articles you consult. And if you want to use a computer program to keep track of your data, you can download a FREE program called “Personal Ancestral File” from FamilySearch.org.
Tips for Collecting Family Oral History
- Don’t worry right now about “how far back you can get”— start with what you already know, write it down, and gradually work back to earlier generations.
- Seek out old photographs for clues to direct your search.
- The best source of family history is always family. Interview your parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. Remember that your family is larger than you think – your parents’ first cousins will also have information about earlier generations.
- If you have a very elderly relative, don’t wait to talk until next year. Even when people are healthy, memories fade.
- Have pencils (to easily correct) and plenty of paper handy to take notes.
- For in-person interviews, make sure your relative is comfortable. Take notes and record the conversation if possible. Be aware that video cameras make some feel people self-conscious, so they may not open up as quickly.
- Ask open-ended questions that can’t be answered with a simple yes or no. Need ideas? Download a list of sample history questions below.
- If the person you are interviewing starts to become defensive or upset, do not press them – change the subject to more comfortable territory.
- Pay attention to small details, like names of places and distant cousins.
- After your interview, type out a detailed summary of what you learned. Do this right away while the interview is fresh in your mind—there may be portions of the notes or recording which are unclear
- Be aware that it is unusual to get the best stories from your first interview. Reflect on what you learn, discuss with other family members, and then set up a follow-up conversation!