Written by Erica Younglove, Reference Librarian at Central Library
If you’re into genealogy, check out the HeritageQuest database for free with your JMRL library card. HeritageQuest is a collection of research materials that contains over 25,000 family records and local histories. This collection has every available U.S. federal census (through 1940), banking and military records, genealogies, and more. It can be found on the JMRL databases page under “Genealogy.”
In case you haven’t used HeritageQuest in a while, it has gotten a makeover. It’s easier to use with a much more graphic interface. Unlike Ancestry, it can be accessed outside the library, which is great because they share a lot of the same information (HeritageQuest is actually provided by Ancestry). It features three primary links on the homepage: Search, Research Aids, and Maps.
If you choose “Search” you will be asked to pick a collection. Searching functions identically to Ancestry, if you are familiar with that. Either way it is very straight forward with easy-to-fill-out forms and easy-to-modify results. “Research Aids” will provide information about how to find materials from a variety of sources. Most records can be exported to your email (the email will come from and link to Ancestry) or saved to your computer.
Maps start at a linked map of the country. When you choose a state you are offered a variety of census maps throughout history (by date) as well as a map of major cities. Countrywide census maps are also available. The state maps make it fun to see how your present county or state came to be. State maps also have downloadable state history guides.
In addition to the three primary categories, the new homepage also provides links to other popular collections. Link directly to: City Directories, 1850 and 1860 Slave Schedules, U.S. Indian Census Rolls, Mortality Schedules, Agricultural and Industrial Schedules, 1890 Veterans Schedule, Census records, Maps, Books, Revolutionary War, and Freedman’s Bank.
HeritageQuest is a great genealogy service that you can access for free with your JMRL library card. Give it a try sometime if you’re interested in exploring your family history.