Blog > 5 resources for helping you find your family history

Posted January 15, 2020

By Colleen Vander Hye – Adult Services Librarian

Have you ever thought about tracing your family history? Family members will likely have some of the answers to get that family tree started, but after that, where do you go to find out more?

The Matteson Area Public library has online resources that Matteson Library card holders can use anywhere there is Wi-Fi.  Everyone else is welcome to come into the library to access them.  Our Resources are found at

Here is a list of some of the resources you can access:

  • African American Heritage –  African American census records, vital records, free(d) and slave records,
  • Chicago Tribune Historical Newspaper 1849-1996
  • Fold 3– Military records, city directories.
  • HeritageQuest – sources for more than 60 countries, with coverage dating back as early as the 1700s.
  • – 556 million+ pages of historical newspapers from 16,200+ newspapers from around the United States and beyond.

The only resource that you cannot access at home is Ancestry Library edition. It is only available at the library.   Come in and discover your roots at the library!  Begin exploring by searching a surname.  It’s as easy as that.  Anyone can come to the library to search through our databases that contain more than a billion names – some that reach as far back as the 1400s.

To get the most out of your experience, come prepared with a list of ancestors to research.  Make a list of the names of every direct ancestor you can think of.  Census data, birth, marriage, and death records, military records, Social Security death records, and immigration lists are all available for searching.  These records provide clues to the past – places where ancestors lived, names of relatives, birth or death dates – that lead to more information.

You may also find these websites helpful:

Principles of Family History Research

Getting Started: Tips to Help You on Your Way

Unlocking the mystery to your own family history is a rewarding experience that challenges your research skills and results in answers that have personal meaning.  The pieces of your family puzzle can create a full picture of your family’s story.

Genealogy 101 is offered the first Thursday of the month at 10:00 AM. The Family Ties Genealogy club meets on the third Monday at 6:30 PM. Check the calendar for changes due to Monday holidays.  Call the library’s Adult Services Department at 708 748-4431, with any questions or to sign up for these events.

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