Workshop to dig into family history

Kennedy Nolen, Multicultural Reporter

Students will have the chance to research their family genealogy at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in Booth Library in the Witters Conference Room 4440.

The workshop is called “Finding Yourself: Using Archives to Research Your Family Genealogy.”

Cayla Wagner, a graduate student studying historical administration, will teach an introduction on how to do genealogy and how to use the Illinois Regional Archives Depository located in Booth Library.

She said she wants students to see options other than to find birth, death and marriage certificates.

She said she has been interested in studying her family’s genealogy for the past four or five years, and she wanted to help other people learn about their families, as well.

“It is important to know where you came from and where you’re going,” she said. “If you have a better sense of yourself, you have a better sense of history.”

She said knowing your own family history is cool and exciting.

The workshop is an extension of a new exhibit in the Marvin Foyer inside Booth Library called “A Question of History: Public History in Illinois.”

Most of the archives came from museums in Springfield and the Coles County Historical Society, Wagner said.

Wagner said her favorite item on display is a gigantic book of soldiers’ and sailors’ signatures from the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, also known as the World’s Fair, which took place in Chicago.

The signatures are from people from all over the country, and “it is cool to see people point out where they are from,” Wagner said.

Another item on display is a guestbook from the Lincoln Home National Historic site, where Abraham Lincoln lived from 1844 to 1861 before his presidency.

Wagner said she likes it so much because one of the people who signed it was a man who was freed from slavery by the Emancipation Proclamation issued by Abraham Lincoln.

Another of Wagner’s favorite items is the time capsule buried next to Old Main in 1895 and dug up in 1995.

Wagner encourages students to attend her workshop Wednesday because she said family history is important.

Wagner said the most interesting thing she found out about her family was that she has a grandfather who served with one of Mary Todd Lincoln’s great uncles in the Revolutionary War.

“I am a huge Lincoln fan,” Wagner said.

If students are interested in learning about their family history, registration for “Finding Yourself” is recommended but not required. To register, students can contact Elizabeth Papp at [email protected].

Kennedy Nolen can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].