This could be the year to finally fill in your ancestry blanks. You could do it with the help of friendly experts and the resources of the largest library of its kind in the world.
It could happen with a fully arranged small-group tour.
The one-week tour is organized by the Heritage Library of Hilton Head, which plans this trip once a year. The 2015 version will take place Aug. 30 through Sept. 5, but space is limited and the registration deadline is May 22.
Participants will have five days at the world-renowned Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, with access to vital records (including military and tax, deeds and wills) from the United States, Canada and beyond. It is the largest genealogical library in the world.
According to www.familysearch.org, the majority of records housed in the library are information about people who lived before 1930.
Nowhere else can be found such a vast amount of records – with researchers to help guests sort it out. Admission, workshops and assistance are free.
Last year’s participants began with mixed levels of genealogical experience. They were able to search and find on their own, occasionally with on-the-spot assistance.
Not everyone found everything they looked for, but even that brought clarity. As one put it: “I discovered that I am not descended from English nobility, as my father had always claimed.”
Heritage Library executive director Linda Piekut, who describes herself as a “relatively experienced but slightly lazy genealogist,” went on last year’s trip.
“I was excited by the wealth of information that was available to me through books, classes and microfilm,” Piekut said. “The orientation session beforehand made me focus on the particular areas I wanted to research so that I didn’t fall into my old habit of wandering through the books and wasting my time.”
Piekut got an extra treat. “I was especially lucky because I actually met a cousin who is an elder of the Mormon church who was working at the library,” she said. “He was able to take me back four additional generations into Germany. Also, the docents on the international floor were extremely knowledgeable and knew websites to search that I would never find on my own.”
In addition to time at the library, the package includes a pre-trip orientation at the Heritage Library by Jan Alpert, a past president of the National Genealogical Society.
Travel arrangements include a Delta Airlines round trip, six nights at the Salt Lake Plaza Hotel (next door to the Family History Library), a pizza party, an evening group meal, a private question and answer session, and shuttles between airport and hotel.
For more information about the trip, visit www.heritagelib.org or call 843-686-6560.
For more information about the library, visit www.familysearch.org/ locations/saltlakecity-library.