Earlier this month, DPLA’s Director for Content Emily Gore and Manager of Special Projects Kenny Whitebloom headed west to Salt Lake City to represent DPLA at RootsTech, the largest family history event in the world. DPLA had a booth in the Exhibit Hall and hosted two sessions, through which we were able to introduce our portal, collections, and resources to over a thousand genealogists and family researchers.
We love connecting with new audiences and were thrilled to have the opportunity to touch base with genealogists and family researchers to chat about their needs, interests, and questions about what DPLA has to offer. DPLA stands out in the field as a free public resource that allows researchers to search the collections of almost 1,800 libraries, archives, and museums around the country all at once. Nearly everyone who passed through our booth was excited about DPLA as a research resource — there was so much interest we ran out of brochures!
We also found that family researchers had great questions for us: Can you search family names? Does DPLA have things like newspapers, letters, or yearbooks? What about essential documents like birth and death records? Answer: Yes! We have collected content in each of these categories from our network of hubs, but what was perhaps most exciting to family researchers about DPLA was the opportunity to dig deeper and add context to the lives of our ancestors.
- What was it like at my ancestor’s local literary club meeting?
- What did downtown Memphis look like in the 1910s when my family lived there?
- What route did my fortune-seeking ancestor take to California during the Gold Rush?
Our presentation sessions allowed us to go even further. We welcomed all levels of researchers, from beginners to pros, and Emily’s slides below demonstrate a few of the ways that DPLA collections hold vast potential for family historians. For example, family bibles, like that of the Whitehead family, can be an invaluable source of birth and death information, particularly for the years before official state documentation. Looking for Civil War-era ancestors? Try searching for regimental records, veterans’ association photos, and scrapbooks:
The App Library also holds some valuable tools for family researchers. Here, Emily shows how DPLA by County and State might be particularly helpful to zero in a a specific place or region that your family hails from. Or, try cross-searching DPLA and Europeana to connect to family resources in Europe!
Thanks to everyone that stopped by our sessions and booth at RootsTech and welcome to the DPLA community!
Let’s stay connected about how DPLA can best serve genealogists and family researchers and we’ll hope to see you at RootsTech 2017!