July 26, 2006 - Posted at 1:18 p.m. CDT
POPLAR BLUFF, MO -- Finding out about our past isn't always an easy task. Tracing your family tree can mean digging through old records and asking loved ones to rely on memories. But a new tool in Missouri is helping those studying genealogy bring their family history to light.
"Genealogy has a way of sneaking in and grabbing a hold and then it's like an obsession," said Joyce Drew, "You have to find out, we'll just who did grandma marry? And what happened to him? We'll then you want to know who his parents were? We'll did you know that he was in the Revolutionary War? You know and it just goes on and on."
The hunt for family history is bringing more people to places like the Official Butler County Archives in Poplar Bluff. Here lies a wealth of information of public records, kept since Butler County was organized in 1849.
"Used to, the only way you could get your information was order a microfilm reel and find a place where you could look at it and hunt person by person. Most of it has been indexed online now. So you just pretty much type in your person's name and hopefully you'll find it," said Drew, who works as the Archive Manager.
The Missouri State Archives created an online index of more than two million Missouri Certificates from 1910 to 1955, making it easier for people in Region 8 to research their family trees. Users can also search a new online index of death certificates.
"You tie in another name, another family and pretty soon you come to find, you know, that we're almost all related," laughed Darlene McNeelis a volunteer who helps organize the documents.
One of the first steps to take when trying to find out more information on your family tree is to do an oral history with your parents. Then you should check that information against the most recent census.
"What most researchers are interested in is when did the divorce occur? Or, were my people here? May I look at the tax books, these kind of things, is what most researchers or genealogist are interested in," said Drew.