Jumping Feet First Into History

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Jumping Feet First into History

Often, a connection to the past is the only thing keeping a family together.

Over the last 23 years, more and more people have come to the Bridgeport Public Library to research their family tree. At first, many sought ties to old New England and their Mayflower ancestors. But genealogy, especially here in the cultural melting pot of Bridgeport, goes far beyond the Mayflower.

A tremendous amount of people trace their roots from Europe, to Ellis Island, right here to Bridgeport, and they’re looking for that connection back to the Old Country. Maybe they had a family member who left Austria in 1935, and the last letter they received was from Bridgeport. Maybe they just want to know a little more about the life their ancestors lived 100 years ago.

Researchers may have no idea who their grandmother is…or even their father! But with a little question-and-answer session, we can assist patrons in jumping feet first into their history. And we can come up with some answers.

Today, a whole new audience of researchers comes in to the Bridgeport Public Library, inspired by programs like Henry Gates’ “Faces of America” on PBS and the ABC show “Who Do You Think You Are.” They want to learn who they are by finding out who their relatives — dead or alive — are.

We have Internet resources such as Ancestry.com available for free here at the library. We have books, magazines, newspapers, photographs, films — many reaching back decades, even centuries.

Our many tools will help you climb your family tree.

Our hours at the Bridgeport History Center are Thursday through Saturday, 10-5 pm. Call (203) 576-7417 for further information.

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About Author

Mary K. Witkowski is the former Bridgeport City Historian and the Department Head of the Bridgeport History Center, Emeritus. She is the author of Bridgeport at Work, and the co-author with Bruce Williams of Bridgeport on the Sound. Mary has had a newspaper column in the Bridgeport News, a blog for the Connecticut Post, and a weekly spot on WICC. She continues to be involved in many community based activities and initiatives on local history and historic preservation.

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