COVID-19 and Your Genealogy Hobby

August 5, 2020

With some of you (like me), the work-at-home piles have invaded every room of the house, and the hobbies have taken a back seat. For the better organized among us, this might be a time to take advantage of all the genealogical resources out there that we haven’t had time for before.

The new Ohio Genealogical Society website – – is up and running. Be sure to check out the Website User Manual to do your initial login so that you can access all the digitized material. Take the time to explore each section of the site and see how searches work. You might discover things that you didn’t know we had in the library.

Many online resources have opened up during this pandemic that may not be free or as easily available to users when this is over. Genealogists should take advantage of these. We have used the Internet Archive for years – – but did you know that over a million of these titles have been dropped into something called the National Emergency Library? This includes local historical and genealogical works. Since physical collections are for the most part not available now, they are taking a wider view of copyright and allowing access to protected works online during the COVID-19 emergency. Although we are now well into our sixth month of the pandemic, the books in the National Emergency Library may still be utilized – but just one user (per title) at a time. Try searching the NEL –

Our own digital resources are now searchable as whole. Try out our Genealogical Resources, especially the Digitized Books, Digital Manuscripts, Library Special Collections, and External Links. Besides our own offerings, many digital works are linked through our library catalog – try searching for “hdl” and you’ll get a few hundred digitized titles. Click on the link in the catalog record and you can view the work through the Library of Congress.

Have you heard of Zoom? They either had a good marketing department or their success was by chance if the first newscaster to do a story about virtual meetings was familiar with this product. There are many other companies out there. Even if you are not computer savvy, go to and click on Sign Up, It’s Free. Once you are registered, try Host a Meeting. Contact a friend, set up a time, and see if it works! It helps if you have a camera in your desktop, tablet or phone. Imagine making a Power Point or slide show of all your old family pictures on a particular line, contact your DNA or paper trail cousins that you have never met, and go through the photos and talk back and forth about them. What a fun quarantine activity.

So, take a few minutes, study the new OGS website, and try some of these other electronic resources, some of which might be available only a few more weeks for free. Stay safe out there!

– Tom Neel, Library Director