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Genealogy programs offered to help residents find their roots

CONYERS — Do you know who you are?

More and more Americans are finding the answer to that question aided by new technology that puts genealogical research tools at their fingertips.

Chris Zawadzki, president of the Rockdale Genealogical Society, said people in search of their ancestors no longer have to travel to archives, libraries, churches or other repositories of information in order to do the research.

“I think the information age has helped a lot in helping people find their ancestors,” he said.

Zawadzki will help guide those in search of their forebears through two programs he will conduct at Nancy Guinn Memorial Library in observance of Family History Month. The first is set for Tuesday, Oct. 10, at 6 p.m. and will focus on a review of genealogy software. The program will include a discussion and demonstration of popular software tools used in genealogical research, such as Legacy, Ancestral Quest, Family Historian and more.

The second program, set for noon on Saturday, Oct. 12, will explore the use of Family Tree Maker 2012, a popular computer software program for organizing genealogical records.

Both programs will take place in the library’s lower level meeting room and are free and open to the public.

Zawadzki said the two seminars are spinoffs of family history workshops and classes he’s conducted at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Conyers and for the Rockdale Genealogical Society.

In his own family history research, Zawadzki said he has been able to trace his roots as far back as the 1600s in Germany.

“This was my mother’s father’s German line,” he said. “I was fortunate in that her family stayed resident in a particular area of Germany for 250 years.”

The research that led him to that discovery was all done without traveling to Germany, he said, and he’s also been able to trace his father’s ancestors to Poland. His paternal grandmother was the first member of his family to be born in the United States.

Zawadzki said the expansive collection at the LDS church library in Salt Lake City, Utah, is an invaluable resource for people who are trying to discover their ancestry. The church is in the process of digitizing its collection, which will be made available to the public online in the future, he said.

Living in the Southeast also has genealogical benefits.

“The Southeastern United States is rich in genealogy information,” Zawadzki said. “All up and down the eastern seaboard, the 13 colonies, all those states have great, quality information that has been well preserved, as well.”