Workshops for research: If walls could talk …

Mary Pom ClaiborneDowntown, Our Town Youth

Researching family history is one of the most popular past times today. So much of our family stories can be found in newspapers, records and documents. And for people living in an historic home, it can be fascinating to learn about the original and former residents. But how to get started unearthing these stories is another question. The Calvin M. McClung Historical Collection and the Knox County Archives at the East Tennessee History Center are providing workshops this Spring to help jumpstart a view into the past.

Workshop: Historic Roots–A Guide to Understanding and Tracing African American Lineage 

1 p.m., Saturday, February 25, 2023 

ETHC Auditorium, first floor 

Coinciding with Black History Month, this program will explore strategies for tracing African American lineage and identifying accurate sources, such as the 1870 US Census, deeds, probate files and Freedman’s records. Discussion will also center on how DNA testing, maps, oral interviews, family reunions, church records and research trips may assist in your historic journey. Instructor: Dationa “Day” Mitchell, JD, AB, historical researcher.

Workshop: Researching the History of Your House 

6 p.m., Tuesday, March 14, 2023 

McClung Classroom 

If a house’s walls could talk, what would they tell you? This session introduces participants to techniques and resources for discovering the history of houses. Participants are encouraged to bring information that they have already collected about their own house to the session. Instructor: Vicky Bills, reference librarian, Calvin M. McClung Historical Collection, Knox County Public Library.

Workshop: Finding Her Story Through Genealogy 

1 p.m., Saturday, March 25, 2023 

ETHC Auditorium 

Coinciding with Women’s History Month, this workshop will explore resources for researching, documenting and interpreting women’s stories, as well as hints on how to overcome challenges inherent to women’s history. Instructor: Lisa Norwood Oakley, vice president/curator of education, East Tennessee Historical Society.

Workshop: Historic Newspapers Online

6 p.m., Tuesday, April 11, 2023 

McClung Classroom, third floor 

Historic newspapers are secondary sources that can provide both genealogical and biographical information. Participants in this session will discover techniques for searching digitized newspapers online, including repositories on Chronicling America and The session will focus on Tennessee newspapers. Instructor: Eric Head, Knox County Archives, Knox County Public Library.

Workshop: Applying to First Families of Tennessee

1 p.m., Sunday, April 29, 2023 

McClung Classroom, third floor

Membership in First Families of Tennessee is tied to proof of descent from an ancestor who was in what is now Tennessee by 1796. This workshop will explore strategies for proving early residences, documenting generations and connecting to established lines. Instructor: Ann Blomquist, editor, Tennessee Ancestors, East Tennessee Historical Society.

Mary Pom Claiborne is assistant director for marketing, communications and development for Knox County Public Library

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