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Discover the Amazing History of Your Family Online
(Published: May 10, 2011)

Genealogy is one of the most popular hobbies in America today - and the Tennessee Electronic Library (TEL) is the place to get started with genealogical research.

Through the library’s web site, Tennesseans can discover their family histories with HeritageQuest, an easy-to-search collection of genealogical and historical sources that goes back to the 1700s. Search by name, year or location to find family information.

HeritageQuest includes Census records going back to 1790, more than 28,000 digitized genealogy and local history books, and Revolutionary War records. It also provides access to the Freedman’s Bank Records, an invaluable collection that gives clues to tracing African American ancestors prior to and immediately after the Civil War.

TEL is administered by the Tennessee State Library and Archives, which is part of the Office of the Secretary of State.

“Genealogy is a very personal way to study history,” Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. “It can lead to many exciting discoveries. It’s also a powerful history lesson for today’s children to see the changes that have occurred in America over the last 200 years.”

In many cases, ancestors left paper trails that can be followed today.

“One of the best ways to search for ancestors is to start with yourself and work backwards,” said TEL coordinator Wendy Cornelisen. “HeritageQuest lets anyone in Tennessee start searches from the comfort of their homes.”

To get started with HeritageQuest, look for the “Genealogy” button at www.tntel.info or visit a local library for free Internet access and instructions.

The Tennessee Electronic Library is funded by the Tennessee General Assembly and the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services. For more information about the resources available through TEL, e-mail: tel.tsla@tn.gov