OC Historical Museum wants to help you create a family tree

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OC Historical Museum wants to help you create a family tree OC Historical Museum wants to help you create a family tree

OCEAN CITY – The Ocean City Historical Museum has long been the best resource for learning about the history of America’s Greatest Family Resort.

Now, with the addition of a digital genealogy course, the historical museum is also becoming a resource for learning about your own family’s history.

“We want to open up a whole new world to people,” said Jeff McGranahan, executive director of the museum. “This really makes history come alive for people.”

The Internet, he said, has revolutionized the search for family history with websites like Ancestry.com, which advertises that it’s as easy as clicking on a leaf.

McGranahan said most people are not aware that the Ocean City Free Public Library has a subscription to Ancestry.com, which is available to anyone with a library card. 

“The trick is you have to be in the library’s computer center to use it, but once you are there, you get access to other useful databases, too,” he said.  “The library has wonderful resources and they would like for them to be utilized more.”

To assist budding genealogists as they dive into this new world, McGranahan will lead a new class, “Genealogy 101: Techniques and Tutorials” 9-10 a.m. Thursdays, Feb. 21 through March 21 in the Ocean City Free Public Library computer center, 1735 Simpson Ave.

The five-week class will provide assistance as those interested navigate the past, online and off, he said. 

“I’ve been doing genealogy professionally since 2001,” McGranahan said.

His personal skill set, he said, involves a love of history, whether it’s the history of a town or the history of a family. He describes himself as part bloodhound and part puzzle-solver.

“I love helping people find their own personal path through history,” he said, adding that he had a natural curiosity about anything to do with the past.

Assisting others and helping them develop a love of history, particularly their family saga, is what it’s all about, he said.  

When he was in fourth grade, McGranahan said he was assigned to create his family tree.

“I didn’t know my maternal grandfather,” he said. “With that assignment I had the opportunity to ask questions and learn more about him and others in my family.”

Fascinated by the process and what he was able to put together, the exercise created a life-long love of all things history.

“The family tree starts the conversation and it’s fascinating,” he said. “It’s so interesting. We’re really very excited to get started.”

Ocean City Historical Museum President Ken Cooper said the museum is very proud to offer its first genealogy class.

“The museum is the history of Ocean City and genealogy is the history of your own family,” he said. “I’ve always said history is important, that you have to know where you’ve been to know where you are going. The same is true of your own family history.

“I think everybody has a desire to know where they came from,” Cooper said. “I know I do. Everybody wants to, but they never really find the time to do it on their own. We’re very lucky to have Jeff here to help us do thing.”

Cooper said that as each generation passes, families can lose some of their history.

“It will be nice for people to have the chance to find their history and record it, and hopefully pass it down,” he said.   

The genealogy workshop is free, but registration is required and space is limited. 

“Space is filling up fast,” McGranahan said. “I’m anticipating the class will be full very soon. We’ve had a great response.”

Those interested should call 609-399-1801 to reserve a seat.  Basic computer skills and experience with the Internet is required, McGranahan said. 

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