News Flash

Life at the Library

Posted on: January 7, 2020

Discover and preserve your family history at the library

Photo of an old projector and slides.

Do you have photos or memories from loved ones that you want to make sure are preserved for generations to come? Maybe you want to more about your family history but aren't sure where to start? Washington County Library has the equipment, technology and knowledge to help you learn and preserve your history! Check out the resources below to learn about new programs and initiatives throughout our system that may help you preserve those special memories and discover your heritage. 


Convert Old Slides into Digital Photos 

Convert old slides into digital images that can be safely stored and saved electronically! R.H. Stafford Library now has converter equipment to help you take on this project for free. If you'd like to learn more about using the converter and image software, join us at R.H. Stafford Library for the following workshops: 

  • Thursday, Jan. 9, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. - Learn how to convert slides into digital images so they can be safely preserved. We will teach you how to save the memories and you can return to the Create Space in the future to use the converter at your leisure.
  • Thursday, Jan. 16, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. - After you've digitized your memories, learn how to take your images to the next level! Touch up an image using Adobe Photoshop, or make a video with Adobe Premiere Pro. 
  • Thursday, Jan. 23, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. - Instructors will be on hand to offer more tips and tricks using Adobe Creative Suite. 

This program is funded with money from Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. Learn more about these classes and register. 


Record and Preserve Your Stories 

Thanks to funding from the Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, Valley Library now has interview equipment for you to document and preserve your oral history. 

Andrew Maxwell-Parish, a librarian at Valley Library, is using this equipment to preserve the histories of local people and veterans living in the lower St. Croix Valley. Andrew says he has lived in that area for two years, and says each time he was inspired by the interesting stories he would hear from people who lived in the area for long time.

"When I mention the project, a lot of people think they don’t have any special knowledge about this area but I’ve found as soon as you start asking them questions, they have a huge amount of interesting stories," Andrew said. "The interview is really just a conversation and it would be great to record as many of these conversations as possible." The project will focus on:

  • Local History: Longtime residents can record their memories of the area. These interviews can be anything from a single story to discussing decades of experiences living here.
  • Veterans History Project: The Library of Congress has been collecting, preserving, and making accessible the personal accounts of American veterans. Local veterans can record accounts of their service to be submitted to the Library of Congress collection.
  • Family History: Anyone can schedule a time to record their own family histories. Audio and video equipment is available to use in the Valley Library conference room.

If you live in the Lower St. Croix Valley area or know someone who does, we would love to hear your stories! 

Schedule an interview time online, stop by Valley Library, or call 651-436-5882 to sign up.


Research Your Genealogy in the Library 

Come to your nearest Washington County Library branch and use our workstations to access these genealogy databases. Our friendly librarians can help you access these resources and assist you with your research. 

  • Ancestry Library Edition: Research your family history and access digitized images of the U.S. Census, passenger and immigration lists, genealogical indexes, and much more.
  • NewsBank: Search archives of the Duluth News-Tribune, Rochester Post-Bulletin, St. Paul Pioneer Press, and Star Tribune.


Learn More About Your Family History

Unlock these databases from the comfort of your home, using the power of your Washington County Library card!

  • ArchiveGrid: Search through historical documents, personal papers, and family histories held in archives around the world.
  • Historical Minneapolis Tribune (1867-1922): Search for articles and digital reproductions of the Minneapolis Tribune from 1867-1922.
  • Historical New York Times: Search for digital reproductions and articles from the New York Times from 1851-2008. 
  • Minnesota Digital Newspaper Hub: Search Minnesota newspaper articles from the Minnesota Historical Society archives. Find geographically and culturally diverse newspapers published between 1856 and today.

Find even more resources on our website!

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