216 N Marshall Ave

Litchfield MN 55355


All Pioneerland

While all Pioneerland Library System buildings remain closed to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Curbside Pick-up of library items is available. You may place items on hold using the online catalog. Library staff will call you to schedule a pickup time once your hold is ready. Pickup days/times vary by location. Please contact your library if you have questions or need assistance in using this service.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Researching Your Family History

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

Have you gotten involved in researching your ancestors? We get many people from near and far who come into our library to work on their genealogy. The main attraction is our collection of local newspaper microfilm and our modern microfilm reader, purchased last year with a grant from the Minnesota Historical Society. If you’ve had experience printing from microfilm or microfiche on an old reader, you’ll appreciate how nice it is to use a computer and regular printer instead. You can even save images from the microfilm to your memory stick or email them from our computer, if you can access your email away from home.

We have a collection of microfilmed newspapers from 1871 to 2008: Meeker County News, Litchfield News Ledger, Litchfield Saturday Review, Litchfield Independent, and the Litchfield Independent Review. We also have the Meeker County Old Settlers’ Association Papers and a few local census documents on microfilm, adding up to about 140 rolls in our collection. If you’d like to use microfilm of newspapers from other locations around Minnesota, we can help you order those from the Minnesota Historical Society. They’ll loan them out for use in our library.

We have a small collection of local history books for use in the library, also. One that is used frequently is Meeker County, Minnesota cemeteries, compiled by Diane Rosenow, copyright 1993. It’s actually a two-volume index to people buried in Meeker County cemeteries. We have a few other local history, biography, and plat book volumes, mostly stored behind the desk. Ask a staff member for assistance if you’d like to use these or the microfilm.

To get to the real genealogy experts in town, walk a half a block north from the library and visit the Meeker County Historical Society Museum/GAR Hall. They are open Tuesday to Sunday, noon to 4 p.m. They offer an obituary database, a cemetery database, plat books, school records, military records, high school yearbooks, and a fee-based genealogy research service.

If you’d like to learn some general techniques of genealogy research or find some new sources, you can take a look in our library at some books like the following, or just browse the 929 section:

The genealogist’s address book: state and local resources: with special resources including ethnic & religious organizations. Bentley, Elizabeth Petty. c2009.

Tracing your Irish family history. Adolph, Anthony. c2009.

Tracing your family history: The complete guide to locating your ancestors and finding out where you came from. Hull, Lise. c2006.

You can search our library catalog or catalogs in other libraries using subject headings like these:

• Genealogy

• Minnesota – Genealogy

• Cemeteries

• Registers of births, etc.

Finally, there are many good internet resources now, which have made genealogy research much easier than it used to be. The big one is Family Search,, which is a massive genealogy database from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It’s free to use and available to anyone, regardless of religious affiliation. is another huge collection of genealogy resources, from scans of original census records to family trees that members have created from their own research. You have to pay for a membership, but they offer a free trial, and they have a collection of free records at Rootsweb,

We have a handout listing these resources and more next to our microfilm reader. Pick up a copy if you’d like to find some places to get started with your family research.