Participants retrace family roots at Family History Day

Family History Day
Posted at 3:58 PM, Nov 27, 2021

NASHVILLE. TENN. (WTVF) — Normally, when you walk into a library, you expect to read someone else's story. But at the Tennessee State Library and Archives, participants got to retrace their own family's history.

Dozens of people listened to two morning seminars, that focused on different resources available for genealogical research. "Newspaper articles, death certificates, all that stuff. You come up with a few surprises that you didn’t know about," said Beverly Lee, a participant from Tullahoma.

Lee started sifting through all sorts of search inside the Tennessee Reading Room on her great-grandmother. "My mother always told me she never knew her grandmother, so that was the first step," said Lee.

Beverly says she's always been curious why their family tree essentially stopped when they got to her mother's grandmother. She found her answer. "She had been adopted by a family here in Nashville," said Lee.

Now she has a whole new branch of her family to explore. Gordon Belt is one of the many state archive employees that guide guests through the rows of research material. "Find those missing pieces of the puzzle," said Belt. "We’re not professional genealogists, but we’re professional researchers. And so we kind of know where the information is so that you can do your research."

You don't have to attend a genealogy type event to get access to this type of research. Anybody who's a resident of Tennessee has access to the archives Tuesday-Saturday from 8 am to 4:30 pm.

Larry Matthews Bay started his family research, merely out of curiosity. "It’s never ending, really," he said. "I always knew there was something more to it."

But Matthews Bay discovered something about his background that he never really expected. "We’re not black," he told us. "I’m taking pictures of it and sending it back to my aunts and uncles because they didn’t know a lot of the history either."

Only proving that even after our family has passed on, there's always a chance to learn something new. "We shouldn’t make judgments on people, we should just let history tell the story and go from there, because we weren’t there," said Lee.