Library class

Pam Hertenstein discusses popular genealogy websites at a recent genealogy class at the Athens-Limestone County Public Library.

Discovering your family’s roots and stories can be a fascinating and rewarding hobby. It can also be confusing and frustrating.

Sources can be difficult to track down or vague. Certain branches of the family tree can seem entirely lopped off.

Two passionate genealogists are working with the Athens-Limestone County Public Library to help people navigate the trickiest aspects of family research. Together, Pam Hertenstein and Brenda Calvert have more than 30 years of experience in genealogy.

Four times a month, they teach classes at the library, helping students get the most from popular genealogy websites, discover offline sources, trace immigrant origins and more.

Reflecting on the importance of genealogy, Hertenstein quoted Ira Wolfman, one of her favorite authors of genealogy guide books: “It’s not just about your ancestors, it’s about you. You are part of history. … You have a proud heritage and a history that is all your own.”

Kristopher Reisz, the head of events and programming at the library, sees the classes as part of their larger celebration of Alabama’s bicentennial.

“We have hosted exhibits and lectures focused on Alabama history, with more on the way,” he said. “But the genealogy classes are a great way for people to explore their family history and how it’s woven into that larger tapestry.”

Genealogy classes are held 6:30–7:30 p.m. on the first and third Thursday of each month and 11:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. on the first and third Wednesday of each month. All classes are free.