Family History Research Starts in the Topeka Room

If you are researching your family history, you need to look up – up to the second floor of the library. A journey to the second floor will reveal the historically decorated Topeka Room, a new tech Genealogy Center, and librarians who specialize in providing the resources necessary to explore your family tree.

Librarians Donna Rae Pearson, Shari Schawo, Brea Black, and Charity Rouse are specialists in local history and are available to assist both amateur and professional genealogists with both the print and online tools available at the library without costly subscription fees.

One of the basic research resources for genealogists is the obituary. Obituary records can often provide you with basic information about a person’s birth, death, marriage, children, and burial.

“Our Obituary Index is one of the most valued research tools,” Schawo said. “Our index helps hundreds of people every year in the search for their ancestors and loved ones. We receive requests locally from Topekans and from people around the world. We recently received a request from Denmark.”

The Topeka Room has more than 170,000 obituaries indexed from Topeka newspapers from 1906 to present and is available 24/7 online. You may request a copy of the obituary be sent to you. There is a fee ($5-$25) if you don’t live in Kansas.

Multiple genealogy research tools like Fold 3, Heritage Quest and Genealogy Connect are available online from our database files. Genealogists who visit the library can attend free beginning genealogy classes and use Ancestry Library Edition for free. You will also discover numerous print resources including local high school yearbooks and city directories.

“The library is your place,” Schawo said. “We want to be the best, first and most accessible choice for you to do your genealogy and local history research.”

Diana is the communications & marketing director. She spends her days managing all the library’s communications and marketing strategies that help connect people to library resources, services and happenings. A seasoned professional, she has been telling stories in print, digital, video and live broadcast formats for three decades.