Discovering Local Genealogy at Manatee County Historical Records Library – SRQ Daily Sep 12, 2019 – SRQ Magazine


If genealogical DNA testing kits like 23andMe and FamilyTreeDNA seem a bit too intrusive, a more local genealogy research workshop will be taking place next weekend a little closer to home. Located inside a 1918 Carnegie Library, the Manatee County Historical Records Library will present a workshop to offer visitors access to governmental records dating back to 1855, in hopes to make the library more of an educational showplace rather than just a research facility. While this type of genealogical investigating won’t be able to tell an individual’s ethnic mixture down to specific locations, it may very well verify ancestral relationships and family history. 

“Our goal is to help people understand and appreciate the past,” says Cathy Slusser, director of historical resources at the Manatee County Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller. “We have a variety of documents on display and available for individuals researching Manatee County’s people and property. We even have old yearbooks that have some wonderful photographs, too.” From deed books, marriage licenses, probate files, court records and County Commission minute books, to aerial maps, Sanborn Fire Insurance maps, historic maps, plat maps, tax cards, general directories, school attendance records and voter registration books, visitors are welcomed to uncover their narrative lineage.  

During the workshop, the staff will provide a tour of the library and discuss how to use the resources available for its visitors, from 9am to 10am. Following the tour, historians will be available to help participants research their own Manatee County family history or another local historical topic. “We make stories come alive,” says Angel Colonneso, the Manatee County Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller. “During this workshop, we will help attendees make their own stories more relevant.”

A few years ago, Colonneso recalls a man coming in to search for information about his grandparents and found that his father had a younger brother who died and was buried in the Palmetto Cemetery. The man’s father had never told him about the younger brother. “We were able to help him draw some conclusions about the child’s death,” she says. “It was deeply touching to him.”

All research must be based within the Manatee County region, which also includes Desoto County, Hardee County, Highlands County, Glades County and Charlotte County, from the years 1855-1887, as well as Sarasota County, from years 1855-1921. “We are proud of the documents that we have collected, and grateful to the historians and genealogists who worked to save them,” says Colonneso. “There is nothing like holding the marriage license or the last will and testament of your ancestors to make you appreciate your family and your past.”

Local Genealogy Workshop, Saturday, September 21, 9:00AM-12:00PM