Residents learn to ‘rediscover their past’ with help of town clerk

By Lisa Stone - ReminderNews
Manchester - posted Wed., Aug. 14, 2013
Town Clerk Joseph Camposeo takes questions from the group. Photos by Lisa Stone.
Town Clerk Joseph Camposeo takes questions from the group. Photos by Lisa Stone.

During a free program at Mary Cheney Library on Aug. 12, Manchester’s town clerk, Joseph Camposeo, demonstrated how to research your genealogical history through the town’s records.

The Howroyd Room at the Cheney Library played host to more than 20 interested individuals who listened to tips on how to trace their family histories. “The town clerks want to help you find whatever information you may be looking for. You just need to understand that there are rules and that many town clerks wear several hats. It would be helpful to have an idea of where you would like to begin,” said Camposeo. “Make a list of names that you are sure are part of your family tree and go from there. Have an idea of how far back you want to go and write down any information that may help with the search.”

The Freedom of Information Act gives people the right to look up any public record, but due to privacy law changes, the town clerks are supposed to find the information and bring it out of the records room. People are no longer able to go into the records room and just look around. Camposeo recommends that people avoid going to the clerk’s office between noon and 1 p.m., since that seems to be the busiest time for the office due to people going there during lunch breaks.

“Agencies are now buying public information and selling it. This is a concern for the town clerks because it may interfere with the service of free information to our residents. You can access public information online,” said Camposeo. “Go to your town’s website and look up ‘Town Clerk’s Records.’ If you are looking for Manchester’s information, go to www.connecticut-townclerks-records.com. If you are looking for information prior to 1823, you may have to look at East Hartford or Hartford’s records, since Manchester was still a part of the city or town.”

Many people took notes and asked questions. Camposeo advised the audience to contact The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on Hillstown Road in Manchester. “They have great genealogists and they are very friendly and helpful. They really do care about helping you find what you need,” he said. “On November 30, there will be eight to 10 genealogists coming to the library to assist you in finding your lineage. This will be free of charge as well.”

Librarian Kathy Lee arranged this event. “Our theme is ‘Rediscover your past.’ This event was right on target,” she said. To learn about more programs being offered by the library, visit the website library.townofmanchester.org/.


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