How library cardholders in Polk County can explore their ancestry for free


Good morning, Lakeland. Or should I say jó reggelt? It’s Kaylee – and this week, I discovered through an DNA test that I’m actually 50% Ashkenazi Jewish + that my great-grandfather immigrated to the US from Hungary. 

Though the DNA panel was certainly interesting – catch me perusing Lake Balaton summer homes while listening to Franz Liszt – what was really fascinating was all of the family history I uncovered using the genealogy tools on Ancestry’s website. 

Typically, you’d need to purchase a membership in order to search the company’s database of 1.2 billion records, but Polk County library cardholders can search the records for free. All you need to do is head to this page, enter your library card number, and boom – you’re ready to go. 

So, what’s out there? The database includes records from the US Census, UK census, immigration records, obituary notices, U.S. military sources + much more. #ProTip: Figure out some basic information about your immediate family to make your search easier.

Here are my favorite personal findings:

Source: World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

From my dad’s side of the family – I found this WWII draft card from the 1940s, which my Great-Grandfather, Moris, filled out to enlist in the military at 41-years-old. Though I’m not entirely sure if he ever served, what I do know that both he and my great-grandmother, Sarah, became American citizens after immigrating from Hungary and started their own farm in Connecticut, all while raising three children.


From my
mom’s side of the family – I was able to locate the cemetery where my Great-Grandfather, William, and Great-Grandmother, Julia are buried. William (whose parents immigrated from Scotland) lived in Michigan, where he worked as a farmer, earning $380 ($7,220 in today’s dollars) a year. 

Not really knowing too much about my ancestry to begin with, it felt so surreal being able to find out this info –– and especially learning that I come from a long line of farmers. 🌾 If you make any cool discoveries while exploring this free local tool, I’d love to hear about them. Share them with me in an email to [email protected].

Forward this conversation to all your pals that spent their time during the COVID-19 lockdown pruning + growing their family tree. 🌳