Big news for Sonoma County genealogists! Ancestry.com is now available at your local branch of the Sonoma County Library System. You will see it on the library's website when you go to the page that shows Heritage Quest, though you will only be able to gain access at the library.
This is a great service and I am sure family history researchers will really appreciate having a chance to make use of Ancestry's many fee-based offerings through the library system's subscription.
So far, I have only done brief research on the 1930 census. My state of interest, California, is not indexed by Heritage Quest, but Ancestry.com has an every-name index for all states. If you feel pressed for time, look for the individual at the library, write down the page number, and then view the image at home, via Heritage Quest. (Be sure to include numbers for the roll, enumeration district, supervisor's district, and sheet. Pagination for this census can be very confusing.)
Ancestry has many more features and I urge you to check them out. It would probably be a good idea to make a plan ahead of time – who and what are you looking for? Does Ancestry have a specific database that might be of help? Write down the relevant information already known about the individual or family or location and leave plenty of space to take notes. (If you are better organized than I am, you will have a "research log" all printed up and ready to go.)
You my have seen an article in the San Francisco Chronicle, Wednesday, May 2, with the headline "Me lonely? Not now, thanks to the ‘family finding' search." Written by Ilene Lelchuk, it may sound a bit far removed from what we genealogy hobbyists are involved in but ... it is not.
San Francisco's child welfare agency has begun a new effort to find family members of foster children whose own parents and nearby kin are not in the picture. The article described it as "a combination of high-tech Internet searches and old-fashioned gumshoe work, to find extended family and family friends who can support such lost children."
The writer says about 22 counties in California, including San Francisco, are trying this approach, and one state legislator wants to make it law.
In the case of one youngster, the search identified some 30 relatives in Oregon, and a welcoming home for him.
Kevin Campbell is credited with initiating the family finding movement about five years ago, and bases his approach partially on the International Red Cross family-tracing techniques. He has also used records from Family History Library in Salt Lake City, and Internet searches.
The full story can be read at sfgate.com.
PS Think how much effort we put into looking for (mostly) dead relatives, as a hobby. Don't you think child welfare agencies could have been a little sharper, sooner, in attempting to locate families for children in their care??