Cultural Heritage

En Espanol

Tracing family roots and exploring cultural heritage is often spurred by a child’s school project. Use the library as a starting point for researching your roots or discovering new cultures.


  • Ask a librarian for help in getting started. A librarian can demonstrate how to develop a search strategy for tracing your family tree and help navigate through census, church, cemetery and vital records.
  • Check to see what online genealogy database subscriptions the library has that you can access for free with a library card.
  • Introduce books to your kids that portray diverse cultural experiences. Look for books with awards such as the Pura Belpré Award (Latino/Latina experience) or the Coretta Scott King Book Award (African American experience), for example.
  • Libraries offer programs for families on many different subjects. Check to see what upcoming programs or author visits might help your family learn about different cultures.


  • Chronicle your own family’s stories. Interview each other, then move on to grandparents, aunts and uncles, etc. Write interview questions together and audio- or videotape the interviews.
Father Bruno with children he saved from the Holocaust

When and how should you talk to your children about the Holocaust? Librarians and teachers agree that introducing kids to the Holocaust and to the magnitude of evil human beings are capable of inflicting on other human beings does not begin with the horrifying details and images of genocide. Instead it begins with the teaching of tolerance for those who are different from us.

Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge

The library is a great place to explore your cultural heritage through such culinary traditions as recipes.

Libraries offer programs and materials for families on many different subjects. These programs offer valuable opportunities for parents and grandparents to connect with children and grandchildren in sharing family traditions.

And among this country’s most important traditions are its culinary ones. Some of the happiest memories revolve around family meals, whether it is the backyard barbecue or the traditional Thanksgiving meal.

Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.

“I’m related to Marco Polo. Do you have a book about his relatives? Oh, and I have to catch a train to New Jersey in an hour.”  I would sometimes get requests like this when I was a librarian in the history and genealogy division of the New York Public Library 25 years ago.  You really couldn't do very much in an hour then--but you sure can now!

Genealogy research can be divided into two eras: before the internet and after.

Christmas is a popular celebration across the world. But did you know that other cultures have their own winter festivals? Some are celebrated for religious reasons, but some simply honor nature’s transition from fall to winter.

Here is a sampling of winter holidays from around the world. Ask your librarian to help you find books, movies or audio books to help you learn more.

Italy’s Epiphany

Native American in head dress

You probably remember the classic Thanksgiving story of American Indians and Pilgrims sharing a meal of corn, turkey and potatoes. But, did you know that those same American Indians are called Wampanoags, a tribe that lived for thousands of years in what is today coastal Massachusetts and Rhode Island?

Today, hundreds of other Native American cultures stretch from coast-to-coast. Each has its own tribal language and dialect that is unique to their people.

Family celebrating the 4th of July

Celebrating the Fourth of July is one of the best parts about summer. You get to barbecue with your family, watch fireworks, go to a parade—take part in all the fun summer activities.

Grandparents with kids

How much do you know about your grandparents? Although your grandma and grandpa may know your favorite book, food and place to go, do you know theirs?

Learn more about your grandparents by inviting them to take you to the library.

You can start by asking them to share their favorite book with you. Find out why it is their favorite book and who their favorite character in the book is.