Byron Holdiman, education specialist at Quincy University, presented “Hidden Treasures in the Library of Congress” at RootsTech National Genealogy Conference on March 2, in Salt Lake City, UT. RootsTech is a global family history event where people of all ages learn to discover, share and celebrate their family connections across generations through technology.

Holdiman spent the past 13 years working with the Library of Congress on a grant funded project at California University of Pennsylvania and Quincy University, helping teachers use historical documents in classrooms to engage their students. While helping teachers with a presentation for the Illinois Reading Conference, he discovered that one of the photos their students found was of his great, great grandfather he had never seen before.

“I started thinking, if this is in the Library of Congress, what else is available on the website that is about my family?” Holdiman said.

Besides books, the Library of Congress has 51 million free online resources including photos, sound recordings, oral history narratives and newspaper articles. Holdiman’s presentation walks users through the process of using biographical details to search the website for family photos, recordings and historical facts.

“Each piece of paper in that place, each picture, is about a person, and that person could be your family,” says Holdiman.

A recording of the presentation can be found at