AMESBURY — People looking to know more about their family history can get a head start on their education when the Amesbury Carriage Museum hosts genealogist Melanie McComb on Aug. 21. 

“This idea of learning about family stories and local history is essential to our program,” Carriage Museum Executive Director John Mayer said. “We know that we have an audience of people who are interested in local history. So we want to do what we can to encourage community involvement in this process.”

The free “Getting Started in Family History” presentation will take place at the Nicholas J. Costello Transportation Building, 68 Elm St., on from 7  to 8:30 p.m.

“I hope to give everyone some starting points and show them first steps,” said McComb, a member of the American Ancestors and New England Historic Genealogical Society. “If you want to trace your family, how do you go about it?”

McComb said her presentation is designed to show people how to find some of their family information and to enjoy the process along the way.

“There is nothing more frustrating than when you start researching your family’s history and you hit brick wall after brick wall,” she said. “I want to be able to show people how to work their way from the unknown to the known.”

With genealogical websites such as and becoming more popular, the genealogy presentation is an opportunity to share the methods people use to explore their own family trees, according to Mayer.

“In a way, we want to support the thrill of learning about your families and local history and stories from the past,” he said.

Mayer said the Boston-based American Ancestors and New England Historic Genealogical Society is one of the country’s leading genealogical studies organizations, but he has also enlisted the help of the Peabody Essex Heritage Museum, which will be sending Meaghan Wright, a reference assistant in the Phillips Library in Rowley.

Wright is expected to talk about the types of resources available at the Phillips Library for students of genealogy.

“I suspect we will also have some literature from our local libraries, like the Amesbury, Newburyport and Salisbury Public Libraries,” he said. “Even the Historical Society of Old Newbury.”

Mayer said the presentation is an effort by the Carriage Museum to be supportive and collaborative of similar organizations.

“That way, we can build a groundswell of interest in this kind of history,” he said. “We want to encourage people to get involved. We want to bring in people that have this kind of expertise to Amesbury. I think that’s a fabulous thing and is just part of the Carriage Museum program.”

Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.