The Hoyt Public Library in Saginaw, Michigan
In family history research, when it is discovered that a family lived in a particular town for an extensive length of time, contacting the local library and historical society can be a great investment of a genealogist’s time and potentially yield great dividends. For instance, when we found that a family lived in Saginaw County, Michigan for over three generations, we looked at the Saginaw County library website to see what resources they offered. Come to find out, they offer an excellent obituary index compiled from the old local newspapers. We searched the index by the ancestor’s surname and came up with nine pertinent obituaries. These obituaries provided priceless information about family members.
For another research project, we found that a family lived in Bristol, Pennsylvania for three generations. We contacted the local museum and the curator was able to answer questions about cemetery locations and provide a detailed history of a still-standing masonic lodge, a building used by the family we were researching.
|Library in Brigham City, Utah|
In another case, the Brigham City (Utah) library had a copy of a master’s thesis wherein the writer explained the culture of the town at the turn of the nineteenth century, shedding light on the actions of a particular family that lived in the town at that time. Also of value was the thesis bibliography that contained a gold mine of otherwise unknown resources.
During other research, a librarian at the Mason County (Texas) Library turned out to be a member of the historical commission who was able to locate a crucial marriage document because she was familiar with what records were available and how to access them. The librarian also scoured other records for mentions of the surname under research, finding additional information. She was also able offer a theory for the actions of a young, nineteenth-century mother, who left her children behind and moved east to the Louisiana/Texas border and died shortly thereafter. Knowing local culture and geography, the librarian explained what probably happened, pointing us in a new direction of research.
Local libraries and historical societies are invaluable resources for gathering genealogy information, as they are staffed by friendly individuals who are passionate about their communities and willing to help disseminate information.