Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Have You Checked the Local Library?

We've all made use of the usual web sites for finding information on our ancestors (FamilySearch, Ancestry, Findmypast, national archives, etc.) but have you checked the local libraries in the towns and cities that they lived in?

Recently I've been doing research on the family of my aunt's husband's line. One of the tricky things with his line is his last name is "England". You can just imagine the challenge of using Google or the usual newspaper archives to find mentions of his family without the country popping up and polluting my results. Even if I included the towns or cities they lived in (Thorold, St. Catherines, Niagara Falls) as part of the search it was still overwhelming to filter through all the results when trying to search for a possible obituary or mention of a person.

So I decided to try the web sites of the various public libraries in the area of the former Welland county where these places are all located. What I found was a treasure trove of most likely little used resources by family history researchers ... indexes to names found in various collections.

For example, in the Niagara Falls Public Library they have a database with birth, marriage, and death indexes from the Daily Record, the Evening Review, and the Review. Suddenly I have a list in which newspaper, the date and even page an obituary can be found. The Welland Public Library has a Genealogy database of names that points to the reference material that the library holds. The St. Catherines Public Library also has an index from the various newspapers where you can search for names and other topics. Sure I might have to visit those libraries in person to view the articles but at least I know something exists. Just knowing that something exists is an important part of our research. Add the information you find to your to-do list (you do have a to-do list right?) and plan a genealogy road trip for some time in the future.

Some of the librarians will even look up a piece of information if enough detail is provided. By enough details, I mean the newspaper, date and page where the information is located. But you must be polite when making the request since they are doing you, an out of towner, a favour in retrieving the information.

Additionally, some libraries are also working with their local genealogy societies to house the material that the societies have gathered over the years.

So I ask you ... have you visited your local library and perused their genealogy collection? I know that each time I go to the Main and Nepean Centrepointe branches of the Ottawa Public Library I find another book that has another useful tidbit of information that helps me along in my journey.

1 comment:

  1. Good advice Ken. I`ve found the remote public library will email you a copy of the article if you have the exact reference, often at no cost. In Ottawa we`re fortunate to have LAC`s newspaper microfilm collection.