Thursday, March 12, 2015

One of the Least Used Genealogy Resources

As more people come to the party known as family history and genealogy research the majority start their hobby with on-line resources. There are many sites on the Internet that help facilitate that research by permitting people to quickly find records such as:
  • census enumerations
  • civil birth, marriage, and death registrations
  • parish baptism, marriage, and funeral records
  • passenger lists
  • border crossing forms
  • military records
  • city directories
  • electoral rolls

Yet that only scratches the surface of what is available. The various archives, libraries, and museums are a treasure trove of those hidden gems that often contain the answers to our brick walls. I've mentioned in past posts the need to Check the Local Library and have often mentioned the collections at Library and Archives Canada.

However there is one resource that is often not used. This resource is not a document or microfilm. It isn't composed of paper, plastic, or celluloid. Rather this resource consists of the amazing Librarians and Archivists in those brick and mortar, glass and steel, and concrete buildings that I keep encouraging you to visit.

Maybe you are visiting a library in a town where your ancestors settled. You think you know the exact book you want to consult since your found that book in one of the online catalogues such as WorldCat or on the library's own web site. So you head over to the genealogy section, read the applicable pages in the book and then you are done right?

Not even close!

Before going to that book you should have dropped by the reference desk and said hello to the Librarian. Then you should have let them know what you are researching and if they might be able to point you to what they have in their collection that can help you in your quest.

That is how I met up with another researcher who just happened to be researching the same family line I was interested in. The Librarian brought me over to the genealogy section and made the introductions. We were then able to compare notes, help each other out, and save time by not duplicating our research efforts.

Maybe you have a brick wall and you have looked everywhere in the library or archive. Actually that should be you think you have looked everywhere. Walk over to the reference desk and ask if they have a moment to help you out. Explain your problem and where you have looked. You may just be amazed to find out you really haven't looked everywhere. You see the Librarians and Archivists know their collections. They will ask some probing questions, maybe even check their computer or card catalogue (yes, these still exist), and then take you to the document or book that you didn't even know existed.

So make use of that wonderful resource known as the Librarian or Archivist!


  1. I had help from a local librarian who helped me find an overgrown cemetery in Beacon, NY, that I never would have found without that librarian's help. See a blog post about it at From Maine to Kentucky.

  2. I'm guilty of this. I just wanted to tell you that I've included your post in my NoteWorthy Reads post this week:

  3. I have enjoyed the helpfulness and knowledge of several librarians and volunteers at historical societies. Thank you for this post.