Letter L: Twelfth of twenty-six posts in the April 2016 Blogging From A to Z Challenge. Wish me luck and please join me on the journey!
Online family history research is great — but because there are still so few genealogical resources that have been digitized, library research leads continue to play a significant role in my ancestral journey. And that’s fine.
Some of my most valuable clues and evidence have come from libraries — and the wonderful librarians who work there — both on road trips and by phone. Here are just a few examples.
Pictured is the Gloversville Free Library, which my mom and I visited in August 1991 on a family history trip to her home town. There, we consulted city directories that listed our Italian and German ancestors.
Even better, we met a librarian who knew Lucy Edel — a cousin of my great grandmother Celia (Mimm) Stoutner, who my mom said, “could have been her twin.”
She told us Lucy was a career librarian at the Free Library and was very proud that she earned enough money to buy her own house. Now that’s not a story you will find on the Internet!
My dad and I made a similar trip to his Otter Lake home town in August 1991. At the Irwin Library and Institute in Boonville, Oneida County, N.Y., using an ancient microfilm reader, we found the obituary of our Montréal-born ancestor Laurent Charles Charbonneau — a landmark discovery! Alas, we were not so lucky on that trip learning the name of his spouse.
“His wife? His wife?” Dad fumed when he saw her nameless entry in the list of Laurent’s survivors. “Doesn’t she even get to have her name in the paper?”
Helpful librarians: a phone call away
Calls to libraries have also yielded breakthroughs. The Salamanca Public Library in Cattaraugus County, N.Y., maintains a index of newspaper obituaries. With a phone call to their librarian, I was able to obtain the obituaries of my great, great grandfather Arthur Bull and his mother-in-law, my great, great, great grandmother Hannah (Hance ) Blakeslee.
And when I called a helpful librarian at the Little Falls Public Library in Herkimer County, N.Y., he found and sent me the long-sought-after obituary of my Grand-Uncle Albert B. Charboneau — my paternal grandfather’s brother — who died in the 1918 Influenza Pandemic.
Are there libraries in the towns where your ancestors lived? Check their catalog and resources online, then consider planning a visit to see what genealogical treasures they hold. Not sure where to start? Call their help desk and speak to the librarian. And always send a thank you note, by mail or email, when they help you make a discovery.
Up next: Maps point the way. Please stop back.
© 2016 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.