Genealogy #9: Heading Out on the Road, part 5

Heading Out on the Road, part 5

4. Libraries

Libraries are as varied as the towns in which you find them.
If you’re lucky, the library will have a genealogy section.
It’s not always labeled as such, so ask.

Sometimes the genealogy section will be crammed with books, binders, and files, all filled with loads of  historical information from the area.
Some sections are mostly just holding stuff passed along from the courthouse.
Sometimes the genealogy section is limited to a few books written about genealogy.
It totally depends.

Within a dedicated genealogy section, look for such things as:
transcribed cemeteries (these list everyone buried in the area, which cemetery, and often crucial directions on how to locate nearby small graveyards);
obituary listings (sometimes these have been cut out and preserved by locals, like a scrapbook);
historical books (these contain local stories and morsels of information relating to historic happenings and settlers of the area. Sometimes they include short biographic articles of local pioneers. Even though they may not be 100% accurate, it may provide you with new clues on where to search next for your family);
census indexes/census books;
phone books (these can be fun to look through, and if you find your ancestors, they often list occupations, along with their current street address. Don’t miss checking out the ads of the time period, too);
tax books/land records.

Sometimes you will luck out, and find a librarian or genealogist wiling to help answer questions or offer suggestions.
More often than not, you will be totally on your own.
A copier may be available, or may not. Depends on the library.

5. Genealogy/Historic Societies

These societies are a mixed bag.

Sometimes you will find lots of worthwhile information and assistance.
Sometimes you won’t.
It can vary from time of year to time of day to day of the week.

Call ahead of time, or check online to know what days and hours they are open.
Each location is different.
Remember that the folks who work at these societies are all volunteers, so treat them kindly.

Also, be prepared for anything!
When I was doing some research in Virginia, I found myself going to a town I had not intended to visit, but now needed to.
I called, but the society was closed.  I left a message on the machine, anyway.
To my surprise, I got a call back that day, stating the curate would be at the society for the next 90 minutes, if I cared to drop by.
I ended up with an unexpected tour of the premises, and left with a great deal of information on some ancestorrs that I would not have today had I not simply called and left a message.

Lesson learned. Call. Ask. Give people the chance to help you, if they can.

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