The rest of us regret not asking our grandmothers,” a volunteer says.
At the end of May the Statesman Journal reported on the Oregon State Library and its varied genealogical resources. I didn’t discover the story until finding an old copy of the paper this morning.
Not only does the library collect historical materials and documents for one of its main missions, serving state government, but it also has a huge trove of books, periodicals and computer databases for researching one’s roots, thanks to a partnership with the Willamette Valley Genealogical Society.”
After a new arrangement with Ancestry.com, the site now provides visitors with “free access to 29,000 databases, more than four times the previous number.”
The Ancestry.com deal was a complicated three-way trade that helped the library, which lacked funds or staff to digitize its old periodical index; the genealogy society, which struggled to pay for the basic online subscription to Ancestry.com; and the online service, which is hungry to access new databases.”
Ancestry.com now has a full-time employee at the library “who works deep in the library’s stacks, photographing much of the contents of a card catalog. The cards are an essential tool to locating biographical information in the Oregon Statesman, Capitol Journal, Statesman Journal, Pacific Christian Advocate, The Oregonian and some other sources at the library.
“There are 191 drawers, each containing 950 to 1,450 cards with entries from the late 1800s to the 1980s.” About 2,000 are scanned each day.
The next project will be “photographing certain motor vehicle and military records. Eventually, people all over the world will be able to use the database to request information from the library.”
“With genealogy, you are solving mysteries constantly,” one researcher said.
Volunteer Cliff Butler “loves his stints at the state library, where he has donated more than 1,000 hours.”
But for him, the best part comes in getting beyond the names and dates, to understand the world that those ancestors lived in.
You can really rationalize why you have to travel to Ireland and Oklahoma. You also include the history. Nothing is more dull than looking at family pedigree charts without the history.”