Saturday, 25 February 2012

52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy - Week 8 - Genealogy Libraries

Week 8 - Genealogy Libraries - Genealogy libraries (and dedicated departments in regular libraries) are true treasures in the family history community. Tell us about your favourite genealogy library. What makes it special?

Challenge open from Sunday February 19th  - Saturday 25th February 2012

Over the years I have encountered several genealogical library treasures. The first was based at Guildford Surrey. My home town. When I started researching Surrey Archives were split between three venues
  • Surrey Records Office based at Kingston Upon Thames
  • Local Studies Library at Guildford Library. 
  • Guildford Muniments Room attached to the Library
The Local Studies library held a huge archive. Situated on the top floor of the main library next to the huge reference library with lots of study desks. The archives were held in a smaller room and the walls lined with book cabinets with glass fronts above a central dado rail and below there were a series of locked cupboards holding a real set of treasures. Isn't it strange that a locked cupboard has an appeal to it? The library held newspapers on microfilm, Surrey Census Records, Parish Records and Tithe Maps. There was also a huge supply of photographs, books and drawings. 

The Muniments Room, attached to the Museum held the majority of archives for West Surrey, that didn't fit at Kingston. I am not sure what the division of the records was, as records such as Tithe Maps for one parish were at the Library yet another at Kingston - it was a mystery really! 

Also within the confines of the Museum was the library for Surrey Archaeological Society, which was open only to members. All three libraries had a wonderful set of oak cabinets holding index cards with a central metal rod holding all the cards in place. These cards had everything indexed - places, people, villages, businesses - you name they appeared on a card. These were fabulous and I had more than one eureka moment!

Surrey Archives now has a modern super duper Records Centre based at Woking. Now all three collections come together under one roof which is fabulous for researchers, but I still think back to those days in the mid 1980s when I could simply look through the index cards on the back of a hunch. The Archaeological Society is still based at the Museum and still has their indexes. 

The library at Farnham was not a regular haunt for me, but one day whilst in Farnham  I nipped into the library and asked a local questions. I can't even recall what the question was, but I was directed to the local studies room. The moment I heard that sentence I knew that I was in for a treat!  I headed off to the local studies room and the librarian directed me to a filing cabinet. I recall looking for whatever it was that I had asked for then when I had finished I looked in the rest of the cabinet. Well, it was open and how could I resist? 

Inside was a huge set of Poor Law Records, including Bastardy Bonds. Much of my ancestry lies in the confines of the Surrey, Sussex and Hampshire borders, so it is not too unusual to find references for Hampshire parishes - Liphook and Bramshott at archives in Surrey. I was delighted to see that I had stumbled across the Bastardy Bond for a Samuel Harris/Holt and not just any Samuel, but MY Samuel. I was delighted!

There have been other libraries too, one in particular that I recall in Yarram Victoria Australia and The Society of Genealogist Library (SOG) in London. Perhaps another post about these sometime.

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