Sunday, January 10, 2010

52 Weeks To Better Genealogy - Challenge 2

Go to your local public library branch again. Examine the local history, archives and/or special collections section. Ask a librarian if you don’t know if your library has special collections or where they are located. Be sure to check the reference section, too, as many of the newer and more valuable books are held in that area. If you have a genealogy blog, write about what you find in your library’s local history and special collections.

I did not participate last week in the go to the library and search out books you might need for your research, because I have volunteered at the library since 1993 and have pretty much used all the books and microfilms they have.

This week I am supposed to go check out any Special Collections at the library, and our library has a wonderful special collection in the climate controlled Northwest Room. This collection started early in the 1900s when the librarian of that time George W. Fuller started collecting any books or manuscripts he could find on the northwest. The collection consists of books, maps, directories, periodicals, and archival materials on the history, exploration and settlement of the northwest. Including Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and British Columbia in Canada.
Gladys Smith Puckett the librarian from 1937 to 1960 also collected more northwest materials. They also have a picture of the first building to occupy that piece of land in the downtown, a passenger depot for the electric railroad to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.
The Northwest room is in the downtown Spokane Library and due to budget cuts is not open all the hours that the downtown library is open, so check the open times before coming to the library. They do not allow coats or backpacks in the Northwest Room, and pencils only.

I have used that collection quite a bit and it is a great collection of materials that pertain to the northwest. They also have a subject index for the newspaper from 1880 to 1920 done by the WPA during the depression. None of the materials there can be checked out and quite a few are so old they will not let you make copies and degrade the materials more.


  1. Hello Charles,
    These librarians who devote themselves to creating specialized collections like these are a real godsend to the rest of us.
    I was thinking about that a lot last summer when I was reading Thomas Cahill's "How The Irish Saved Civilization".
    The major idea I got out of it, was how much we owe to people in different societies and in different moments in time who conserve our heritage.
    That's what Fuller is doing - and also in a smaller way those of us who are compiling our family histories.
    Thank you for prompting this reflection.
    Evelyn in Montreal

  2. Evelyn Thanks for the comment, Yes the Fuller collection is wonderful and they continue to add to the holdings there as budgets allow. The best part is the wonderful climate controlled room that will keep those materials in good shape for many years to come.

  3. Your special collection sounds wonderful. It sounds like if you had your roots in that area, you would be able to spend hours researching in there. Also sounds like history majors in college should make good use of this collection.
    Thanks for sharing.



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