December 30th, 2009 at 11:33 am (Articles)
Many of the people that I help with genealogy seem to be looking only at census records and obituaries. These are great and very useful, but they may not give you all that you need. Reviewing the information these records give can lead you to the location where your family members actually lived. Once you locate the area that you are looking for be sure to check out the local history.
Contact the local library for starters. Most libraries will have a nice selection of local history books and can usually direct you to which books will be the best for your research. One example is the History of Union Pacific Coal Mines. Our county is well known for its previous coal mines and their history. Many people came earlier this century to work the mines from foreign countries. Listed in the back of the book is the “Members Old Timers’ Association”. This is a list of the members of the U.P. Coal Mines from the late 1800’s to the early 1900’s. I use this book often when doing research. If I do find someone on the list, then I know they were actually in the area and about when. This can be a great help.
Many libraries also keep a “vertical file”, which basically a file cabinet filled with items that are not normally in the available books. This may include photos, maps, oral histories, obituaries, newspaper articles, and much more. The SWCL does keep such a file the “Wyoming Files”. At our library the 3-ring binders do not check out, but you may make photo copies. Please ask at the Front Desk for assistance.
If you family members attended High School in the area, be sure to ask for the old High School annuals. Our library carries some annuals as far back as 1923. The annuals usually will not check out, so be prepared to make photo copies or write the information down. This may spur you on to other areas. Most librarians will have a good knowledge of their collection so don’t be affair to ask questions.
Next try the local museum. You may not walk in and find your relatives right away, but the people working there can usually tell you stories about the area or the era that your family lived. Also ask if they keep an oral history or genealogy file. This is becoming a popular file to keep at many facilities. Also museums often keep large amounts of local photographs of people, businesses, government, scenery, etc. If you are visiting be sure to allow for extra time to view as much as possible. You just might be surprised what you will find.
Many newspaper offices have an archive department and will be willing to do some look-ups for your. Each newspaper works differently so be sure to call ahead. The local libraries often have copies or microfilm versions of the local newspapers. The Sweetwater County Library currently has microfilm of the Green River Star Newspaper from 1907 to current. For requests of the Rock Springs Rocket Miner please contact the Rock Springs Library.
One thing you may be able to try from home before you branch out is to check online for Digitized Newspapers. Here in Wyoming, the Wyoming State Library has prepared for the public the Wyoming Digitized Newspaper Project. They have taken all the old newspapers that they have found and they have prepared them and made them available online for our use. The newspapers run from 1849 to 1922. I use it often to look for obituaries and info for genealogy requests. ( http://www.wyonewspapers.org/ ) Many states in the U.S. and some foreign countries are working on similar projects. Be sure to check online for ones for the area you are researching.