RootsTech 2015

Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Saturday, August 16, 2014

What I found in the neighborhood

As I began my genealogical research many years ago, I slowly became aware of a number of books about or associated with my Great-grandfather, Henry Martin Tanner. The author of the books was my Great-uncle, George S. Tanner. As I became aware of several books he had written, I wondered where all of his background material had disappeared to. Here are some of his books and publications.
  • Tanner, George S., and J. Morris Richards. Colonization on the Little Colorado: The Joseph City Region. Flagstaff: Northland Press, 1977.
  • Tanner, George S. John Tanner and His Family: A History-Biography of John Tanner of Lake George, New York, Born August 15, 1778, Hopkinton, Rhode Island, Died April 13, 1850, at South Cottonwood, Utah. Salt Lake City: John Tanner Family, 1974.
  • Tanner, George S. Henry Martin Tanner, Joseph City, Arizona Pioneer. [Moscow, Idaho]: G.S. Tanner, 1964.
  • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and George S. Tanner. Minutes of the Little Colorado Stake. 1973.
  • Tanner, George S. Comparative Christian Religions. Salt Lake City: L.D.S. Dept. of Education, 1939.
  • Tanner, George S. The Religious Environment in Which Mormonism Arose. Thesis (M.A.)--University of Chicago, Dept. of Church History, 1931.
  • Tanner, George S. John Bushman Diaries. S.l: s.n.], 1969.
My inquiries as to the location of his background papers were inconclusive, until I found this entry in WorldCat.org:
Tanner, George S. Mormon Settlements in Arizona Collection. J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah, n.d. .
Apparently, since my initial discovery of this collection, the entire collection has now been restricted by the University of Utah library. However, there are several references to the entire collection in other online catalogs. I also found a copy of the papers in the Cline Library Special Collections and Archives at Northern Arizona University. Recently, I found another interesting source for information about the papers in the Northwest Digital Archives. The inventory, now restricted at the University of Utah, is on this website as follows: Inventory of the George S. Tanner papers 1912-1992. Here is a description of the collection:
The George S. Tanner papers (1912-1992) contain personal and family materials related to George Tanner, a teacher and historian. Included are correspondence, arranged chronologically and alphabetically; biographies and autobiographies; journals and family histories; financial and medical records; writings and speeches; newsletters and news clippings; programs and brochures; and materials relating to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). Original folder titles have been used whenever possible. Boxes 22-35 hold materials such as correspondence, reports, news articles and newsletters, writings, and biographical and genealogical information relating to the individuals or families listed. Maiden names have been used for several of the women listed. Dates are included when available. Writings by Tanner have been separated from those writings he collected and are located in boxes 18 and 45-46, respectively. A large portion of the materials in this collection are photocopies of original documents dating from the 19th century.
I have no idea who managed to get this huge collection restricted, but its existence points out an extremely important issue for genealogists: look to the information about the neighborhood where your ancestors lived. It also makes me very interested in going to the University of Utah and finding out the reason for the restriction.

The point here is that there may be huge amounts of information available about the areas where your ancestors lived locked up in libraries, archives and museums. It may even be difficult to gain access to the collections for a variety of reasons, some of which may seem arbitrary and capricious. There is really very little direct information about my Great-grandfather, but there is a huge amount of 2nd hand information from neighbors, friends and descendants. It is time to think neighborhoods.

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