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

Monday, February 20, 2012

Lessons in Genealogy from 1915 Part Two

At the time the Lessons in Genealogy book was written the big event of the year was the International Congress of Genealogy held in July, 1915 in conjunction with the San Francisco World's Fair. The Utah delegation made up nearly half of the delegates to the Congress. The proceedings of the Congress are digitized online on

By this time, the Utah Genealogical Society (UGS) was also printing the Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine which began publication in 1910.
Copies of the Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine are on Google Books in their entirety. They make for some interesting reading. The real question is whether the monumental changes in technology since that time have fundamentally altered the methodology of genealogy or are merely facilitating what is a fundamental way of doing the research?

Back to the Lessons book. Page 9 of the Lessons book talks about some of the resources that were available at the time, albeit in the east and a long way by train from Utah. Here is another excerpt from the Lessons book:
The librarian of the Newberry Library of Chicago tells us that they have in that library about 6,000 volumes upon genealogy proper, besides about 3,000 volumes of town history, many of which contain genealogical matter; and about 600 volumes on heraldry and peerage. They have a wonderfully complete index in this library which contains approximately 1,000,000 names. The Library of Congress contains about 4,500 genealogical volumes, besides a large number of works bearing on genealogical matters.
The first American work on genealogy was published in 1771. The second in 1787. The third in 1813. In 1874 a total of 400 genealogical works was listed. From that time to the present this class of publications has greatly increased. Every year sees a large number added to the list. The New England society has been instrumental in having printed 137 volumes of vital records of towns in the state of Massachusetts, and this good work is still going on. Other American societies are actively gathering, preserving, and publishing genealogical matter. Thousands of individuals have been moved upon to spend much money and years of time to gather \ their family records and issue them in printed form.
 There is no question that record availability is a major factor in the changes since 1915. For example, the Newberry Library now has over 17,000 published genealogies and extensive collections of local histories, census records, military records, and periodicals. The collection in the Library of Congress has grown enormously with has more than 50,000 genealogies and 100,000 local histories. The collections are especially strong in North American, British Isles, and German sources.

Much of this increased reference material is being made available online. But does record availability really change the way you do genealogy? For example, the Library of Congress has all of these thousands of records, when was the last time you used the resources of the Library of Congress?

In 1915, the UGS, the past predecessor of FamilySearch had a library of 3,000 volumes. Today the Family History Library, in its modern building in Salt Lake City, Utah, is the home of a collection that includes over 2.4 million rolls of microfilmed genealogical records; 727,000 microfiche; 356,000 books, serials, and other formats; over 4,500 periodicals and 3,725 electronic resources.

When was the last time you used the resources of the Family History Library? The point is simple. Record availability will not affect the way you do genealogy if you do not use the records.

More about the Lessons in Genealogy from 1915 in future posts. 

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