In your research, you have probably visited many archives and libraries and searched every possible set of records in their collections. With that accomplished, you might have felt that you have gathered all you could possibly find there. However, it pays to revisit the places you’ve been to before.
I recently attended a workshop sponsored by the St. Louis Genealogical Society. I do a lot of Missouri research and wanted to know what St. Louis offered besides the downtown St. Louis City Public Library. I had spent many hours in that building doing research. I used to live in the St. Louis area and was quite familiar with the local collections. I had been to the St. Louis County Library and it had hardly anything to speak of. The St. Louis Genealogical Society was housed in a small part of the University City Library and it was confusing to say the least when I was last there 18 years ago. Now, here comes the society sponsoring a workshop in which we would spend a day researching in a facility that I had crossed off my list years ago.
What a shock! The Society and the headquarters facility of the St. Louis County Library had joined forces, and genealogy had taken over the fifth floor. The library in 2001 also entered into partnership with the National Genealogical Society (NGS) to house the NGS circulating collection of over 20,000 books.
While there, I found that the library had valuable records we don’t have at the Family History Library (FHL), and I didn’t have to drive to Clayton (the county seat), search for parking, and pay lots of money for the records that I needed. I printed the record I wanted regarding my grandfather and copied it and others to my flash drive. Eight marriage records cost me a whopping one dollar, and that’s because I wanted a paper copy of grandpa’s second marriage, in addition to an electronic copy. The FHL only has county marriages until 1928, with an index that goes through 1933. The county library had indexes and marriages until 1980! They also had probate and land records that went to the 1970s.
The St. Louis Genealogical Society is an active partner with the library. They have provided the library with microfilmed records for more than 20 St. Louis funeral homes from the late 19th century to the late 20th century. The society had paper copies in their offices in which I found several relatives that died in the St. Louis area. Many of the society’s members provide excellent volunteer assistance at the library.
Both facilities are now on my “to visit” list. I look forward to also being able to revisit the restored St. Louis City Library when its renovations are finished in 2012.
So in researching your ancestors, try revisiting the archives and libraries you checked in the past. You might be pleasantly surprised by the new records you can now find.