Monday, September 15, 2008

Representatives of Essential Books in my Genealogical Library

The image below shows a baker's dozen of some of what I consider essential books in my genealogical and family history library. I should say REPRESENTATIVE images of these kinds of books in my library, because there are a lot more titles than shown here.

I will give a little more detail concerning each representative book starting, generally, from the top, left corner and going clockwise. In 1996, I had the privilege of touring County Durham, England, and several places in Scotland, including my great grandfather's place of birth- Thomas William Russell in Holytown, near Glasgow. Oh-h-h, I drool even now when I recall the book stores in the old city of Durham. I can even remember the smell of the old buildings and book shelves. I went wild with my visa card purchases not even thinking at first how I was going to get them into the plane going home. I had pounds of books- and I'm not talking about British currency; I'm talking about tons. I thought I would mail them home, but when I discovered how much that was going to cost, I decided to buy another suitcase and squeeze them under my passenger seat. The wonderful couple at the B&B on Claypath Street where I lodged in Durham City were sympathetic and stored my books for me when I took the train farther north. They also shared their own library containing a number books on regional history and geography.

So, in the image: "Coal Mining in Co. Durham" by The County Durham Environmental Education Curriculum in coop. with The Northern Echo (newspaper); here are lots of pictures, maps, and stories of coal mining. "Churches of the Diocese of Durham" published by the Millennium Committee, 1994, and purchased at store in Durham Cathedral was just that- with a picture, description, and history of every church in each parish.

Next, are a couple of my German genealogy and history references: "The German Research Companion" by Shirley J. Riemer, 2000, pp 663 is a virtual Bible of information, including history and language tips. A smaller book(75 pp), "The German Researcher, How to get most out of LDS FHC", by Dearden, 1992, is indispensable for translating German parish records.

I said before I love maps. I am so delighted with the mapping feature for images in my Picasa albums. The Stadte-Atlas of Pommern (Pomerania), by Fritz Barran has detailed maps of the Kries (=counties) and large cities. And, my Polen, Hinterpommern map Strassen Karte (1:200 000) by Hofer Verlag (not shown) has both Polish and German spellings for villages.

Books about a specific region or town lend so much to a knowledge and view of our own family history. Thus, I have accumulated books such as, "Zauberhafter Niederrhein, Eine Farbbildreise durch Landschaft und Geschichte" (Magical Lower Rhein valley, picture trips through landscape and history), by Rose M. Lehnhof and Ruth Kaiser, a gift from Rudolf Kerbitz. My Gailliot ancestors were from here. I own one-of-kind pamphlets: "Oscola Mills" and "100 Years in Brisbin and Houtzdale", in Clearfield Co., PA, and "75th Anniversary of Barnesboro" (now called Northern Cambria since 2000). "A View From ..." are two volumes of reprinted columns from the Clearfield (County, PA) Progress newspaper, which describe histories of all villages in the County, including the "Ghost town" of Peale, where my own immigrant ancestors first settled.

I value the McCutchen Family Trace Newsletter, especially since I drew the old log cabin on one of its covers.

And finally, I enjoy reading books about the former occupations and localities of my ancestors: "When Coal was King", by Louis Poliniak, and "Out of this Furnace", by Thomas Bell, an historical novel about an immigrant family working in the former steel mills of Pittsburgh. My Gailliot Family once lived in Braddock and worked at the Edger Thompson Steel Mill.

Of course, I have to mention the book that started it all for me, "If You Want to Write- A Book about Art, Independence, and Spirit", by Brenda Ueland, which I read from cover to cover one Fall night in a rented motel room in St. Cloud, Minnesota.

This was an important exercise for me, because I realize that many of the books in my library are out-of-print or one-of-a-kind. What will happen to the books after I'm gone? I'm not being moribund- just practical. Judging from my immediate family's lack of interest in our family history now (perhaps it will be more important in the future, like mine was), the fate of these books might be in jeopardy. Maybe I could donate them to our local library in Monroe, NC, in particular the Dickinson Room for genealogy and local history. But, my ancestors were from Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, the Clearfield County (PA) Historical Society is open only 2 days, 12 hours per week- almost as inconvenient as the Pommershen Verein in Milwaukee, WI. Researchers at these libraries would have minimal access. Are the bigger genealogical libraries more practical? I think I should choose the library with free parking.

This entry was submitted to the 56th Carnival of Genealogy topic, "Ten Essential books in my genealogy library". Sorry, I ran a little over. For a summary of what other Genealogy bloggers find essential in their libraries, link here.

1. An unfinished photo journal of my trip to England and Scotland in 1996.

2. Detailed map of Stolp, Pommern (Pomerania) showing the names of villages of Kramp and Tuschling families in both Polish and German. Image from an unposted blog entry still in rough draft.

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