52 Ancestors Week 5: At the Library

+19 votes

imageReady for Week 5 of the 52 Ancestors challenge?

You're encouraged to share a profile of an ancestor or relative who matches the week's theme. This week's sharing prompt:


From Amy Johnson Crow:

Some ways you could interpret this theme include: an ancestor that you discovered while researching at the library; an ancestor who was a librarian or an author; an ancestor who had a large book collection; an ancestor who you picture being in a library; or maybe a relative who took you to the library.

Share below!

Participants who share every week can earn badges. Click here for more about the challenge and how to participate.

If this is your first time participating, or you don't have the participation badge, please post here.

in The Tree House by Eowyn Walker G2G Astronaut (1.9m points)
edited by Eowyn Walker

78 Answers

+22 votes

Well, my grandfather Tom Robinson was certainly comfortable in a library, and his book addition was passed to my mother, to me, and to my children.  

When he moved to a retirement residence at the age of 85, I got to handle his library: textbooks he published, old books he collected, and newer books he'd read. For a time, my kids refused to go to the public library, claiming that we had more books in our house, but I've managed to shift most of them to a library or bookstore. Just a few boxes of old textbooks from the 1920's that are harder to place.

by Laurie Giffin G2G6 Mach 9 (92.4k points)
+19 votes

I had a hard time with this one so I told the story of what happened to me in my home town when I was looking for info for a paper in college. I told everyone in Amy's group the story. Here it is:

I live in a town in the Merrimack Valley which has had a long and storied history you'd think there'd be a sizable archive of books in one spot dating back to the founding/separation from nearby Haverhill, Massachusetts in 1750. There isn't.

A few years ago I was doing a paper for one of my history professors. She asked the class to go check out our home town libraries to see what we could find. She often took us on walks around the towns surrounding the college campuses. Andover in particular was one of the major mill towns operating on the Merrimack River so naturally we saw mills. (Ow...that was awful.)

I headed to the Salem historical society and found a bunch of things on display from the 1950s. These were like "I like Ike" pins and all that. I was a little annoyed. I mean we clearly have colonial roots. We have cannons on Main Street dating back to the colonial times. The old town hall still stands. The old burial ground is across the street from a convenience store! Store used to be an awesome deli. I digress.

 So, I went to the only library in town and finally got somewhere and found something good to show the professor. I wasn't about to let her down. She knew I was from Salem and knew the history well. I guess she wanted to make sure I knew history well. And I couldn't very well write about the Hill Valley lightning storm on November 12th, 1955. Everyone knows that story, right?

 To this day I wonder why the historical society just showed stuff from the 1950s in a building dating back to the 1750s. Did they have everything in storage? I HOPE they did. You see stuff around town about Salem's past everywhere. The library, though, was good and it gave me plenty of stuff to write a paper on. I didn't get a chance to wear those gloves you see people use on "Who do you think you are?"

 What I really need to do though is get down to the Haverhill library and look up stuff there. Since Haverhill is a bigger city, I bet they'd have stuff on early Salem aka "North Parish" as they called it. Fun fact. Haverhill and Salem split because Salem residents didn't want to go down Main Street to get to church. Traffic issues. Today? STILL traffic issues! Granted there are like so many roads to Haverhill now.

 I do have another reason to go to the Haverhill library. Aside from a scant few Haverhill based ancestors I have, many of my immigrant ancestors on both sides of my family settled there. So, chances are pretty good that I'll find something in the library's newspaper archives. Or other things. Just need to find the time to go, you know.

 Another library I need to visit is the Derry library as that's the only one that's a family center. But, I'll be doing research outside the country for that one. Ciao!

Oh and I found that Patricia O'Malley's Images of America were great books: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=dp_byline_sr_ebooks_1?ie=UTF8&text=Patricia%20Trainor%20O%27Malley&search-alias=digital-text&field-author=Patricia%20Trainor%20O%27Malley&sort=relevancerank&fbclid=IwAR2-qb-8lt3fD_2QMAxur4YItHylpJuKV7MncN-iC90S6elx1kjBdQK6wOU

Check those out at your local library or buy them! =D

Now if you want to talk about a library of books, my grandparents all had books related to American history, Quebecois history and Italian history. That was pretty cool to check out when I was a kid. Wish I had them here with me. We have a few. Not much, though.

Oh and we also have a cabinet full of books from the 1880s. These weren't from a relative or anything. But the books are pretty awesome. I am hesitant to read them without gloves. It'd be like reading a mint condition comic from the 1930s. You'd need special gloves and a facemask!

by Chris Ferraiolo G2G6 Pilot (519k points)
+21 votes

I love a good read, and for this week want to mention my own “Bourne Identity” my 4x great uncle on my mothers’ side – The Venerable Hugh (1772-1852). He was initially drawn to the Wesleyan Methodists but soon started preaching himself but outdoors on the Staffordshire moorlands. When the church expelled him in 1808, along with his friend William Clowes and his younger brother James (my 4x great grandfather), they started their own Primitive Methodist Connexion, which by 1906 had over 200,000 followers in Britain and ten thousand more in both Canada and Australia. “Primitive Methodism was a major movement in English Methodism from about 1810 until the Methodist Union in 1932.” Farndale, W.E. The Secret of Mow Cop. Epworth press, London. 1950. (quoted on https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Primitive_Methodism_in_the_United_Kingdom). More information is in the book below, a challenge for the future is to research the author.

Walford, John. (1854) Memoirs of the Life and Labours of the late venerable Hugh Bourne: By a member of the Bourne family. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. (ISBN 978-1-108-02498-3) "This volume, first published in 1854 and written by Bourne's nephew John Walford, contains a detailed biography of Bourne."

by Alison Wilkins G2G6 Mach 3 (30.0k points)
+21 votes
I wrote about my ancestor Paul Jacobs Martens (Martens-1079), who I learned about through a visit to the NYPL. The age gap between his oldest and his youngest was about 60 years...

by Janelle Weir G2G6 Mach 4 (49.5k points)
+19 votes
Not an ancestor  this time but myself doing historical research.

It is not the easiest question to answer because historical stuff  - beside some local and general history books - is not found in the libraries in the Netherlands but in the local, regional and, provincial archives and more and more on line and almost everything is available for free/nothing/nada.

My local/regional archive is connected by a few doors to the local central library. Every week I spend a few days iin the studyroom of the archive. Sometimes doing none genealogical historical research, sometimes on the internet - they have very good wifi - and sometimes looking for the newest unlocked and indexed documents in their catalog. Because my family is rooted in this region I can still find new information even after  many years of research.

During my lunchbreak I talk to the other people doing research or voluntair work there (they have a coffecorner with free coffee and tea  for visitors) or I visit the library to read a newspaper, collect some books or follow a lecture. In the middle of the square in front of archive and library is an old church, not being used as church anymore but functioning as exhibition and lecture place. It's called  the " House of History". The entrane is free and I love to go there when they have a new historical exhibition.
by Eef van Hout G2G6 Pilot (154k points)
+21 votes

It was in one of my local libraries that I discovered my gr-gr-grandfather Judge George William Paul was in the "Who's Who in Australia" .. and in the same library when I discovered his son "the Doctor" was also in "Who's Who in Australia".

I addition I have to add myself.  I lived in libraries.  When I was in secondary school, the local library was across the road, but only open two afternoons a week.  So I would take out the maximum number of books allowed by the school library (two) during the week, and then, on Thursdays and Fridays, I would cross the road after school and take out the maximum allowed (four) from there as well (six books on Thursday, all returned on Friday for another six).  Fortunately for me, they didn't last the entire weekend, so I was "forced" to spend time out-of-doors (NO TV KIDDIES), doing out-doorsy kind of things such as play cricket, or footy (Aussie Rules), build campfires and roast purloined potatoes and cook damper with purloined flour, ride a horse with my friend Lorraine, ride my bike.  You know, the usual tortures.  cheeky

(This is my fifth week of participating.  Yay, me!)

by Melanie Paul G2G6 Pilot (331k points)
+19 votes

My maternal grandmother, Mary Rita (Parece) Rosenberger, AKA Nana, suggested I read a book about the sinking of the Titanic, “”A Night to Remember”. I biked to our local library, and tried to checkout the book. the book was in the “Adult” (vs “”Children”) section. I was 12 at the time, and needed parental permission to check out “Adult” books. Mom approved, and for almost a year, I got to check out “Adult” books. Thanks for the book recommendation, Nana. BTW, I saw the movie after I read the book. I thought the book was better.

by Bob Keniston G2G6 Pilot (217k points)
edited by Bob Keniston
+18 votes

The first time I went to the library for genealogical work was in the 1990s, when I was lucky enough to visit the Family History LIbrary in Salt Lake City.  There, I found in one of the thousands of books, information on Gabriel Sansoucy.  I was completely amazed at all the information I found in the library, which has contributed to my continued love of genealogy.

by Rick San Soucie G2G6 Mach 2 (27.7k points)
+17 votes
In the library...my brother Jacques and I when we were children. We lived two blocks from the local public library. They ran a summer reading program. For every ten books a child read, the library would award a small prize. The prizes were things such as little ceramic ornaments shaped like sea animals. Jacques and I walked to the library together to select and check out our books. We competed to see who could win their prizes the fastest. He always won. We both developed a life-long love of books and reading. (Jacques passed away on July 1, 2017.)
by Nelda Spires G2G6 Pilot (423k points)
+19 votes

My maternal grandmother was a reader.  I have many early childhood memories of going to the library with her and of her reading to me.  She often gave me books as gits. I was blessed and I am so grateful to her.  Caryl Pruett Showalter

by Caryl Ruckert G2G6 Pilot (192k points)
+19 votes

Though my choice is not an ancestor, she is a profile that I manage. I'm referring to Ina Coolbrith, born Josephine Donna Smith.  She later changed her name to Ina -- a family nickname, and Coolbrith -- her mother's maiden name.  She was the first librarian for the Oakland, California Public Library from it's inception in 1878 until 1892. While librarian she mentored both Jack London and Isadora Duncan when they were children. Besides being the Oakland Librarian she was also a celebrated poet -- known as the first Poet Laureate of California. She counted among her friends and contemporaries Bret Harte, Joaquin Miller, Mark Twain, Gertrude Atherton, Charles Warren Stoddard, and others.

by Robin Shaules G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
+18 votes

It was twenty years ago that I first journeyed to Ireland for a week's vacation.  I knew that my dad's grandfather had left his parents and immigrated to Canada from Ireland along with his brother when he was a teenager in the 1890s after he had declined to follow his father by taking up a career in the Navy.  My dad (who had recently visited) had given me a map to find the old family property which lies in a remote patch of countryside in County Roscommon but was no longer standing.  My first stop was the Dublin family research library and not really knowing what to do, I went to the card catalog to look up what information they had.  But there I realized that they referenced a couple of books that I had already seen at my dad's house but which I had not read.  I was a little embarrassed that I was so ill-prepared and resolved to be more serious in researching my genealogy.  But I was glad that my dad hadn't sent me halfway around the world when I also didn't follow his lead and join the Navy!

The ancestor who spent a great deal of time in the library was my immigrant ancestor's father Francis George Crofton who lived in Dun Laoghaire (then called Kingstown) where he was Harbour Master after having been a Captain in the Royal Navy.  He wrote several self-published books including "Names of Men of War and Yachts Explained".  Towards the end of his life he wrote a short family history which begins with reference to his time in the library and ends with a hope for better times in the future.  I will end with his words here.

He writes,

"The story of Mote is gathered from a hasty look at some of the old papers in the library there.  Time did not allow of an examination of them all, or even of making full notes from those that were read.  Should opportunity occur, something more might be found to make this little family story fuller and more interesting."


"In 1895 the family are again in a 'sad and low condition,' but they have these 'comforts in life' - that which money cannot buy - namely, unity and affection.

We shall conclude by wishing the present representative a long life, with a hope that future generations may be as united as the present and more fortunate than the past."

by Geoffrey Crofton G2G6 (6.8k points)
+16 votes

First of all, even though he is a descendant, my son spent a lot of time in libraries and reading books at home. He probably read more books before the age of 18 than anyone that you know read in a lifetime. My paternal grandfather Thomas Dolman-115 built several houses and repaired many more. Because he did not have a formal education he was considered a jack-of-all-trades. He would love to read on all of different jobs in construction that he knew including masonry, the trade that he originally learned. Today with the knowledge he would have learned perhaps  he would be a general contractor.

by Jerry Dolman G2G6 Pilot (169k points)
+17 votes

Through the Cranach-family I am also related to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Lucas Cranach the Elder is a 6x great grandfather of Goethe. Usually, when there are visitors I take them to Frankfurt. Sometimes we go into the birth house of Goethe. It is a museum now. One of the rooms is called "the library". There is a cabinet with books in there. Every time I'm in that room I want to open the cabinet. blush

by Jelena Eckstädt G2G6 Pilot (928k points)
+18 votes

This my first response in this challenge. Hope to play every week. This is my third cousin once removed.  She was a librarian.


by Joelle Colville-Hanson G2G6 Pilot (126k points)
+18 votes

May I introduce you to Antoinette C Gersbach, my 2x great grandmother. I discovered this lovely lady in the library of the Cape Town Archives. One of my most memorable finds, and joyous genealogy moments. I can still remember standing with my jaw dropped open as I read her name in the book. A glorious day indeed!

by Toni Andrews G2G6 (6.7k points)
+19 votes
My 4x Great Grandfather William Broadway (Broadway-372)    I was able to find a transcript of his family Bible at the Library (still trying to figure out who has the original)    The transcript provided some information that helped me find original source documents and solve several mysteries on those lines.
by Brandi Morgan G2G6 Mach 1 (18.7k points)
+18 votes

Minnie Earl Sears (1873-1933) daughter of Myron E and Lydia M (Skinner) Sears created the Sears List of Subject Headings in 1923 as a more accessible version of the Library of Congress Subject Headings, the Sears List of Subject Headings has been providing a guide to subject access for small libraries ever since. It was first published by H.W. Wilson, and EBSCO took over editorial duties in 2011.  A librarian's librarian - She also compiled:

A Thackeray Dictionary (with Isidore G Mudge, 1910); 

A George Eliot Dictionary (with same, 1924); 

Children's Catalog (1925);

Song Index (with Phyllis Crawford, 1926);  

Standard Catalog: Biography Section (1927); 

Standard Catalog for Public  Libraries: Fine Arts Section (1928); etc.

by L. Ray Sears G2G6 Mach 4 (43.1k points)
+16 votes

50 years ago, pre-internet, there were a few avenues of research for genealogy: Boots on the ground, research by previous family members and libraries.  As a new hobbiest, then, boots on the ground hadn't yet occurred to me, but I had previous research, so I spent time in libraries, extending that research. My father's ancestors came from Pennsylvania and Upstate New York, with an earlier ancestor "Fleming" who was in New Jersey. While visiting my parents (residents of NJ), I spent a day in the Westfield Public Library. It had a whole genealogy room. I did a lot of preliminary research on my New Jersey ancestors, some of whom had been even earlier in Rhode Island. One of the New Jersey lines I explored that day was Rounsevell. Sarah Rounsevell was the Rounsevell daughter who married into the New Jersey Flemings.

by Anne B G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
+15 votes
I am not aware of any ancestors who were readers except my parents and my father's father. I am sure there were others.

My grandfather had what I would now consider a small library of hardback books, mostly in series, in his den. My father ended up with his Laurence books of Arabia, I got R.L. Stevenson's books that he had, and, oh, my Dad got the Biography of Lincoln or the Civil War series. I don't remember any others.

My family were all readers from an early age. First I remember visiting a bookmobile before out local library was built; then out local library; then getting my pass into the adult section. I remember us watching Elvis Presley make his debut on TV while we all sat around with books in our hands, which we weren't reading at the moment.

I always remember my Mom, Dad, and sister reading and using the local library. My brother went one step further and became a book dealer in Omaha, Nebraska in one of his varied occupations.
by Judy Bramlage G2G6 Pilot (122k points)
edited by Judy Bramlage

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