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 (1.7m points)
edited by Eowyn Walker

78 Answers

+7 votes

I have several answers. I LOVE the library. I've been a reader and writer since I was old enough to do those! My parents were both readers. Because I went to the library frequently, my children grew up at the library, too. My son collects books. He seeks them out - it drives his wife crazy!
MY first "library" was behind my Dad's chair. I sat on the floor, cross-legged where he had a bookshelf, and there were the "Lincoln Library of Essential Information" in two great big books. I was mesmerized. The pages were thin and delicate. There were tabs for categories. I was always told to be careful with those books. I think my Dad had received them as a child. My grandfather was focused on education, and these might have been purchased from a door-to-door salesman by my great-grandmother in Columbus, Ohio. I read those books, absorbing information - even if it was already twenty years or more old. It was the beginning of my thirst for more... reading!

by Sheri Taylor G2G6 Mach 2 (24.6k points)
+7 votes

How to describe him. My 3rd great-uncle [[Shelton-5220|John Shelton]] wrote a family history between 1901 and 1903 about his parents who came to Kentucky from North Carolina and gave as much as he could about all of his siblings. The original manuscript was written in pencil and the cousin who had it shared copies of it. I also have a cousin who transcribed it and put it into book form for us all.

by Tina Hall G2G6 Mach 1 (15.0k points)
+7 votes

I decided to do up a profile for Henry Ventlia Peckham.  Not exactly an ancestor (his step-mother married my husband's GG grandfather), but he was a character in a famous Australian book "We of the Never-Never" and died quite heroically.  I have had a lot of fun researching him.

Fittingly, I just found this lovely biography and photo for him on the Northern Territory Library's Facebook page.

by Susie O'Neil G2G6 (8.0k points)
edited by Susie O'Neil
+6 votes

I have 3 women cousins on my dad side that wrote a book named 3fat chicks on a diet Because We're All in it Together. Their name are Suzanne Barnett, Amy Buchanan, and Jennifer Lesman. Their last name which is their surname is Barnett. They have a website www.3fatchicks.com. I do not have their profile in yet but I will. There is stories behind the three authors which they are sisters. You should get this book and read it and go to the website also.

Then there is my mom sister which is dead husband who has written 2 books. I do have his profile and it is https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Sapp-483 Charles Sapp. The first book is about his dad and it is a true story. The name of the first book is "The Man With Two Names" about his dad who is https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Sapp-1214 Emory Sapp. Then the other book title is "Heaven is like a Vacation, Getting there is the Fun Part." You all should get them and read them they are very interesting to read. This is my uncles so is not a direct relative.

by Anonymous Barnett G2G6 Pilot (465k points)
+8 votes

It was at the library that i first discovered the Biographical Dictionary of WA by Rica Erickson. Here I was able to discover my great(4X) grandfather [[Backshall-19 |William Backsall]], born in 1987. He arrived in Western Australia in 1842 - life here would have been very primitive at this time. I've tried to flesh out his profile as much as possible.

by Judy Weggelaar G2G6 (7.0k points)
+8 votes
A love of books was passed down to me by my father. Although his mother was not very good at reading, she pushed all three of her children to do well at school, and trips to the local library happened often.

I started reading to my son before he was born. He had a story (or more) every night. Once he turned 7 I was informed I read too slow, and HE would read to ME! To this day he is a prolific reader, and has done a lot of writing.
by Marion Poole G2G Astronaut (1.1m points)
+11 votes

I started my family history at the age of 9 -  By asking  my grandparents who their Parents and Grandparents were (I've verified these now) .

My Grandfather had also done some research on his maternal side. His theory was a Mother always knows her children but it's a wise man that know his children.

So I had a great start, this was pre-internet days! 

When I got a bit older obviously just having a name wasn't satisfying enough, and whilst I knew my Grandfathers brothers and Sisters I didn't know the wider family - cousins etc

I also didn't know that much about them, where did they live? (I knew the town but not address), What job did they have? 

So the library was a very interesting place - Polling Records gave me previous addresses, trade directories gave me the professions, and the occasional snippet  from a local newspaper (the court cases can be a distraction but interesting and often very amusing)

It felt like putting the flesh on the bones, They were no longer just a name they became family wink

Research was harder back then (seriously) nothing was instant, after my first attempt of just walking in unprepared I always set off with a game plan , handwritten notes of the ancestor i was hoping to get more information about, the year I had information about, any additional information brothers, Sisters. I don't remember ever coming away disappointed (though some were very illusive) and some of the distractions kept me entertained and the time seemed to evaporate!

More than I few times I was in there from  opening time to closing time - with no breaks or food / drink I ran on adrenaline. 

This Answer isn't really about One Ancestor or even one distant Relation BUT the enjoyment  I find whilst researching and finding NEW branches etc, 

by Heather Jenkinson G2G6 Mach 2 (28.3k points)
+8 votes

My grandmother, Venice James (née Fletcher; still living), loved books. She was a history buff; she could list you the family tree of the entire British monarchy or the order of British monarchs off of the top of her head (before her dementia set in). I chose her for this week because I inherited a lot of her books when she was moved into a care facility, including the family book which eventually led me to WikiTree :-)

by Amelia Utting G2G6 Pilot (181k points)
+8 votes

Hours in a Library--it's an essay by Virginia Woolf and also the story of this life.

The hours I spend in libraries these days are precious few.  Forty years ago I ate, slept and dreamed in libraries.  My first career goal was to be a librarian, when I was about seven.  When, in the late 1980s, I checked out a Masters Degree program in Library and Information Science, it was too late.  I already had a Ph.D. and I didn't need more school.  The end was near for all the wooden cabinets and drawers of card catalogues and all the paper cards I loved to flip through.

I don't anticipate finding the tools to break my brick walls in books anymore, but who knows? In the right collection I might.  Books are a good way to step back and gain more general knowledge about history, culture and geography.  This big picture is often the key.  I must confess, however, that I am less patient with the search than I used to be.  The internet has spoiled me.

I love little libraries that have good local history collections.  I love genealogy society libraries and the dedication of volunteer staff.  I contributed many books to my local society in Lynnwood, Washington as well as a handmade quilt made from several thousand 1 1/2" squares that creates a mosaic map of Snohomish and Island Counties.

I also love big libraries with big collections of books, microfilm and digital databases.  I have been to Salt Lake City three times and maybe it's time to go again.  The first visit was in 1988, when I was armed with questions from a distant cousin in Wisconsin.  With her information I was able to mine a vein of gold down at the bottom of my pedigree chart.  I made many breakthroughs but the big one is the most memorable. I made major progress on multiple lines in Posen Province, Prussia, using three films that I believe would yield still more if I saw them again.  One surname I found the "correct" spelling of was Nickoley or Nicolai or Nickolai--not Nivolai as I had it.  I found the confirmation record of 3ggm Anna Louise Nickoley Koerth https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Nickoley-2 who came as a widow to Wisconsin with her son Daniel and walked prodigious distances with him those first few winters.  Once her shoes wore out and she came to a farmhouse to ask for help.  Not knowing English, she pointed to her shoes--she could have said the word in German and been understood.

My cousin in Wisconsin telephoned me after she received my research report in the mail.  She said: "Could you hear my whoops of joy all the way to California?!'

by Margaret Summitt G2G6 Pilot (129k points)
edited by Margaret Summitt
+7 votes

My ancestor for this week is my great-grandmother, Evelyn Ellis. I'm currently reading a book written about her, which can be found in the Toronto library system. It's interesting, and I'm using the info in it to flesh out her profile and the profiles of the other people mentioned in it.

(This is week 3 for me.)

by Andrea Williams G2G4 (4.2k points)
+7 votes

Well, my At the Library ancestor is Rev. John Wilson Sr.. The reason I chose Rev. Wilson is because you can possibly find his writings in a library. He was a Puritan pastor that came to Massachusetts in 1630 and was the pastor at the First Church of Boston. He was known by Rev. Richard Mather, father to Rev. Increase Mather and grandfather to Rev. Cotton Mather (famous for his involvement in the Salem Witch trials). In fact, Increase Mather read the funeral sermon for Rev. Wilson. 

Rev. Wilson was a staunch Puritan and published many works in regards to his religion. His works include  "Some Helps to Faith" (London, 1625), "The Day Breaking if not the Sun Rising, of the Gospel with the Indians in New England" (1647); a poem titled "Famous Deliverances of the English Nation"; and another poem written in Latin to remember Reverend John Harvard.

His book "The Day Breaking if not the Sun Rising, of the Gospel with the Indians in New England" can be found on Archive. org. It is 44 pages and was written after Rev. Wilson spent time helping settle a dispute in Connecticut with the Pequot Indians. His book can be found HERE.

by Anonymous Tuma G2G6 Mach 1 (14.3k points)
+11 votes

In 1943 my wife's grandmother [[Berte Viola (Prouse) Emery | Prouse-46]] became Lambertville's first Librarian working out of a recycled mobile barber shop. She served until she retired in 1954. Her work was recognized by Monroe County when it dedicated a new library to her.

Berte Viola (Prouse) Emery in the Library.

by Dave McNally G2G3 (3.9k points)
+7 votes

This was kind of a difficult choice to make this week. Being that I spend a lot of time overseas going to a local library is a bit difficult. So I decided to use select my grandmother Dollie Berry, she had a very large book collection. Just about every time I saw her she was either reading or knitting.

by Dean Anderson G2G6 Pilot (424k points)
+7 votes
My father has spent many hours in a library.  After retiring from work, he started taking classes for fun at the local university.  This continued until the Dean of the College told him, "Mr. Bernier, if you want to continue taking classes, you must declare a major." My father now has 3 college degrees, all earned after age 62!
by Judith Brandau G2G6 (9.6k points)
+7 votes

My first experience of doing genealogical research at the library was my Sophomore year in High School. I don't remember exactly what I learned there but I do remember looking at the census records.

More recently, I have found quite a bit of good information at the Forbes Library in Northampton, Massachusetts. They have a good collection of family history books, town history books, and copies of various compilations of vital records from many cities & towns in Massachusetts. I have been able to trace various families on my husband's side thanks to the Vital Record Books. On my side, I was able to connect one branch of my family to one of the early settlers in Northampton - Elder John Strong. I came across this information just in time for a visit from my mother and aunt for my daughter's college graduation. We were able to visit the cemetery where he is buried.

by Emily Holmberg G2G6 Mach 9 (94.6k points)
+7 votes

This one is a tough one, because there are a few ways I can answer it. I've received an incredible amount of help on my maternal grandmother's family, thanks to a volunteer at the Mercer County Library in Celina, Ohio. On my adoptive dad's side, I can trace directly back to George Ensor, who wrote a number of books on Irish independence and social issues in the early to mid-1800s. The cousin of an ancestor on my biological father's side was an abolitionist and poet.

But in the end, I'm going to look a little closer: my maternal grandparents. Somehow, I inherited many of the books they read and kept over the years, from my grandfather's childhood copy of Treasure Island and his high school Latin textbooks to my grandmother's collection of Kathleen Norris novels to guidebooks about wherever they traveled.

The most treasured book I inherited from them is a 1942 copy of Old Mr. Boston's Deluxe Bartender's Guide. The book was a gift to my grandparents at their wedding, and when my grandfather was about to ship out to Europe a couple months later, they used it to sneak in one last very, very illegal visit. He was stationed temporarily in Boston while waiting to ship out, and asked her about the book to signal where he was. Later during the call, she told him she'd be visiting family in Boston and which hotel she'd be at, and he showed up in the middle of the night. They only had a couple of hours - they nearly got caught by the military police (luckily, the concierge called from the lobby so my grandfather had time to rush down the back stairs before they got to the room). If they'd been caught, it could have been very serious, since the War Department was keeping tight secrecy over troop movements.

He made it back safely after the war, but they kept the book, and my grandmother told me the story not long after he passed away.

by K. Cathey G2G3 (3.9k points)
+7 votes
This was a really difficult one to answer. I really only have my love of books. I volunteered in High School in the library. I love to read just about anything. At one time when I was 6 or 7, I  got books from my maternal grandmorther that I always believed were from her mother. The few I remember were Louisa May Alcott's "Little Women" series and "Black Beauty" were the ones I remembered most because the pages were yellowed and crisp. So you had to be very careful turning the pages. My nose was always in a book when I was younger. I remember I used to have a flashlight I'd take to bed with me and read books under my covers.

To my dismay, as we moved around a lot, my mother got rid of all of our books telling us books were to heavy to pay to move. All of my beloved books were gone. I still get very emotional with this shared memory because I was very angry with my mother and felt guilty that I was so angry. My thought was always I understand the cost of moving but why couldn't we each have kept at least a few of our favorite books?

My dream has always been to have a library in my house with a fireplace. Unlikely as we live in a small cape cod.

With the birth of my grandson, I am elated that he loves books! At 3 he already has hundreds. I've watched him on his bedroom monitor lining up his stuffed animals along the edge of his bed and the wall and he turns the book facing them and tells them the story. Priceless!
by Louann Halpin G2G6 Mach 6 (62.2k points)
+6 votes
This is an easy one.

My gram had a huge collection of books. https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Ager-66 She passed all of her history ones to me. She was the person who gave me my first romance novel. I keep the book in a lock box and have a separate copy of it so that way I can make sure it still smells like her house. Weird I know but she influenced me to read and become an Anthropologist. If she hadn't I would not have loved history or cemeteries or geneaology.

I should also mention that my aunt in law has a library basement, and attic, and living room. She has alot of books so much that when she dies she passes them to me just like my grams collection did as well.
by Christine Preston G2G6 Mach 4 (43.0k points)
+3 votes
During my searches I have come across several references to a manuscript of some kind titled  "The Travels of Walter Bridges". described as a Travelogue and I believe to be in a collection somewhere in Ballarat. (I am still trying to track this down).  My understanding is that this is like a journal written by my g-g-g grandfather Walter Bridges about his travels around the goldfields and the region and there is a particular reference in it to the nature of trade with the Aboriginal people of the times that is often quoted in thesis papers regarding the interaction of the Aboriginals with white settlers.

I believe my grandfathers brother John Ackroyd also wrote a book regarding his time as a chaplin in the Army during the war, but I have yet to track down the title of this works
by Freda Ackroyd G2G3 (3.5k points)
+3 votes

This one was a stretch for me, as I don't go to the library much.  So I'm going to have to default to my 4th cousin, 14 times removed:  William Shakespeare.   He's got all kinds of material in the library!  

And also, my 10th cousin, once removed, Ernest Hemingway, he has a few works available in the library as well. 

by William Catambay G2G6 Mach 2 (22.0k points)
edited by William Catambay

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