Sunday, October 2, 2011

A Researcher’s Delight

Only someone who does a lot of research will understand the glee one feels when she finds a place that is crammed with useful resources. I found that place at the Meriden History Room at the Meriden Public Library. I originally went because a book I was seeking came up as available at but only as a reference book. With that in mind, I decided to go there. You have to give them your driver’s license or other form of ID before they take you to the room. It was worth it! This was the Fort Knox of historical records.  As my eyes rove over all the titles, my heartbeat quickened. I was astounded at how much more than just the book I was seeking was there available to me. It was like locking a child in a candy store.

I won’t list all the great resources that are available there because that would not be of interest to readers other than researchers.  I will say I’d love to be locked in that room for a weekend.

Seventeenth Century Recordkeeping

Not always thought important, the compiling of history had to happen after the fact. After all, in the seventeenth century, the colonists were busy making history. It was in the nineteenth century, historians starting pulling together vital records from different sources such as church records. Many of these compilations came about because people wanted to know more about their specific ancestors.  These books of vital records are now our resources because many of the original sources are now lost.

I wonder if a few centuries from now researchers will be able to access vital statistical records easily. There are now, of course, more official record keeping of births, deaths and marriages than there were in past centuries. In the seventeenth century, these records, when recorded, are hand-written notes that are difficult to decipher.

Even though the law said marriages must be announced by banns, the actual wedding was often a private event in the home of the bride with no official record being made. The banns, never meant to be the historical record, cannot be found either.

Thank you

Women’s history is even more difficult because often when there was a record kept the woman’s complete name wasn’t mentioned.  That’s why a room full of these vital records excites me. I want to thank Janis Leach Franco, the local history/reference Librarian for the Meriden Public Library. It takes a special regard for history to know what resources are the most valuable to researchers. Janis has put together a room from which all researchers benefit

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