Last week I managed two brief visits to the Boston Pubic Library, near Copley Square, while on a business trip. The oldest large municipal library in the country, the library system has extensive holdings and significant electronic resources.
I visited the web site in advance and accessed the schedule of open hours (quite generous) and also a guide for genealogists. The central library is in two buildings – the Johnson Building and the historic McKim Building. It was clear I wanted to head for the Social Sciences section on the second floor of the McKim Building.
My first impression was that this is the most beautiful library I’ve ever been in.
I had read about a special card catalog for genealogy research so I asked the librarian about that and she showed me where to find it. I searched under several names and made my selection of four family genealogy books. These would have to be pulled from storage for me so I filled out a slip for each book.
Next I made my way to the Delivery Desk, still on the second floor but across several lovely hallways and reading rooms. I needed to obtain a free Visitors library card in order to request the stored books. I was able to do that right at the Delivery Desk. (Now that I have the card, I plan to explore the web resources a little more thoroughly from home.)
I returned to the Delivery Desk about 15 minutes later to collect my books, and brought them back to my desk at the social studies room. By the way, my iphone was the only electronic equipment I brought with me since I could keep it in my pocket and use it for both camera and internet.
In the end the books were not all that helpful, but worth seeing. A further analysis of the pages I photographed is still needed, though.
My next stop was also on the second floor, but in the adjacent new building. The government documents and microform sections were there. I had some specific look ups that I wanted to do, but I also spotted a looseleaf notebook listing the newspaper holdings of the library. I decided to look for some references to my Boston area relatives, just by perusing significant birth/marriage/death dates in the local papers.
My first newspaper reel was the Boston Evening Transcript and its famous genealogy page. This is an early 19th century version of the Rootsweb Message Board. I was using the microfilm printer and it took quite a few prints to completely print March 24, 1930 “Genealogical” page containing the name Hannah Andrews. When I got home, I finally found the name but it was not my ancestor. oh well.
In the local newspapers on microfilm I found some articles about my g-grandmother Bessie Martin Baldwin, for a future post. I also found something interesting in the government documents section that I will write about next time. What will have to wait for another trip is a more thorough examination of the city directories, some of which were on microfilm and, well, everything else that I haven’t discovered there yet.