Sunday, April 25, 2010

Back from Ohio Genealogical Society in Toledo

The biggest state genealogy organization in the country wound up its annual conference yesterday in Toledo. High points for me were working with fellow Great Lakes APG members in the meeting, roundtable, and Ancestors Road Show; meeting old, new, and prospective ProGen Study Group members at lunch Friday; and hearing Connie Reik on farm sources, and Craig Scott on World War I and colonial wars. The syllabus has plenty of material to catch up on, and to make me sorry I couldn't go to more.

Saturday's variable weather gave me an opening to walk over to the Toledo-Lucas County public library. Newcomers are well advised to study the library's web site before going. I didn't, and wound up getting lost (there are two different third floors -- for local history you want the elevators at the back of the building, not the front). The library has great resources for its locality (which I didn't get to work with), and the very busy librarians were kind and helpful. For out-of-towners with Lucas County roots, the web site has an index to Toledo Blade obituaries, 1970-present.

But for Ohio counties and other states, the collection is saddled with a peculiar cataloging decision. Within each Ohio county and each other state, books are ordered by author or title, rather than by subject! This works fine if you happen to know the authors of all the books pertaining to, say, Green County, Kentucky, but most of us don't conduct our research that way. A glance at the online catalog ("classic catalog" allows search by subject) would have helped me make the most of the situation.

One last thing: the ongoing tragedy of inadequate library funding was much in evidence. The library's hours are limited, and the joint was jumping midday Saturday, with a lot of folks hoping to be able to use local history computers for general purposes and not being able to do so. We as genealogists need to step up to the plate and say it straight out: free public libraries are a resource provided by the community for the community, an investment in equal opportunity. Taxes paid for libraries are a good thing. Period.

One other last thing: I took the scenic route home in order to take some cemetery photos. If you fail to associate "scenic drive" with Toledo, try taking Ohio 25 and US 24 southwest out of the city in mid-spring, with enough flaming purple redbuds along the river to light up the gloomiest day.


Jean said...

I wish I had known when I met you at the GLC meeting that you are the author of this blog, one of my favorites.

Harold Henderson said...

Jean -- Thanks. There would be a lot more posts if there were two of me! -- Harold