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Monday, September 19, 2011

Find Your Roots in the Library

Two of my favorite interests are libraries and genealogy so it is a double whammy of satisfaction when one can combine with the other.   While recently doing some family history research in England I found  information at no less than four public libraries there. Luckily for my husband he likes golf and there was ample opportunity for that too.

Even an ocean away, the public library offered free and friendly guidance to help me along my research journey. You’ve got to love it! (I know, my friends tell me I'm a real party animal!)

While I was lucky enough to have gotten far enough into my research that I needed an airplane to continue the beginner can get a great start on family research right here at the South Brunswick Public Library. Before you pull out your credit card for paid online service such as from, first stop by and see what you can find courtesy of the Library.

The most obvious place to begin is in the how-to family history research collection.  Just look in the shelf area of Dewey 929.1.  If you search the online catalog you'll notice 171 suggestions for "genealogy” related materials. Take your pick.  This is an excellent first step and costs you nothing!

Another resource is our Local Archives Room and is best for someone who has some roots in South Brunswick or nearby areas. Thanks to our recent renovation, much of these local materials are now organized in the Local Archives Room, located in the rear of the building. It is a non-public area of the Library and librarian assistance is needed to pursue the items here.
These local materials have been collected for the past 20 years by Township Local Historian Ceil Leedom, a regular volunteer here.

In it are articles from local newspapers about important people who have either lived in South Brunswick or been associated with it in some way, as well as obituaries, and some wedding and engagement announcements. Some special items in the collection were donated by residents, such as a 1966-67 Valhalla Yearbook and research done by Janet Riemer for the USA’s Bicentennial. It is not a complete collection but it does include some great resources including an 1891 Middlesex County Directory.

The archives also include other helpful resources such as the History of Middlesex County series books, as well as dated area maps, church and cemetery information.

There is more local history information out on the public main floor of the Library, such as the New Jersey Collections. Some can be borrowed but other items can only be referenced while in the Library.

The New Jersey Collections contain information on historic properties, houses and even families…such as Van Liew, Winchester, Rowland, Van Dyke, Emmons, and Wetherhill. There is even a specialty collection on the doctors of Dayton and a Township history scrapbook created by school teacher Doris Curran.

If that isn’t enough for you we have shelves and shelves of microfilm of the New York Times newspaper, beginning in 1851 through December 2010. Perhaps you had a relative good (or bad) enough to get his name in the Times! We also have select local and regional newspapers on microfilm, but not as extensive a collection.

Whether your family's roots are local or not, our librarians can direct you to the right shelf or online database to help you along your road to discovery.  Just ask!


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