Tuesday, January 11, 2011

City histories offer hidden resources

During a recent trip to Kansas City for the holidays I was able to squeeze in a brief visit to the Midwest Genealogy Center, a part of the Mid-Continent Public Library (MCPL) system. I could only make a brief stop, so I opted to just browse through some of thier local resources for the county in Missouri that many of my family members are from: Ray county. As I had made several visits to the library before, I had already reviewed most of the resources. But this time I noticed a book that I had not looked through before: Hardin, Missouri : a centennial history, 1870-1970, compiled by Mrs. Cecil Hogan.  Hardin, Missouri is a small town just east of Richmond, the county seat. My family did not live in Hardin, but just north of the town. However, I knew that a great-uncle and great-aunt had owned a grocery store there so I decided to see if my family might be discussed in the book, however remote that chance might be.

Florence and Claude McGuire with their children Margaret and Virginia. The photo was found in the Hardin, Missouri : a centennial history, 1870-1970, compiled by Mrs. Cecil Hogan.

The book turned out to be a compilation of not only the town's one-hundred-year history, but also included forty some odd pages of resident photos. Low and behold there were at least twenty photos of my family that I had never seen before, including some photos of a line that I had not seen photographed. Due to my visit being a "drive-by," I was not prepared to photograph, scan or even copy the photographs. I took a couple of shots of the book's information with my cell phone to look it up later.

I was desperate to get digital copies of the photographs I had come across. I found that the book was available at the Ray County Library, but it was located in the reference section and I could not check it out. My next thought was utilizing Interlibrary Loan. I contacted my local library, the Central Arkansas Library system and put in a request to loan the book from the Midwest Genealogy Center. Unfortunately, my request was denied because the book was non-circulating.

Not to be deterred, I decided to try to find a copy of the book to buy. I headed to ebay and quickly found a copy for sell. I was surprised to find a copy, as I know print runs of these types of publications are never very large and people tend to hold on to them. A couple of weeks later I received my own copy of the book.

The important lesson to learn from all of my hunting and pecking is that even the most seemingly remote resource can pay off in big ways. I have learned that in genealogy research there are times to ensure that you are on point and focused and then there are times to take a moment and try the unexpected. You never know what you will find.

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