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Fifty-four pages of folder names.

Just folder names.

Not even individual names inside the folders — just the folders themselves.

Some of them will have contents that reference only one person.

But many, perhaps even most, involve many more than just one person.

What folders?

The Legal Genealogist is glad you asked, because this is the kind of resource we all as genealogists need to look at a lot more often.

It’s an index to the folders in a collection called the Heart of America Genealogy Society Collection at the Midwest Genealogy Center, part of the Mid-Continent Public Library System in Independence, Missouri.1

To give you some background,

The Midwest Genealogy Center (MGC) is one of the nation’s preeminent resources for family history, providing access to almost three-quarter of a million on-site materials. The Genealogy Center features 52,000 square feet of space to house all of the free resources and technology needed to research your family history.

 

The Midwest Genealogy Center is part of the Mid-Continent Public Library (MCPL) system. MCPL has a long history of providing outstanding genealogy resources, and the Genealogy Center has been a major step in the growth of the system.

 

Amongst its many features, MGC houses a uniquely expansive circulating collection and almost completely open stacks. New technology is also a major attribute of the building. Microfilm reader-printers, a self-digitization station, and significant database access allow researchers to use today’s technology to assist their investigations.

 

The Independence Public Library was formed in 1892 by the Independence Library Association, and Miss Carrie Wallace, a relative of former First Lady Bess Wallace Truman, was the first librarian, serving until 1947. She was instrumental in laying the ground work for the establishment of a genealogical library in the local public library. Early donations by the Independence Pioneers Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) were the first genealogy materials collected by the Mid-Continent Public Library.

 

The Jackson County Public Library, Mid-Continent Public Library’s predecessor and successor to the Independence Public Library, was formed in 1947. In 1971, MCPL acquired a collection of Missouri county histories, and the “Missouri Room” was opened at the Independence Branch to accommodate patrons pursuing local historical information. In 1972, the North Independence Branch of the Mid-Continent Public Library became the home of the genealogy collection. In 1996, the collection was moved to the facility that became the MCPL Genealogy and Local History Branch, and in 2008, the Midwest Genealogy Center was opened at 3440 S. Lee’s Summit Road in Independence, Missouri. Since the initial donation of a single $14.64 book by the DAR in 1927, the Midwest Genealogy Center’s collection has grown to over 17,000 circulating titles, more than 85,000 reference titles, and a vast number of periodicals and newspapers, as well as microforms, maps, and online databases.

 

The current “Genealogy from the Heartland” circulating collection began in 1984 with a small collection of books donated to the Mid-Continent Public Library by the American Family Records Association (AFRA). Other collections have been added over the years — the Missouri State Genealogical Association (MoSGA), the Heart of America Genealogical Society (HAGS), and the Gann Historical Society & Library, Inc. have added their libraries to our circulating collection and continue to add books that are donated to them. Little did the early members of the DAR realize that their small collection of books would be the beginning of a nationally-known resource center which today draws researchers from all over the world.2

So… since I’m headed out this weekend to speak to the 2017 Spring Seminar in Blue Springs, I figured I’d take a look at some of the resources… like the index to that set of folders from the Heart of America Genealogy Society Collection.

And wow…

Just wow…

Here are a few of the tidbits in this collection:

• Alderson, H., 3 pages: 1801 letter from Kentucky

• Blue Summit School, original class photo 1921: William L. Moore, teacher

• Brizendine, Samuel Tilden, 1 page: 1927 obituary

• Bullock, Rebecca, 2 pages: 1836 Will

• Hooper, Miller H., 1 page: 1915 obituary

• Lewis, Emma, 1 page: 1929 obituary

• Rowland, William, 2 pages: 1907 obituary

• Smith Bible Records, 6 pages: 19th century family records: donated by L. B. Guillod

• White Oak School, 1917 class picture of teacher, Mr. William L. Moore’s class

• Wilsey, J. J.,1 page: 1907 article re: 50th wedding anniversary

There are, additionally, 37 pages of names of persons featured in pedigree charts from this society’s records, now available in manuscript at the Midwest Genealogy Center, records and resources that may not be the same as a birth, marriage or death record — but that may be all that exist with respect to a family from long ago.

Manuscript collections of all kinds are priceless resources for genealogists and historical researchers, and the depth and breadth of the collections at the Midwest Genealogy Center is stunning.

No, they’re not digitized. Yes, you’ll need to make a road trip to see them.

But if you have ancestors from that part of the country — or whose families passed through and passed records on to this research repository — you’re going to want to take the time to check out this and other offerings in the Archival Collections of the Midwest Genealogy Center.


SOURCES

  1. Heart of America Genealogy Society Collection, Folder Index,” Midwest Genealogy Center, Mid-Continent Public Library (http://www.mymcpl.org/genealogy : accessed 28 Feb 2017).
  2. About the Midwest Genealogy Center, Midwest Genealogy Center, Mid-Continent Public Library (http://www.mymcpl.org/genealogy : accessed 28 Feb 2017).
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