2016-08-18 / Editorial

Connecting past and present

Library Links
By Leslie Rounds

While there are many things I love about my job at the Dyer Library and Saco Museum, one of my favorites is when I get to spend some time connecting past and present. We are fortunate to have the Roy P. Fairfield Maine History Room upstairs in the Dyer Library and it is a wonderful storehouse of information about the past. It takes enthusiasm and some easily acquired skills to make the connections to present, however.

What past, you might ask. Perhaps a better question would be: Whose past? We have a deep and growing collection of the kind of materials that make it possible to do really nitty-gritty genealogical research. Not only do we have the most robust version of Ancestry.com on the computer in the Maine History Room, but we also house a wide-ranging collection of the vital records and histories of many Maine towns, especially those in York County.

We have access to all the census records since the first U.S. census in 1790, but we can also help you locate French-Canadian ancestors, as well. (In fact, courtesy of the truly in-depth records that the Catholic churches in Quebec maintained, French-Canadian families are some of the easiest to track across the centuries.) Or perhaps it isn’t your ancestors you want to track, but the history of your house. We can help you with that, too.

Often genealogy is a lot like detective work. We all have favorite tricks that we employ, but effective genealogy generally involves picking away at a problem (like, for instance, who were that ancestor’s parents?) from a variety of different directions since records are hardly ever as complete as we would wish. I like to think that a good genealogist has many of the same skills as a talented detective.

There is just one (rather major) problem. The Maine History Room is staffed, Monday through Friday, by volunteers, and right now our volunteer pool has grown alarmingly … dry. Mondays and Tuesdays are generally fine. Our Wednesday volunteer is now having scheduling issues that make it impossible for her to come in many weeks. Thursdays and Fridays, we have no one. While I can run upstairs and manage the room in a pinch, it is ever so nice to have people there every week so that visitors can rely upon finding the help they need.

We are looking for a couple of outstanding volunteers. You can work as little as two or three hours a week. You can bring a friend. When you aren’t helping customers work on their family trees, you can use the resources to pursue your own genealogical issues. It would be very helpful if you have some familiarity with genealogy, and it is absolutely critical that it be something you enjoy. We can help you learn new tricks, too. If you have an inquiring mind, an interest in genealogy, a few spare hours on your hands weekly and a yen to try this, please give us a call: 283-3861.

Leslie Rounds is executive director of Dyer Library and Saco Museum.

Return to top