Friday, January 30, 2015

507. Irvington and Butler Honor Former Slave Family

Butler University Founder’s Day
Irvington Library
Monday, February 2, 2015
3:30 to 4:30 with remarks at 4 p.m.

          The enlarged and restored photograph of Gertrude Amelia Mahorney from the Class of 1887 composite will be unveiled with remarks of what has been discovered about her and her parents and grandparents.
          This is a most interesting family of early freed slaves who became abolitionists and movers and shakers in the post-war Negro convention movement. The research goes on.

          Steve Barnett, the Irvington historian, and Andrea Neal, who is doing a series of history articles for the Indiana Bicentennial, are expected to be in attendance. The public is most welcome.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

506. Would Losing ISL Genealogy Be All Bad?

I’ve been thinking about it, so let’s play devil’s advocate here a little bit. What would be the repercussions of closing the Genealogy Division of the Indiana State Library?
            The current location and services do have a few drawbacks, to say the least. For one, no one I know actually likes to visit the State Library. The location really sucks, being down in the Government Center, with lots of foot and vehicle traffic of a non-genealogy nature.
            Many suburban and rural Hoosiers avoid downtown Indy like the plague, anyway, even though the “hood” reputation is mostly undeserved. If you think that doesn’t affect research traffic, I’ve researched in the Genealogy Division often for several hours, and I would be the only patron there.
            The parking situation is definitely substandard, especially during legislative sessions and during one of the numerous downtown events. Ever try to get there during one of those interminable marathons? And the new parking vendor has got to be raking in a fortune!
            The hours are marginal, being closed most evenings, all Sundays and holidays. If you are one of those 9 to 5 working folks with families, it’s probably more convenient to go to Fort Wayne. It’s always seemed to me that the Genealogy collection is a stepchild anyway, with very little State attention paid to it. I’ll bet 99+% of the $400,000 is for salaries and not new printed materials or new digital resources.
            The facilities also come up short. Why can’t you use scanners in there? Why all the No Copying restrictions? Do they ever rebind a book? Do they totally depend on book donations to improve their collection? What do you do for lunch? No coffee shop, no sandwiches--it’s so nice on a cold, snowy day to walk a few blocks to find that stuff. They won’t even let you walk through the tunnel to get to the cafeteria in the State Office Building. How rude is that? Why do State employees trump state taxpayers?

            So, taking a look, what if they do shut Genealogy down at ISL? What might happen?
For one thing, I doubt if the collection would be sold on eBay. It would probably find a nice home somewhere else. Perhaps the Indianapolis Public Library would acquire it for their Main Branch, or even remodel one of their branches as an Indianapolis Genealogy Center. You might even be able to research until 9 o’clock at night! With free parking!
            Maybe a state university could get it; they always seem to be rolling in tax money. IUPUI would be a good choice, but it would not necessarily need to be in Indianapolis—Muncie or Terre Haute are good choices. The west side of the state could use a little action.
            If the State Archives are relocated onto the War Memorial Mall and enlarged, the Genealogy materials could be moved there. It wouldn’t cost much—Archives volunteers could do most of the work, like they do now. I doubt if the paid Genealogy staffers at ISL would lose their jobs; surely there’s enough churn in State employees that they could move into an equivalent spot in another department in Indy.
            Maybe a county library system close by would pick up the ISL collection. The dollars that the Allen County genealogy department brings into that community would be a model for another library system to emulate. They could put it down around Seymour or Brownstown to give southern Hoosiers a good research facility closer than Fort Wayne.
            The long and the short of it is that closing the ISL Genealogy Division would not be an insurmountable loss to Indiana researchers. If the State doesn’t want it, I’m sure there are a lot of options for others to take it over. Let’s use our imaginations—it might even be a good thing!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

505. Over Half of 1812 Pension Files Online!

   Thanks to a LOT of genealogy donors, the War of 1812 Pension File program has exceeded the halfway point. Now you can go to Fold3 and research files with surnames from A through I. As you can see below, that's over 1,600,000 pages. Whew! The project still needs money to finish, so let's keep on sourcing this, crowd!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

504. Pence Proposes Eliminating State Library Genealogy

[The following press release was forwarded to me. This is an excerpt.]

Press Release from State Librarian Jacob Speer,   January 15, 2015                 (Excerpt)

                        It is in the best interest of the citizens of Indiana that the projected cuts in funding set forth in the current budget proposal be reevaluated in consideration of the education needs of every Hoosier. The proposed 24% cut in funding would jeopardize the accessibility of information vital to millions of Indiana residents and could result in reducing Indiana State Library staff by 10%. The following is a concise list of evidence supporting the continuation of funding for various services provided by the Indiana State Library. Your cooperation in supporting the continuous funding of these programs in the 2015 legislative session would be greatly appreciated.

Proposed Reduction in Funding
INSPIRE                                                                                                $1,340,783
Genealogy Department                                                                          $400,000
Public Library Standards & Certification                                              $150,000
Total:                                                                                                     $1,890,783


            The proposal to eliminate all funding ($400,000) for the Genealogy department of the library will impact the availability and use of a one-of-a-kind resource that includes many elements of family history and Indiana history.
            Specific statutory authority for the program: 
IC 4-23-7.1 Sec. 3. The state library shall maintain, develop, and service a collection of books, periodicals, newspapers, maps, manuscripts, audiovisual materials, and other library materials for the purpose of:
        (1) meeting the informational, educational, and research needs of state government;
        (2) preserving and making available for use, materials bearing on the history of the state;
        (3) meeting the specialized library needs and interests of citizens of Indiana; and
        (4) supplementing the reference and materials resources of the libraries of the state.
            The Indiana State Library (ISL) is home to one of the largest Genealogy collections in the Midwest. This collection (over 100,000 items) is focused on Indiana, states from which Indiana was settled as well as some foreign countries. The collection is rich with unique family histories and genealogy materials that cannot be found in other locations. In comparison, the Indiana Historical Society (IHS) only collects materials on Indiana and the Old Northwest – genealogy research can never be restricted to one state only. Family trees branch outside of a single state and spread throughout the country and across oceans.  Genealogy collections (including ours) contain materials for neighboring states as well as items covering the east and southern coasts (where most immigrants landed) and genealogical resources for other countries (mainly in Europe where most immigrants came from). These types of resources are not collected by IHS or the Indiana State Archives or the Historical Bureau.
            In addition, the ISL serves as the Genealogy destination for patrons that use the Indianapolis Marion County Public Library (IPL). In the past, IPL donated their collection to ISL because they were not going to actively collect for Genealogy and they wanted somewhere close by to send their patrons and know they would get service in this area. Over the years they have also donated funds so that ISL could purchase valuable Genealogy research materials to be kept in the collection and used by patrons statewide. It has been a beneficial partnership.
            Staff members who work in genealogy are playing important roles in planning the library’s role in the State’s bicentennial commemoration including the State Visitor Center that will be installed on the library’s first floor adjacent to the genealogy department. 49% of all reference questions that come into the ISL are for research from these genealogy materials.
            For such a small portion of our overall budget, we provide exceptional research materials to the public including students, genealogy librarians, historians, and legislators; preserving Indiana history for generations to come.