Presentation Notes by Jeanne M. Carley
What do some genealogists know about Chatham's Eldredge Library that others don't know?
It's a special haven for finding, not only the typical general reference books and resources, but many other useful and obscure resources that one would never imagine to be located in a small library. Margery Campbell, a longtime CCGS member who has managed the genealogy room for many years, told her audience just how unusual and how valuable the library has become. She also shared some historical background of this distinctive and large collection on the Cape.
Called the Edgar Francis Waterman Memorial Collection honoring the memory of a well-known Connecticut genealogist, there is a trust fund to continue buying books, update the computer and pay for staff. It was begun by Mrs. McMaster, Mr. Waterman's daughter, another experienced genealogist who developed the collection with money and books from anonymous donors as well as her father's. Besides being responsible for ensuring that the library is well endowed, Mrs. McMaster organized the library.
Marjorie's extensive hand-out illustrated her point - holdings too long to list and quite surprising in nature - but this listing was only the tip of the iceberg. In addition, she enumerated another list of volumes beginning with Indian deeds and land transactions in Plymouth Colony in 1620, Vital Record books for Massachusetts, and histories for Mass, Maine (part of Mass until 1830), and New York as well as several books on Loyalists and Atlantic Canada.
The former nurse turned genealogy librarian explained some of the reasons for including these works and why people migrated to these areas. They were: going there by ship, finding wonderful natural resources such as timber and game or a river such as the Connecticut or Hudson running through it. Later men went to war and liked what they saw or had bounty land coming to them or their families or younger sons had to find new land. Quakers left for New York and New Jersey for religious reasons; Loyalists went to Nova Scotia before, during and after the Revolution. A fairly large immigration collection exists which ranges from Early Immigrants to America to San Francisco Passenger Lists (1850-1875) and much more in between. Also included are 630 written genealogies of Cape people as well as many off-Cape names.
Marjorie cited other records from Barbados families (the connection to New England in the slave trade), documents regarding Acadian deportees in New England towns, passports of Southeastern pioneers (1770-1823)-a list of Anglo-American settlers in the Spanish colonies of America-pirates of the New England coast (1639-1730) and many others to whet the interests of family researchers. She gave a lengthy sampling of unusual records that one would never suspect finding there, e.g., Dutch, Early Mohawk Valley and Beekman Patent (NY) families, early Pennsylvania and German pioneers to PA., Irish settlers, etc. There are many CD ROMs available which include census indexes for New England, the MidAtlantic, the South and the Midwest.
Marjorie invited her audience to come and discover the treasures. She suggested checking the library's website: www.eldredgelibrary.org/genealogy.html, using the CLAMS website, or coming in to browse. Hours are Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 1-5 PM. Paula Grundberg, a CCGS member, is in charge now, though Marjorie is still there on Tuesdays.
See the Presentation Notes Index for summaries of other presentations given at the Society's monthly meetings.