17 October 2009

A Day At The Mid-Continent Genealogy Library

Yesterday was devoted to researching at the branch of the Mid-Continent Library in Independence, Missouri, dedicated to genealogical resources, which celebrated its Grand Opening on June 21, 2008.

[Photo of the Mid-Continent Library by Jim]

I was greeted at the door by Frances, a friendly and knowledgeable volunteer who provided me with a one on one walking tour of the facility. The microfilm reader room had a many of the typical reader/printers, but also had a machine that could save microfilm images on a flash drive.

Frances pointed out that patrons are encouraged to bring their family Bibles and other fragile books that need to be copied to a machine that allows the book to remain face up and is scanned from the top down.

There are also small rooms for more private discussions and consultations (which the library offers for free). The tour wasn't complete without a visit to the lounge (with vending machines). It seemed as though whoever planned this facility thought of everything.

Another unique feature of the Mid-Continent Library is that it will lend genealogical books through inter-library loan and has for several years. I used to order books from them when I lived in northern Michigan.

Because the library is in Jackson County, Missouri, I did not want to leave the library before tackling a minor problem centered in Kansas City. My great-great aunt, Elvira Elizabeth (Johnson) Lamont (or LaFonte) was supposed to be living in Kansas City when her father died per the obituary below:

From Harrisburg [IL] Register
August 21, 1918, p.4, c4

He (Rev. James Johnson) was married Dec. 24, 1858, to Miss Nancy J. Graves. To this union were born six children--four sons, namely; George, who preceded his father to the other world, J.D., Logan and Jake. Two daughters, namely, Mrs. Elvira Elizabeth Lamont of Kansas City, Mo., and Mrs. C.L. Rice of Harrisburg, Ill., with whom he made his home.

What was her husband's first name? Was her married name Lamont or LaFonte (it was listed as LaFonte on another document)? Would the Kansas City, Missouri, city directories provide the answer?

A check of the 1917, 1918, and 1919 Kansas City city directories (on microfilm) failed to provide any answers for me. I did not find great-great aunt Elvira Elizabeth listed. A check of additional years might be in order.

Luckily I had spent a couple of hours online with the Mid-Continent's library catalog in the motorhome the night before my excursion to the library and developed a list of books to consult, particularly pertaining to Missouri and Texas.

I also compiled a list of periodical articles I wanted to see from the PERSI site at HeritageQuest online, but forgot to check to see if the Mid-Continent Library subscribed to those particular periodicals (they didn't - duh). Oh well, I'll save that list for my next trip to Fort Wayne and the Allen Co. Library.

I was issued a library card which was used to sign on to the computers so I thought I'd might as well use it. About an hour was spent searching through the Ancestry.com and Footnote.com sites. After that my work there was done.

To see what else we did in the Kansas City, MO, area, see Jim's blog here. [Jim skipped the library excursion, went back to the motorhome and made dinner!]

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