Our area’s genealogists are about to get a big boost.
The upcoming move of the Northeast Pennsylvania Genealogical Society to downtown Wilkes-Barre will create a complex of family history research sites within a block of one another.
Announced here two weeks ago, the move will be to Annex II of the Kirby Health Center, 57 N. Franklin St., next to the former First Methodist Church.
A big advantage of the move will be closeness of the genealogy group’s library and resources to two other important places for genealogists: the Bishop Library of the Luzerne County Historical Society and the Osterhout Free Library, both just a block away on South Franklin Street.
The three institutions dovetail nicely with one another in terms of their holdings.
At the Bishop you’ll find local city directories going back to 1870, hundreds of informative local history books, the Wilkes-Barre Record Almanac, an immense and growing file of area family trees and, perhaps most important of all, a broad range of local newspapers on microfilm (some now digitized) going back more than two centuries. Of course, there’s more, such as state mining reports (good for researching accidents) and the Luzerne County U.S. Census going back many years.
Two doors down at the Osterhout are additional local histories, directories, census records and almanacs, plus unique items such as historic local sports scrapbooks and backfiles of the old Sunday Independent newspaper, covering nearly the whole 20th century and packed with local news. There’s even a designated genealogy librarian.
The Genealogical Society’s holdings, far too numerous to list here, include such recent acquisitions as church records from the 11-county Roman Catholic Diocese of Scranton and the immense genealogical holdings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons).
Genealogists will still have to do some traveling, but the travel will be well worth it. Luzerne County records such as wills, deeds and naturalizations, now downtown but difficult to access, will soon move to a new county records storage building being prepared in Hanover Township at the industrial park, Middle Road. A spacious public area is in the works as renovation of the former U.S. Postal Service facility goes on.
The Genealogical Society, at its old location on the grounds of the Hanover Green Cemetery, Main Road, Hanover Township, will offer just two more open days this month before closing for the move. They are Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., with the 26th being the last day of operation. The new site is expected to open in the second week of August.
For all the institutions’ days and hours, go to their websites and Facebook pages.
Luzerne County Genweb: It’s been a long time since I’ve had cause to mention the Luzerne County Genweb, an excellent local genealogy site. The site, under the leadership of Mary Ann Lubinsky, just keeps chugging along with its immense contributions to the area’s genealogy scene.
Take the query board. It seems that a researcher no sooner puts a query on the message board than a half-dozen people check in with answers or advice. It is useful for both local and out-of-area genealogists. Some other Genweb sites, sad to say, have dropped their message boards, but not ours. Search for “Luzerne County Genweb.”
Family Search News: Every month this great free website offers not only more and more databases, but also a collection of live webinars on topics of interest to genealogists. Previous webinars are archived. Go to www.familysearch.org.
Tom Mooney is a Times Leader genealogy columnist. Reach him at [email protected]