Aug. 8 will be a banner day for the area’s genealogists.
That’s the day when the Northeast Pennsylvania Genealogical Society will open its new and larger research library and headquarters in downtown Wilkes-Barre – with expanded hours of service.
The opening will begin at 11 a.m. for the new site at 57 N. Franklin St. in Wilkes-Barre. That’s Annex 2 of the Kirby Health Center, next door to the former First Methodist Church. The research library will be located on the second floor. The last day for the public to visit the old Hanover Township site will be Thursday, this week, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Then the library will close for the move.
Hours of operation will increase. The research library will be open to the public on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the second Saturday of the month from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. A formal grand opening will be held in September.
The move will place the society’s operations just a block away from two other major local sources of genealogical information: the Bishop Library of the Luzerne County Historical Society and the Osterhout Free Library, both on South Franklin Street. Research into local ancestors will become more convenient with so many sources of information close by one another, particularly for people coming from other areas. For hours of the other two organizations, see their websites.
Genealogists seeking Luzerne County documents such as wills and deeds will soon have another fine new resource in the form of a county records office, which will be open to the public. That facility is expected to be ready for operation this fall at Hanover Industrial Estates in Hanover Township, along Middle Road.
The new home will be the third for the genealogical society. The first home was a small building in the Shavertown section of Kingston Township, back in the 1990s. As people flocked in to do their research, that building soon became inadequate. The group then moved to a portion of the caretaker building on the grounds of the Hanover Green Cemetery, Hanover Township.
As membership rose above 300 and Facebook popularity topped 1,000, the society began looking for still more space.
Summer Excursions: There are plenty of regional places to visit that will warm a genealogist’s heart and won’t require extensive travel or an overnight stay. In New York City, just a 2 1/2-hour drive, you can take in Ellis Island, the immigrant processing station from 1892 to 1954. Also in the big city is the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, with historically restored apartments to show how incoming ethnic groups lived.
Have Civil War ancestors? Try the two nearest sites – Gettysburg, in south-central Pennsylvania, and Antietam, in northern Maryland.
Very close at hand are good local sites. Eckley Miners Village, just outside Hazleton, offers a living history portrait of 19th-century mining life. Steamtown, in Scranton, has trains and a railroad research library.
For insight into colonial times, the Swetland Home and the Denison Home, along Route 11, offer portrayals of colonial times.
Search for them all by name and you’ll find detailed websites.
News Notes: The office of the U.S. Census says it faces a challenge in recruiting enough temporary employees for the upcoming census of 2020. The problem: an economic climate that has plenty of other jobs available. But the program refuses to panic and says it’s confident that in time it will find enough people “to follow up by phone or in person with households that do not respond to the questionnaire.”
Tom Mooney is a Times Leader genealogy columnist. Reach him at [email protected]