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Shaking Your Family Tree!

Mail-Order Adds to Research Efficiency


Finding genealogical books, whether you want to buy or borrow them, is a problem. And if you locate them, you discover you can't whip out your library card and take them home. They usually are classified as reference books, which means you must use them at the library.

The farther you live from a library with a good genealogy collection, the more frustrating is this problem if you've been bitten by the genealogy bug. Even if you live next door to the library, if its hours are 9 to 5, Monday through Friday, and those are the same hours your boss expects you to be on the job, when can you do any research?

Two major sources that loan genealogical books are the National Genealogical Society and New England Historic Genealogical Society. You pay an annual fee, but membership in either or both these societies will give you access (via mail) to thousands of genealogical books.

Both societies have catalogues--genealogists' wish books. Take a deep breath and decide which line you're going to work on first or you will be like a child in a candy store--wanting it all.

NGS' catalogue is divided into topics, such as genealogies and family histories (United States and foreign), United States local history (by state), church history, passenger lists, atlases, heraldry, immigration, military, patriotic societies, periodicals and textbooks.

If you've ever heard of a genealogy having been published about your family or discover a reference to one at the Library of Congress or LDS Library in Salt Lake City, consult NGS' and NEHGS' catalogues. It might be available to you on loan.

Stuck in Pennsylvania? By consulting these catalogues you will find not only books but hard-to-locate periodicals, such as Volumes 1-12 (1900-1911) of "The Pennsylvania-German." This popular magazine of biography, history, genealogy, folklore and literature probably is not available at your local library.

While NEHGS has one of the country's finest collections of that region's genealogical material, it is not limited to the Northeast. Its catalogues and supplements to the circulating collection, while heavy in New England and New York regional materials, also offers material from other regions--Florida, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia and Michigan, among others. It has British Isles, Canadian and Caribbean materials, plus biographies and cassette tape recordings of the society's evening lecture series available.

Both societies offer additional benefits to members, but the book-lending availability of the circulating libraries is worth the price of membership alone.

With New England or Canadian roots you probably will find more sources available to you through NEHGS. On the other hand, if you have Southern or Mid-Atlantic roots, NGS probably has more to offer you. However, if your ancestors settled in Colonial New York it's a toss-up as to which one you should join.

National Genealogical Society's annual membership costs $30. Its address is 4527 17th St. N., Arlington, Va. 22207. New England Historic Genealogical Society, located at 101 Newbury St., Boston, Mass. 02116, charges $40 annual dues.

In addition to membership fees, your book-borrowing will cost you some extra money--but it is not expensive. You must pay the costs of shipping books, plus whatever processing fees the society charges for its book-lending service. The process can be slow sometimes and the book you want may be out on loan when you want it, but the more limited your research time, the more valuable this book-borrowing-by-mail service is.

Write to NGS and NEHGS for information about membership and borrowing books from their circulating collections. Include a self-addressed, stamped envelope with your request.

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