Before a fire ravaged the Los Angeles Central Library downtown, one of the most popular sections was the genealogy department. Any time it was open, you could find at least two dozen people squeezed together at the study tables, poring over stacks of worn books for clues to family histories.
Now that this prized genealogical collection will be closed for several years, where can family-tree seekers pursue their work? Perhaps surprisingly, Southern California has a number of libraries at which you can research your family history.
Newcomers to ancestor-tracing should first visit a library that has a staff member or volunteer familiar with genealogy. Many libraries are merely caretakers of a genealogical society's collection and do not have anyone to answer questions; in some cases, however, society members volunteer to help library patrons. If you can find out when these volunteers will be there, your search will be more productive.
Genealogical collections almost never circulate, so ask about photocopying rules and the availability of photocopiers. Bring plenty of change for self-serve copying.
For the Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday February 18, 1988 Home Edition View Part 5 Page 7 Column 1 You Desk 2 inches; 66 words Type of Material: Correction
The article concerning genealogical libraries ("10 Family Tree 'Branches,' " View, Feb. 11) incorrectly stated the Los Angeles Family History Library is closed the first two weeks of August. It should have read the last two weeks of August. The article did not mention that the Cahuilla chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution donated and contributes to the upkeep of the genealogical collection at the Palm Springs Public Library.
Here are 10 libraries at which you can trace your family tree:
San Diego Public Library, 820 E St., San Diego, (619) 236-5834. Open Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays, 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Closed Sundays and legal holidays.
The genealogy collection is in a room next to the California Room, where you must sign in. Many of the 3,700 volumes are on indefinite loan from a local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Emphasis is on the Eastern states, beginning genealogy and ethnic genealogy. Also available are foreign telephone directories, peerage books and a copy of the catalogue for the Newbery Library of Genealogy in Chicago. Microfilm reader/printers and photocopiers are located in the California Room and in the newspaper collection room. Copies are 15 cents each. The library staff is not trained to help with genealogical questions.
Carlsbad City Library, 1250 Elm Ave., Carlsbad, (619) 434-2870. Open Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed Sundays and legal holidays.
An impressive genealogical collection, established by the North San Diego County Genealogical Society, has more than 17,000 volumes, many on microform with a separate card catalogue. Located on the second floor, it includes the Draper Collection, the Pennsylvania State Archives, the New Jersey State Archives, a complete set of the New England Historical and Genealogical Society's register and the New York Biographical Record. A society volunteer is usually there in the afternoon; a staff member is there from 4 p.m. until closing. Several microform reader/printers are available; all copies are 10 cents each.
Palm Springs Public Library, 300 S. Sunrise Way, Palm Springs, (619) 323-8292. Hours September through May: Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Fridays, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Hours June through August: Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Fridays, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Closed Sundays and legal holidays.
The Palm Springs Genealogical Society maintains a collection that emphasizes the Western states. About 1,000 hardcover volumes are housed in the Reference Room. Some of the collection is on microform, including a copy of the catalogue for the California State Library at Sutro. Standard photocopies are 15 cents each; microform copies are 25 cents each. A society volunteer is usually there on Monday mornings.
Riverside City and County Public Library, 3581 7th St., Riverside, (714) 782-5201. Open Monday-Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Thursday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Closed Sundays and legal holidays.
The Riverside Genealogical Society collection is on the lower level next to the local history section. About 2,500 hardcover books are listed on the library's microfiche catalogue. A good collection of genealogical periodicals is listed by state but is not in the catalogue. An accelerated index to federal censuses called Trace-dex will be available soon. The local history collection, which includes the city's directory books back to the 1870s, has a separate catalogue. Society members volunteer several hours each month. A photocopier is available; copies are 10 cents each.
Huntington Beach Central Library, 7111 Talbert Ave., Huntington Beach, (714) 842-4481. Open Mondays, 1 to 9 p.m.; Tuesday-Thursday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed Sundays and legal holidays.
The Orange County Genealogical Society collection, housed on the top floor, contains more than 10,000 hardcover volumes with a separate card catalogue. The excellent periodical section has more than 200 titles. There is a wide range of material, with many books on Virginia and Ohio. The New England Historical and Genealogical Society's Register from 1847 to 1985 is on microfilm.