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Salt Lake City in September

We’re headed west to Salt Lake City—and the amazing Family History Library—on September 4, just before Labour Day.

I’ve been to Salt Lake City many times. This will be trip 22—eek! For the first trips, it was an opportunity to have microfilmed records at my fingertips that otherwise were only available by arranging for their loan to my local Family History Centre. This involved the postal system, and waiting time, and making appointments—and a lot of distractions in between.

Today, many of the same records have been digitized and are available online. That’s a huge change. The one thing that hasn’t changed—or perhaps has increased—is the distraction factor. I now go to Salt Lake City to have an island of time to devote to digging into those records and putting them together into a story.

One of my favourite places in Salt Lake City: Red Butte Gardens

One of my favourite place in Salt Lake City: Red Butte Gardens

I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to do some of my own family research—with the odd diversion to some of the rogues and rebels I’ve found in other people’s families. (My ancestors were—so far—distressingly well behaved.)

I’m also looking forward to sharing the experience with friends who have travelled with the group before and introducing new group members to the Library and the intriguing city.

Maybe you’d like to join us? We will arrive in Salt Lake on Sunday, September 4, 2016, for one or two weeks.

You’ll find prices and more details about the trip here. Our blocks of airline seats and hotel rooms are limited, so I’d advise booking soon. There are a handful of “repeat” travellers already on the list.

Exploring the Lennox and Addington Archives

Earlier this month I had the opportunity to visit the new Lennox and Addington County Museum and Archives in Napanee. I’d been asked to do a presentation for the local historical society there, and well, who can resist an archives!

I have no ancestry in the area, and although my interests in Ontario history are broad, I can’t claim to have any current research projects from that neck of the woods.

Steps and ramp to a limestone archway in the courtyard wall.

Entrance and courtyard of the Lennox and Addington Museum and Archives, Napanee. ©Jane E MacNamara

I looked at the Archives website about a week before my trip so I could contact the staff ahead of time to let them know I was coming. (Always a good idea for a small archives.) I also asked if a tour was possible—since I’d planned to write this article.

The website noted above lists 14 finding aids for the collection. These are pdf scans of collection inventories done mainly in the late 1980s, but searchable. The inventories, in many cases, briefly describe fonds of a similar nature or creator.1 So the 14 finding aids represent a much larger number of fonds. For instance the “Municipal Records” finding aid encompasses school, jail, law enforcement, court, and assessment records, licenses, minutes, bylaws, voters lists, and public utilities—for all levels of local government—towns, townships, county, and the Midland District.2

As a sample fonds for this article, I looked at the “Private Papers” finding aid and selected the “Elsie Parks Papers”. The inventory for this fonds ran to just over two pages, and showed that the collection was divided into to six files. More about Elsie and her papers later.

Archivist stands between rows of compact shelving with large bound ledgers and archival boxes of various sizes.

Archivist Shelley Respondek showing the wide variety of material in the Lennox and Addington Archives records vault. ©Jane E MacNamara

The Lennox and Addington County Museum and Archives have been located in the old limestone county gaol since 1976. To celebrate the County’s sesquicentennial in 2014, a beautiful new archives wing was added, and the doors were opened last August.

Archivist Shelley Respondek was my guide. We started in the records vault where compact shelving units now allow proper storage of just about every shape and size of document and register book. Efforts are ongoing (and perhaps never-ending) to get new acquisitions housed and organized.

The reading room is bright and airy, with lots of table space and wifi. One glass wall separating the reading room from the corridor, provides a view of the museum’s limestone wall, currently with a colourful display of WWI posters. Out the windows opposite, trains go by at regular intervals.

A third long wall houses the extensive research library—local and family histories and lots of Loyalist material, as well as more than 2,000 unique family files.

These family files have been compiled over the years from researchers’ donations and correspondence with researchers. For example there are three files for “Parks” families including pedigree charts, typed biographies, and photocopies of original documents.

The fourth and final wall of the reading room houses the microfilm area—three readers/scanners and cabinets—and the archivist’s work area. There is also a card index to several local newspapers.

Tables and chairs with bookcases in the background.

Reading room at the Lennox and Addington Archives showing the local history books and file drawers for more than 2,000 family files. ©Jane E MacNamara

Back to the “Elsie Parks Papers”. The finding aid provides no biography of Elsie, but the fonds includes documents about her training and employment as a teacher in Napanee. There is much correspondence—with family members in California and St. Catharines, and a series of letters about “black Minorca chickens” with various parties in Ontario and eastern Canada.

Elsie’s files include letters, certificates, and ephemera from several generations of her family mostly from the Napanee area. There is a business journal from A.C. Parks of Hay Bay. Most material dates from the mid 19th century up to about 1930, the most recent being about 1960.

But I was really surprised and excited to find an original surveyor’s diary covering the dates April 1796 to May 1797. The diarist didn’t write his name in the book, so his identity or connection to Elsie Parks is unknown. He wasn’t working in Lennox and Addington, but in York and the Home District, east along Lake Ontario to Burlington Bay, and on the Grand River. He specifically mentions investigating locations for a bridge over the Credit River and working in the area around Castle Frank.

Handwritten book with archival weight holding it open.

The 1796-1797 surveyor’s diary from the Elsie Parks Papers at the Lennox and Addington Archives. The right-hand page records work at Castle Frank. ©Jane E MacNamara

Now, for those not immersed in Toronto history, Castle Frank was the summer home of Upper Canada’s first Lieutenant-Governor, John Graves Simcoe and his family. Named for their young son, Francis, and sketched by Elizabeth Simcoe, its exact location on the Don River has always been a contentious matter for historians.

Perhaps there is a clue in this precious surveyor’s diary, kept safe by Napanee schoolteacher Elsie Parks during her life, and now by the Lennox and Addington Archives.

 


NOTES

1. For an explanation of archives terminology, see The Archives of Ontario: How do I find what’s in it for me?

2. The Lennox and Addington Museum and Archives website has a good listing of holdings in its “Genealogy” section including links to other resources of interest. Some 57 fonds have also been listed on Archeion.

Genealogy “Summer Camp” 2015

I’m pleased to announce that after a one-year hiatus, “Summer Camp” will return this year, starting with a get-together on Sunday evening, June 7, and running until Friday, June 12.

Genealogy Summer Campers are on the move every day of this innovative week long program. Each day, participants will travel as a group on public transit to an archives or library—where you’ll be met with a tour or a tutorial on the records available at that institution. Some days there will be a second tutorial during the afternoon. The balance of the day will be devoted to your own hands-on research, with lots of help from local experts.

We’re very lucky to have a wonderful cluster of archives and libraries in Toronto that welcomes our Summer Camp groups. Participants will have the opportunity to visit the Toronto Reference Library, Canadiana Department of North York Central Library, Archives of Ontario, City of Toronto Archives, and a choice of the archives of Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto, Anglican Diocese of Toronto, Presbyterian Church in Canada, and the United Church of Canada’s Central Ontario Conferences.

Genealogy Summer Camp buttonSpace is limited. We keep the number of Campers small so we can provide individual help with your research.

You can help us plan and move forward by registering early. We already have several people signed up.

You’ll find more information about the program and accommodation, and the online registration form here.

Salt Lake City in February: Join us!

This beautiful city—and the amazing Family History Library—has me hooked. I’ve been to Salt Lake City many times. I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to do some of my own family research—with the odd diversion to some of the rogues and rebels I’ve found in other people’s families. (My ancestors were all very well behaved.)

I’m also looking forward to sharing the experience with friends who have travelled with the group before and introducing new group members to the Library and the intriguing city. Maybe you’d like to join us? We will arrive in Salt Lake on February 10, 2015, for one or two weeks. Most of the group will depart from Toronto, but we can accommodate other starting points.

The Salt Lake Temple, focal point of Salt Lake City's Temple Square (photo: Jane E. MacNamara)

The Salt Lake Temple, focal point of Salt Lake City’s Temple Square (photo: Jane E. MacNamara)

The first few days of the trip, February 11 to 14, will be buzzing with two big family history conferences—FGS 2015 and Rootstech 2015—that have combined forces for a one-time special genealogical event. But if you’re anxious to hunker down and get your nose into those old records right away, that’s OK. The Family History Library will be fully staffed and open extra long hours.

You’ll find prices and more details about the trip here. Our blocks of airline seats and hotel rooms are limited, so I’d advise booking soon. There are a handful of “repeat” travellers already on the list.

Mark your calendar for our 2013 Salt Lake City trip

I can’t quite fathom how this much time has passed, but 2013 will be my 20th trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. A number of my travel mates seem anxious to add to their list of visits, and you’re invited, too.

The elegant new City Creek development—shopping and residences—in downtown Salt Lake City. (photo: Jane E. MacNamara)

The elegant new City Creek development—shopping and residences—in downtown Salt Lake City. (photo: Jane E. MacNamara)

We’ll fly from Toronto on Sunday, September 8. You can choose to stay for one or two weeks. (We can accommodate other departure points.)

For family historians, there is no place like the Family History Library—an unimaginable collection of original records on microfilm from all over the world, free access to subscription databases and an extensive collection of genealogies, local histories and research handbooks.

The best parts, though, are the knowledgeable staff, top-notch equipment, and the opportunity to grab some concentrated research time in a too-busy life!

Salt Lake City also has some of the most spectacular desert and mountain scenery in the U.S.A. Our hotel is just a short walk from the magnificent Salt Lake Temple, the Mormon Tabernacle, major concert halls and shopping. TRAX, the city’s electric transit system (free in the downtown area) will take you to more shopping and points of interest. A short drive or bus ride will take you to the Great Salt Lake, state parks, many historic sites and Olympic-class ski resorts.

September is lovely in Salt Lake City—warm, late-summer daytime temperatures with cool evenings. The gardens of Temple Square will be overflowing with flowers—chrysanthemums, asters, lavender, roses, sage, and exotic grasses.

The Carlton Hotel is a pleasant stroll away from Temple Square and the Family History Library in Salt Lake City (photo: Jane E. MacNamara)

The Carlton Hotel is a pleasant stroll away from Temple Square and the Family History Library in Salt Lake City (photo: Jane E. MacNamara)

We’ll be staying at the Carlton Hotel. Built in the 1920s, it is a friendly, 45-room hotel with cable TV and a refrigerator in each unique room. A full cooked-to-order breakfast (or continental if you prefer) is included. Regular van transportation to and from the Family History Library is provided free of charge.

THE TOUR PACKAGE INCLUDES:

  • round trip airfare from Toronto
  • hotel accommodation for 7 or 14 nights including breakfast
  • a special group dinner
  • introduction to the Family History Library
  • walking tours to points of interest
  • all applicable taxes
The Salt Lake Temple, focal point of Salt Lake City's Temple Square (photo: Jane E. MacNamara)

The Salt Lake Temple, focal point of Salt Lake City’s Temple Square (photo: Jane E. MacNamara)

Royal City Travel (Guelph) will handle travel arrangements for us, again. Although prices for 2013 will not be available for a few months, you can use the 2012 prices below as a guideline. We’ll stay as close to them as we can.

Airfare and accommodation (per person)

ONE WEEK (Note: 2012 prices)
Single occupancy $2195
Double occupancy $1800

TWO WEEKS (Note: 2012 prices)
Single occupancy $3083
Double occupancy $2290

I’ll be posting more details about the trip from time to time, and we’ll set prices and start taking reservations by the beginning of May.

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