CMS's Fall Genealogy Outing
University of Washington Library Genealogy Resources
By Thomas L. McIntyre
Clan MacIntyre Society's first genealogy meeting of the season was held on Saturday, November 21, 1998. It turned out to be a fun and educational experience. This year's fall excursion took place at Suzzallo-Allan Library on the University of Washington campus in Seattle. Suzzallo-Allan is two separate libraries that are connected. Suzzallo is the older library and Allan is the newer facility with the more contemporary collection. The highlight of our outing was not only the marvelous resources available at the libraries, but the wonderful tour given by our guide and professional genealogy researcher, Evelyn Roehl.
Our day started out rather shaky with a 40-minute delay due to some confusion on where to meet Evelyn. Our arrangements were to meet at the grand staircase of Suzzallo. Next time I'm going know what a grand staircase really looks like! Once we gathered, and started our tour, it wasn't long before it became apparent what extraordinary assets the library offers to the genealogy researcher.
We started our tour on the first floor of Suzzallo, stopping by the area containing the microform-newspaper collection. At least one newspaper is on microfilm for most American major cities and usually go back well over one hundred years. Many foreign cities are included in the collection, and there are indexes available to the New York Times from 1850 and Times of London from 1790. This department is wonderful for finding obituaries and was the section I was most familiar. I have had success finding articles and obituaries in the San Francisco Chronicle and to a lesser degree the Chicago Tribune.
Suzallo's newspaper collection has lots of smaller and more specialized publications, which are arranged by region and date. They can be located through the library's card catalog or computer. Velda Wright-McDonald found information on a Mr. McIntyre, who was an officer with the Hudson Bay Company, based at Fort William, Ontario. He was instrumental in directing a British Expeditionary Force to the Red River Settlement by going up the Kaministiquin and Matawin rivers. Other's felt that this route was impossible to navigate.
Our tour continued as we followed Evelyn up to third floor of Suzzallo where all the periodicals and newsletters from historical societies are located. Then we went back down to the stuffed and stuffy second floor (which has a really low ceiling). Here was housed the treasured foreign collection with books on and from all over the world. Included were volume after volume of histories on Scotland, Ireland, and Wales and references to counties and parishes within these locals. Some titles related to Scottish history were The Place Names of Argyll, by H. Cameron Gillies; The Jacobite Army in England 1745, by F. J. McLynn; The Scottish Insurrection of 1820, by P. Barresford Ellis & Seumas Mac a' Ghobhainn; The Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments of Argyll Scotland Vol. #1, #2, #3 & #4, and Books on James III and James IV by Norman Macdougall.
The second floor also had books on social histories from all geographical regions. Most researchers find that when these regional histories and facts are included in one's family history, their writings come alive and are not just simply charts and cold statistics.
When guided to the fourth floor of Suzzallo Library, we first visited the west end, which includes a collection of reference material on Heraldry, Nobility, and Royalty. On the east side of the fourth floor we found the same wealth of information as on the second floor. Located here were the histories of states and counties', and shelf after shelf of reverence material included different types of registers and court records. This section also housed the military collection including the American Revolution, War of 1812, and Civil War records and histories. Here Steve Washburn found information on a Civil War North Carolina coastal battle that one of his ancestors participated in.
The basement of Suzzallo Library is home to the map section. Maps from all over the world are found in this department. Ordinance survey maps, topographical maps, British parish maps, and even maps of Civil War battles are included in this collection. Found here are atlases and gazetteers in all shapes and sizes covering the entire world. Lona and Richard Manning searched maps of Egham, Surrey England, trying to gather information on the area. Lona's father was born at the Wick in Egham, and none of us knew what the Wick really referred too. After examining several maps, finally one was found, which showed an area on the outskirts of Egham, called the Wick. It's likely that there is additional information to be found about the Wick, like a manor house or farm, but at least the sector itself was located.
The last area visited was the Special Collections Section, located in the south basement of Allen Library. This collection includes rare and valuable books, documents and manuscripts that require extra care and security. Researchers must wear white gloves when inspecting some of the more valuable items in this section. Security is extra tight in this area; all book bags, backpacks, and purses must be checked in at the desk before entry is granted. I had some rather routine research to do in an older city directory, and even though it was a fairly common book, I was required to check in my case at the desk before entry. When we visit again this section is scheduled for further examination.
I believe that those of us that researched at Suzzallo-Allan felt that this was just beginning of our usage of this library. We will be back many more times! The fact that these libraries are such a treasure to those of us interested in family history was not a big surprise. I think we all knew their terrific potential value.
University libraries do not have genealogical sections, so materials useful to genealogist are scattered throughout library. That is why it is important to either take a tour of the library or at least become acquainted with the library's catalog system and physical facilities. Some professional genealogists say that it's best to emphasize the fact that you are doing historical research rather than family history. Their theory is that there might be some prejudice or complacency when a request for assistance is made by a family historian. However, anytime that I asked for help from the library staff, they were more than willing to give assistance.
Over the past year we have received information from members and non-members describing some of the fine collections in university libraries. A society friend in the northeast brought to my attention that Rutgers University had a very good collection of material on Scotland. The colleges and universities in the Carolina's, particularly North Carolina, have been renown for their Scottish holdings. The University of Colorado in Boulder, with its British collection, is one of the best in the nation. I recently received three rather rare books on Scotland's history via interlibrary loan from Alderman Library at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville. Like Suzzallo, many other research institutions offer a wealth of genealogical material.
There was more to the day than the research and mental stimulation. Once again we were invited to Michael and Barbara Carmels for what has become a traditional post genealogy research dinner. We had a sensational meal and I am sure that over the evening, we must have set a Guinness World Record for laughter! It was a wonderfully fun evening, and our researcher and guide Evelyn Roehl put it best by saying, I started out amongst strangers, now I have met some new friends.:
The Suzallo-Allen Library at the University of Washington, Seattle.
Right-to-left: Richard Manning, Evelyn Roehl, and Lona Manning.
Ken McDonald and Susan McDonald-Wright
share a father-daughter moment.