Friday, September 16, 2011

Day 11 of the Seaver Family History Mystery Tour

Friday, September 16th, was an interesting research day, and fairly productive too.  Here are the highlights:

*  I arrived at the State Historical Society of Wisconsin (816 State Street) in Madison, Wisconsin shortly after 9 a.m.  My first stop was the Archives section on the 4th floor.  After filling out the registration form and receiving my researchers card, I asked the gentleman helping me where I might find Wisconsin State Senate records from March 1866 (the Devier J. Lamphier Smith name change).  My hope was that there would be something more - like a supporting file - than just the Senate Act granting the name change.  This Archive is very well organized - you check the online catalog, write the call number, box or volume number, shelf location, title and your name on a form and they bring the item to you within 5 minutes.  However, you can work on only one item at a time.  Because these were oversized books difficult to copy and fairly brittle, they permitted me to use my digital camera to obtain an image.  I found the Devier Smith name change in the Senate minutes, but nothing more.  Drat.

*  My next foray was into the Wisconsin Naturalization records for Linda's Leland and Natvig families.  I found a declaration for several of them, and several certificates too.  This was a two-step process - look in a physical card file for the names, note the box or volume, and then order the box with the documents.

*  I met Linda for lunch at the local Jimmy John's.  The WSHS is located on the edge of the University of Wisconsin campus, and there was lots of foot and bike traffic on the State Street pedestrian mall.  Then we walked back to the WSHS building and went into the Library section. 

*  I made a quick tour around the reading room, and only saw government documents, including many US census indexes, some cemetery transcription books, etc.  I asked where the county and family histories were located - there are four floors of book shelves in addition to the reading room!  I explored the county histories floor but many books of interest were off the shelf being imaged by Google Books.

*  Back in the reading room, I checked the catalog and then asked how to find pamphlets for several of the Dane County towns where Linda's ancestors resided in the 1860 to 1910 period.  I had to fill out order cards and submit them to the circulation desk.  I ordered four, but only two were available, so I sat in a big easy chair and read them.  I copied one of them on the copy machines - they were different - the copy is made face up.  I had to hold the pages down so that they could be scanned, so my fingers showed up in the copies.  The quality was poor.

*  I was done by 2:30 p.m., so we decided to go to the Norwegian-American Genealogical Center and Naeseth Library (415 West Main Street in Madison).  My goal here was to find local family history in Dane County for Linda's Leland and Natvig families.  The Center has a very helpful and knowledgeable staff, and a wealth of genealogical material concerning Norwegian records and American records of persons with Norwegian heritage.  I was really impressed!  I obtained copies of transcribed church records, articles from a book of Voss emigrants, and more.  The director worked with my genealogy reports on the families, and looked up material in his 300,000+ person database which included vital records, cemetery records, probate, and more.  I was able to add some dates to my database.  A visit by a non-member of the library costs $15, but it was well worth it to see the records and to discuss Norwegian research with the director.  It was a fast two hours!  Thank you to Linda's cousin, Bonnie Larson, a Genea-Musings reader, for the suggestion!

*  We rewarded ourselves for a long day in the stacks with a cocktail and a nice dinner at Outback Steak House, then back to the hotel to get ready for our trip into the Dane County countryside on Saturday - we'll be looking at Leland and Natvig home sites, gravestones, and churches. 

I wish that I could have had a whole week to explore everytihng at these repositories.  The Archives in particular has a wealth of resources all in one place.  The Library has a treasure trove of published books, and I didn't even try to look at newspapers there.  The NSGCNL has many more published books on Norwegian records since I did all of the research back in 1999.  Beggars cannot be choosers - I have to balance my research wants with Linda's absolute boredom when I do research in repositories. 

Stay tuned for the next riveting chapter in the SFHMT.


Susan Clark said...

I am thoroughly enjoying the SFHMT and impressed that you can share it with us in such detail.

RBrass189 said...

Very interesting to read about your last two days. Sounds like you've had some success here in Wisconsin. Glad to hear it. Hope Saturday's searches are fruitful for you.

Root Digger said...

It is great that you had a very productive day! Thanks for sharing.

QuiltinLibraryLady said...

Your genealogy hobby keeps you plenty busy. What is Linda's hobby? Sounds to me like you need make a trip to these areas by yourself and spend a little more time with the resources without worrying about your wife's boredom and food allergies. I suppose that sounds heartless of me, but life is short,you know?

Anonymous said...

There are 11 floors of stacks in the WHS Library, not 4. Did you miss something?

Online Wisconsin county histories are here:

I can't believe you went to Madison and ate at chain restaurants instead of tasting the State Street cuisine!