How Well Do You Know the Johnson County Genealogy Department?
from Lora Fitzgerald
You may be missing out on some terrific genealogy resources and services right in your own back yard, so to speak, so listen up! For many years, the Johnson County Library (JCL) and the Johnson County Genealogical Society (JCGS) have had a close, supportive relationship. The library maintains a mid-size genealogy collection, including items owned by the library as well as items owned by JCGS, all housed side-by-side on library shelving in the west-central area of the Central Resource Library (CRL).
The focus of the collection is on Kansas and Missouri, plus on areas from which our ancestors came into Kansas and Missouri. Those include: the New England states, the Mid-Atlantic states, the Ohio Valley, the southeastern states, and the Midwest. Such items may include family histories (donated), passenger lists (Germans to America, Italians to America, etc.), county histories, indexes to vital records, some DAR materials, etc.. Items are generally arranged by state, and may include various county resources that may have been purchased or donated. Donations from individuals have certainly added some valuable resources to the department.
In addition, there are popular genealogy magazines including:
- Family Chronicle
- Internet Genealogy
- Family Tree Magazine
- Journals and quarterlies from various genealogy societies and associations around the country.
The library provides all card-holding members with access to some of our favorite databases:
- Ancestry Library Edition (for use in all Johnson County Libraries)
- Heritage Quest
- America’s Obituaries and Death Notices (including remote access with library card and PIN)
- American Ancestors, from the New England Historic Genealogical Society, (accessible only at the CRL)
- Genealogy Connect
In addition, the library genealogy web page at jocolibrary.org/genealogy features links to local and national sites of interest to genealogists, with no requirement of a library card.
The Genealogy Department desk at CRL is staffed by local volunteer genealogists, most of whom are members of the JCGS. Hours of desk coverage are:
- Monday through Friday, 9-5
- Tuesday evening 6:30-8:00 p.m.
- Saturday, 9-1, except for the fourth Saturday
JCGS meets in the Carmack Room of the CRL on the fourth Saturday of each month, except October and December, 10 to noon. Each meeting features a speaker and topic of interest to genealogists; e.g. Irish Research, Passenger lists and Immigration, The German Heritage of Kansas. Meetings are open to the public, and provide opportunities not only to learn but also to meet and talk with other genealogists.
Volunteers at the genealogy desk can discuss your genealogy research with you, and sometimes suggest other research possibilities. They can help locate possible useful library materials, or perhaps materials to request through Interlibrary Loan, and they may be able to help with use of the genealogy web page and databases. You will also find various handouts in the department that may be helpful to you. The volunteers also respond to email, phone, and mail requests for local obituaries. The library holds Johnson County newspapers and the Kansas City Star and Times from the 1880s through current issues on microfilm.
The Genealogy Department is most definitely not just for genealogists doing Johnson County research. However, if you do have Johnson County ancestors, you will want to take advantage of some resources specific to this county. Consider these:
- Johnson County Obituary database
- JCGS publications on early marriages and wills
- JCGS indexes to the Kansas State Census 1855-1925
- Johnson County Cemetery Index online, which includes photographs of the tombstones along with cemetery information. Johnson County burials are fully indexed into the current year.
Obviously, our genealogical activities — learning, researching, meeting—are closely associated with the Johnson County Library. We are proud to partner with the library in serving the needs of genealogists every day.
JCGS invites and encourages all who are interested in genealogy to join us at meetings, to use materials and computers in the Genealogy Department, and to take advantage of the assistance of eager volunteers in order to make progress toward the thrilling discoveries of our ancestors’ lives and stories.