Saturday, January 14, 2012

E-Reader Help Session

If you have just received an E-Reader or are considering purchasing one, you may be interested in a help session we have scheduled for this Thursday, January 19th at noon in the library's Activity Room.  We will be discussing the differences between some of the most popular types of E-Readers and how to access library materials with them.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Obituary Index

Quite a few years ago, the library started a project to index all of the obituaries published in the Weirton Daily Times newspapers that we had on microfilm. We decided to work on this project because people were coming into the library to look for obituaries, mostly for genealogical purposes, but they didn't know the date that the notice had appeared in the paper or the date that the person had died.  Locating this information on a roll of microfilm was a very time consuming process and many people were leaving in frustration before they could locate the information they needed. Although some papers now have searchable digitaized versions of the current issues, this was not true when we started this project and  is still not true of many of the back files.

The library staff organized a volunteer project to begin indexing the obituaries in these back issues by having people go through each issue on microfim and write down the name, age, location if listed, and date the obituary appeared. These notes were then typed in to a digital file and transferred to a web page. This has been an ongoing project for well over 10 years now with many volunteers from several different organizations involved. It is a useful tool for our staff to use when helping patrons, and since it is available online, it is also useful to many others. We can tell people are using the index by the hits to those specific web pages.

At this point we have 80 years of the Weirton Daily Times on microfilm and the index is completed for 50 of those years! We are currently working our way up from 1931 through the late 1970s with some volunteers, and a staff member is taking a few minutes every day to keep up with the current newspapers. While transcribing the obituaries for 2011, we discovered that over 2,000 obituaries appeared in the Weirton Daily Times last year!

We often have complete years that have not been posted online, so if you find that you need to locate information for years not posted, call the reference desk. They will gladly check our printed copy to see if the year has been recently completed.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Year Brings New Services

We are very proud to announce four new databases that are now available at the Mary H. Weir Public Library! These databases will be a great resource for those researching history and genealogy.

The first and probably the most familiar is Ancestry.  Ancestry is a huge searchable database of historic public records from all over the world. It includes census and voter lists, birth, marriage and death records, military records, immigration and travel records, newspaper and periodical records, criminal records, church records and many others. It also makes available many useful blank forms to record your information.

Heritage Quest is the second database we have acquired. It searches census records, historical books, PERSI (Periodical Source Index), Revolutionary War Records, the Freedman's Bank, and the U.S. Serials Set. PERSI searches articles from local history and genealogical magazines and newsletters from all over the country. The Freedman's Bank was a Savings and Trust company set up right after the Civil War to serve freed slaves and African American soldiers. Although the bank failed in 1874, the records may provide a great deal of information about the people who were its customers. Details may include parents, children, spouse, birth date, residence, and occupation of the customer. The Serial Set is also known as the United States Congressional Serial Set and contains documents from the House and Senate.

Historic Map Works contains maps from all around the world. There are maps from Europe that are 400 years old. Some of the maps from this part of  the U. S. date from the 19th Century and list land owners and businesses.

The Sanborn Maps focus more on towns. They were insurance maps. We have purchased access to the collection for West Virginia. The maps for Weirton date from 1915, 1919, 1923, and 1929 with updates.  In these maps, all of the buildings in town are shown and often their purpose is given. It also list little details like the size of the water pipes going down the streets and the type of utilities in public buildings. In addition to maps for Weirton, there are maps for Chester, Newell, and New Cumberland in Hancock County and Follansbee and Wellsburg in Brooke County.

All of these databases are available at all Mary H. Weir Library computers.

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