Monday, January 9, 2012

American Canadian Genealogical Society ~…and why you shouldn’t jump to conclusions…


This is the tale of another "new to me" library...
American Canadian Genealogical Society
Manchester, New Hampshire

I've lived in Londonderry, New Hampshire for 28 years.  My town borders Manchester, New Hampshire, which is a much larger city.  For years I have known about the American Canadian Genealogical Society on Elm Street.  Out of curiosity, I often ask about the library, but I’ve always been told that it was for “French Canadians”.  So I never visited.  Not even once. 

And so for all this time I travel all the way to Boston to use the library at the New England Historic Genealogical Society, and pay $30 to park downtown.  Or I travel up to Concord, New Hampshire (not too far, maybe 20 minutes further than Manchester) to use the New Hampshire Historical Society Library or the New Hampshire State Library.  All are good genealogical libraries, with differing collections and specializations. 

Finally, I saw genealogy blogger, Lucie Consentino, post on Facebook that she was going to visit the ACGS library, and she asked “Anyone else I know going?”  I wrote back that I’d like to join her.  Lucie is the author of three blogs, all specializing in Acadian genealogy.  Then, genealogy blogger Cynthia Shenette asked to join us, and I was beginning to think about passing on the visit because Cynthia also has French Canadian ancestry.  Was this going to be a bust?  Well, maybe I’d join them for an hour just to see the library.  After all, it was only $5 for a day pass.

Well, to make a long story short, I went to ACGS to research a Mayflower line.  And I was there from before 10 AM until 4PM, and I have to go back because I have a list of books I haven’t finished looking at , and another shelf full of stuff  (I saw on the way out the door) to peruse.  I was amazed at what I found, and humbly admit that from now I will not pre-judge any repository of genealogical information.  Nor any website.  You never know what you will find. 

As well as being a well stocked library (you can see their card catalog online), it is also a society which means that as well as Lucie, I now know half a dozen members and they have all given me good information, hints, clues and ideas for my family research.  Eight of us went to lunch together, which mean more schmoozing, genealogy chat and laughter.  We had a good time, and that is worth its weight in gold.

By the way, both Cynthia and I joined ACGS as members.  It is a small fee, as far as genealogy societies charge, and I have well made up for it without paying downtown Boston parking fees.  Parking at ACGS is FREE!

Cynthia stated on Facebook “had a great day at the American-Canadian Genealogical Society in Manchester, NH with Lucie LeBlanc Consentino and Heather Wilkinson Rojo.  I found records for my grandfather and my great grandfather, as well as my great grandfather's four wives and for some of his 25 children!  Sixty four records in all!  Wow!" 

My new Facebook friend, lunch companion and ACGS president of ACGS, Gerry Savard stated “I enjoyed meeting everyone.  I’m glad it was a productive day.  Societies offer one on one guidance that is hard to get hanging over a keyboard.  Also, since we encourage conversation in the library, many connections have been made by individuals hearing someone talking about a common ancestor.  It’s a great place for sharing, socializing and researching.”

Comparison chart:
Library                                                 Day Fee            Membership/ 1 year
New England Hist. Gen                        $15                                         $79.95
American Canadian Gen. Soc               $5                                           $35
NH Historical Society                           $7                                           $40
NH State Library                                  FREE                                      FREE
Portsmouth Athenaeum                         FREE                                      $225
UNH Dimond Library- Special Collections    FREE                             FREE
Manchester Historic Association          $8                                            $30
Center for Lowell History- ULowell     FREE                                      FREE
Don’t forget your own local library! (and don't forget that each archive/library/society has its own special collections, its own strengths on the shelves and on line) 

For more information:

American Canadian Genealogical Society
4 Elm Street, Manchester, New Hampshire  (603) 622-1554

map of Manchester with a star on ACGS
from Mapquest.com

Lucie LeBlanc Consentino’s websites:
Lucie’s Legacy   http://lucieslegacy.blogspot.com/
Whispers Through the Willows http://whispersthroughthewillows.blogspot.com/ 
Acadian & French-Canadian Genealogy and History Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/224797574204625/

Cynthia Shenette’s blog:

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Copyright 2012, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

4 comments:

  1. What a great post Heather...proof indeed of how you were impressed not only with materials to be found at ACGS but especially with the volunteer staff and members who are always willing to help whether or not they are on duty that day/time.

    We must set a date to go again.

    Lucie

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  2. Oh my goodness, I wish I lived closer (I'm all the way over to the West Coast/BC) - and yes, I get the message to not have judgments about what is likely to be in any particular repository! A great learning, second-hand!

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  3. Heather - It was a great time, and I agree with Lucie that we need to set a date to go again. Now that I'm a member I'd like to try to go at least once a month. The staff was so helpful and the collection extensive. I was impressed!

    BTW, I was able to verify that two of the records I already had and thought were for the same person, actually were for the same person. The first name was misspelled which is what I've long suspected. So for the record, my great-grandfather ONLY had 24 for children, not 25!

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  4. I happened to be on ACGS Facebook page and decided to check out your blog. Amen to this! Because they know I'm a LaFleur, the researchers may mention that they have a LaFleur case and last week Muriel showed me something for a Joachim LaFleur. I have a Joachim where all I have is his birth, while I have most everything on his siblings. If this is him, he's out in Montana, I think, with a Metis family. The birthdate is accurate within 2 years and Joachim is not a common Franco name, so I hope it pans out to be my guy. But if I had not been physically in the library with people who know my names, I would have NEVER thought to look for this guy in Montana (or somewhere that far west) in 1828. Thanks for making many good points!!!

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