Last Wednesday, following a successful search for a new venue, the Saint John Branch of the New Brunswick Genealogy Society held its first monthly meeting at the library. Members were out in force, intrigued as they were by the new location. Accompanying them were a few new genealogy enthusiasts who caught wind of the society over the summer. In all, 41 were in attendance, a significant increase from the previous meeting’s 23.
Dave Laskey, President of the Saint John Branch, opened up the meeting and encouraged new members to introduce themselves. He thanked the library for offering itself as the new home of the society and introduced the guest speaker for the evening, Keith MacKinnon, who serves as Reference Librarian at the Saint John Free Public Library. MacKinnon then took the society on a grand tour of all that the Central Library has to offer researching genealogists.
The first stops were the Miscellaneous Index, which contains references to a vast number of newspapers and archived books, and the Family History collection, which has books and files covering Saint John- and New Brunswick-area families. He pointed out the library’s genealogy computer, which provides free access to websites like ancestry.ca, and a large Roe & Colby Atlas of Saint John from 1875, a detailed map with the names of various businesses plotted on it.
Next up were the microfiche machines. It’s no secret that that the Central Library has a huge microfilm collection. After all, researchers from the United States and Europe will often come here to use the collection. Baptisms, marriages, births, deaths, city directories, land records, censuses, miscellaneous scrapbooks…you get the picture. In all, the library has seven microfiche readers and two reader-printers. One of the reader-printers is even hooked up to a computer, allowing you to scan the microfilm image straight to your flash drive.
The finale of the tour took the forty of us to the room “where people don’t go,” commonly known as the Special Collections room. In this handsome, Victoria-era room, books, letters, and maps are stored for preservation. Books can be brought out for a few hours for a patron, but the reader must wear white gloves when handling the book to help maintain their condition. The Special Collections room helps ensure that valuable materials, especially those pertaining to New Brunswick, are preserved for future generations.
Following the tour, President Laskey asked those attending what they thought of their new meeting place. Their response? Overwhelming approval! A business meeting was then conducted, offering a glimpse into the workings of the society and the value they offer to their members, including queries where folks can put forth their genealogical dead ends to other members for assistance. At the conclusion of the meeting, members indulged in some sweets with tea and coffee.
It’s never a proper gathering without sweets.
The society’s next meeting will be on October 30th from 7-9 pm. Keith MacKinnon will be back and will share the floor with staff from the New Brunswick Museum. Together, they will demonstrate all of the resources that are available through the museum and library websites. NBGS meetings are held every month and are open to all. Every meeting offers a lecture on a topic relevant to the genealogy community. The society also holds various workshops and publishes a periodical magazine titled “Generations.” For more information on the New Brunswick Genealogy Society, check out their website: http://nbgs.ca/. The site provides forums, indexes, resource links, and much more. For those interested in genealogy, the society is a resource that simply cannot be ignored!