Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Calcasieu Parish Courthouse - Lake Charles, LA

The Calcasieu Parish Courthouse is located in downtown Lake Charles, Louisiana, at
Calcasieu Parish Courthouse - 1000 Ryan Street
1000 Ryan Street.  It’s a beautiful court building, as described to me with a green colored dome.  I got into Lake Charles early, and found some free off street parking at the northeast corner of Pujo and Bilbo Streets (across the street from the Calcasieu Parish Public Library - 411 Pujo Street).

My former life as a Police Detective found me in court buildings all of the time.  I've discovered there is a certain flow to government buildings, and courthouses in particular.  Go against the gain and you will find yourself getting stuck.  Being patient, polite, and professional (dressing the part also helps) will literally open doors.  

As with any other on-site research, I'd done my homework well ahead of time.  Today I was after a civil case from 1932.  Calling ahead of time, and following up by email, I learned that many case files are housed off-site.  If the file I was interested in was off-site, archives staff would need to pull it back before my arrival.  Luckily, mine was kept on-site (microfilm).  Doing my homework ahead of time also gave me the name of a point of contact.  Weeks before my flight from California to Louisiana, I had already spoken with a very helpful (and very knowledgeable) staff person and explained the main reason for my cross county flight was to make a copy of this file.  I was assured the film would be waiting for me on the date we had set.  Again, there is a flow to these things, and lining everything up well ahead of time helps everyone concerned.

Microfilm reader/printer.  Photo taken with permission.
The Archives Office is on the main floor.  Just off of this office is a small hallway leading to archived files and microfilms.  A very old, yet altogether useful, microfilm machine sits just inside this area.  Taking photos of images from the microfilm is not allowed.  Pages are printed (by you) and payment is per the page.  From memory, I think it was a dollar a page - but, I might be off on this point.  Nevertheless, I only paid for what I printed.  And I printed just able the entire file, 100 plus pages.  This file documented a set of circumstances which, interestingly enough, lead to my grandparents (Tassin/Theriot) meeting.  She sued him - it's a long story.  But, the cost of reproduction in this case was not a concern to me.  

When I am working on-site like this I take notes.  The description of the microfilm roll, start and stop image numbers, things of interest for follow-up later.  In all cases these notes go into the file/s for the involved persons.  In some cases, like this one, I also prepare a report.  My notes and any report I write will aid others who may wish to follow my steps later.  They are also tools for me into the future.
Firetrucks!  No fire, everything turned out fine.

Leading up to my visit to Calcasieu Parish, I learned that most of the records from 1910 and before burned in a fire - as did much of Lake Charles.  Ironically, just as I was finishing up with my good-byes to my helpful point of contact, the fire alarm went off.  It was time to leave - and in a hurry.  I stood outside for some time chatting with people and never saw any smoke.

Calcasieu Parish Public Library and Genealogy Room

The public library branch located at 411 Pujo Street in Lake Charles Louisiana was on my list of places to see while I was in this part of the state.  A friend, and fellow genealogist, spoke highly of the staff and the collection.  Before I ever left California, I knew I'd be stopping in.

While research wasn't my goal during my visit, I was able to take some items off of my To Do list.  For anyone conducting genealogical research in southern Louisiana, the Genealogy Room at this library branch is sure to please.  The staff is friendly and even knowledgeable.  If I lived in southern Louisiana, this would be one of my haunts.

Here is an outline of my notes:

Parking (free) across the street to the west of the building.  No problem finding a spot in the morning.

This is a public library.  The Genealogy Room is in the back.

Obituary Card Catalog from early times to 1999.

The Southwest Louisiana Genealogical Society's Book of Charts, five generations, are in bound books.  Beyond that the genealogies extend into nearby cabinets.

The Family History stacks wrap around the walls.  Blue dots on the book's spines represents Bios.

Impressive collection of maps.  Local cemetery maps.  (Good place to start before heading out to a cemetery.)

Map Books: Map Guide by William Thorndale; Louisiana Post Offices by John Gremann; Township Atlas of the United States by Andriot.

Reference guides at desk.

Complete sets of Father Hebert's indexes, the Baton Rouge Catholic Diocese's indexes, the New Orleans Diocese's indexes.

Family Map Books by parish; these are green bound books filed by parish.

Scanner that will email or export to thumb drive.

* Online card catalog.

Wifi as "CPPL".  Power strips on each table.

* I found the card catalog system confusing.  There was a need to log-in and to
keep 'adding time' to use it.  Somehow there is a library card (barcode) that was also required.  I never did fully under understand it, or whether I would be able to use it from home.

My takeaways were:  This library would be very useful to a serious researcher visiting from out of town, as well as to family historians who just needed some help or direction.


Tuesday, October 4, 2016

St. Peters Cemetery - Iberia Parish Louisiana

I'd been to several places already the day of my first visit to the historical cemetery known as St. Peter's Catholic Cemetery in New Iberia Louisiana.  Without a doubt, this stop would be the most exciting.

St. Peter's is a quintessential Louisiana cemetery.  Absolutely fascinating, and I would argue beautiful in its own way.  I was here with a mission in mind...find my missing second-great Grandfather, Hildebert Theriot, and if possible his wife Louise Elmina Delahoussaye.  I'd already done as much as I could from California, including speaking a few times over the phone with the cemetery's pro bono manager.  Everything I had up to this time pointed to Hildebert and Louise at rest here.  If I couldn't find them, I'd have an explanation why.

The cemetery is located at French and Pershing Streets in New Iberia, about one block north of the courthouse.  The cemetery manager and the cemetery's maintenance supervisor knew I'd be in town and kindly met me near the main entrance.  Both men have devoted much of their free time to caring for this historical treasure.  The maintenance lead has generations of his own family at rest here, and his family is also mine!  Yes, he and I are third cousins on my Theriot line.  This second-great Grandfather and my second-great Grandfather (Hildebert Theriot) were brothers.

October afternoons in Southern Louisiana are predictably rainy.  The three of us sat in the cemetery manager's truck as both men explained the history St. Peter's, records that survived and did not, yellow fever, unreported burials and removals, unreadable and unidentified grave markers, and the like.  Their's is a story of doing the best they can with the information available.  Taking notes, and fearing I'd not find Hildebert and Louise on this trip, I took it all in.  Everything pointed to St. Peter's - most significantly records from the Catholic dioceses.

St. Peter's Cemetery is about 200 years old.  Available records establish 11,000 names of persons interned yet of this number about 6,000 can not be placed at a known grave site.  Conversely, there are about 300 unmarked grave sites.

With major walkways crossing from top to bottom, and left to right, the cemetery is generally laid out in a grid.  But be careful, some of the pathways off the major walks don't always line up.  Today all the identified graves are in a database.  Many are already on Find-A-Grave.  More grave sites are identified from time to time because of proactive outreach.

After the rain stopped I found some Theriots, but not Hildebert and Louise.  There is a grouping of Theriots, and among them a few unidentified grave sites.  My suspicion is they are here.  Concrete interments give away the age of a grave site.

While more research is needed, when I got back to California a detailed report documented my "reasonably exhaustive research" to date.  In situations like these, a genealogist can only keep pushing, re-evaluating, and continually searching.

St. Martin Parish Court Records

The St. Martin Parish Court Records building is located at 415 South Main in St. Martinville Louisiana, behind the actual Courthouse.    This is a modern facility - thankfully air conditioned for this California born researcher.  From my understanding this is self serve as to the actual recordings.  I have no problem being corrected on this point, but I didn't have to ask permission.  On this day, I found a very helpful fellow researcher (Wayne) who knows the place inside and out.  He pointed me in the right direction.  I was looking for a marriage record and some succession documents.  For the marriage record, I found the document then asked the staff to make a copy for me - for a fee.  The succession record was a different process, maybe because it was so old.  I had the number and date of filing.  A clerk pulled it from the back (not public) room.  I asked her for copies - again for a fee.

As with most county (oops, Parish) records, the Indexes are in large hardbound books arranged in some logical order.  The Index of Marriages for Grooms and Brides are the same, A to I and J to Z from 1800 to 1987.  A separate index exists for 1987 forward.  Once the marriage is found in the index, we proceed to the Original Marriage documents.  Original!  All very well preserved, covered in plastic, in large volumes.  Copies can be had - again, for a fee from the staff.  I just got a kick out of being able to get my hands on (sort of) the original.

I noted that in the Marriage Books, the column on the left side is for a convenience number, but the number you want is in the right side column.

Building as open WiFi.  There are a few editions of Father Hebert's books, but not a complete collection.  Parking was free, but on the street.  The retired cop in me noticed jail trusties at work around the courthouse; I took my valuables with me.

St. Martin Parish Public Library

The St. Martin Public Library is located at 201 Porter Street, in St. Martinville Louisiana.  This is a very nice little public library located a short distance from town.  There is a separate room just for genealogy related materials.  I had a few items on my Research Log that I found here.  There is a complete set of Father Hebert's Southwest Louisiana Records and each of the Baton Rouge Diocese Indexes.  Primarily this spot is all about Louisiana, and even though it is a smaller collection I was impressed with it as a whole.  I made a note this would be a great place to just use the Hebert and Baton Rouge Indexes.  Another researcher told me about this library and mentioned there was a file cabinet full of drop folders by surnames.  Found it, and reviewed everything concerning my Theriot name.  There is a part-time genealogist who volunteers here, though I missed her on my visit.  Parking was no problem.

The Acadian Memorial

The Acadian Memorial is located at 121 South New Market Street in St. Martinville Lousiana.  On the date of my visit, the memorial was closed for flood damage repair.  No wonder the flood of last August reached the building, the memorial sits on the bank of the Bayou Teche.  I walked around and took a few photos.  With time to spare I almost convinced myself to visit St Martin de Tours Catholic Church - a block away - and ask for some records that have been on my Research Log for far too long.  The Diocese in Lafayette had been promising to post the records online, and I was still waiting.  But in the end I found a little 'hole in the wall' place that makes fantastic fried pork chops and my tummy won out.  

Iberia Parish Courthouse

The Iberia Parish Court Building is located at 300 Iberia Street, in New Iberia Louisiana.  On the day of my visit Succession Records were on my mind.  My second-great Grandfather Hildebert Theriot (sometimes spelled without the silent H, Ildebert) and his wife Louise Elmina Delahoussaye lived and died in Iberia Parish.  Research pointed to Hildebert's succession documents kept in this courthouse.  The Court Records office is on the first floor.  Once inside this office, there is a public counter with some very helpful staff.  They told me to just help myself to the Index Books, a right turn and immediately adjacent to the public counter.  I was told taking pictures of the actual recordings is discouraged and there is a fee for copies.  Normal rules.  Naturally there are no birth or death records, but plenty of conveyance and successions.  Conveyances are numbered in order and the actual documents are kept by book within a given number range.  These are neatly shelved, some to the ceiling.  Once the record's number is found, find the corresponding book and flip some pages.  Copies are made by the staff at the public counter - $1 each; printed out to legal sided paper.  Seems there was a little dispute between the children in Hildebert's succession, great for genealogical perspective, but at a dollar a page cut into my research budget.

Whenever I'm in a court records repository, I like to check for other family known to have been in the same geographic area.  I'll also run the pages looking for names that jump out at me.  This time it paid off.  Hildebert's mother Marie Rosalie Romero had a much earlier succession.  

Parking next to the court building, west side.  Look north from the parking lot and you'll see St. Peter's Cemetery.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Saint Joseph's Catholic Cemetery

Saint Joseph's Catholic Cemetery is located in Baton Rouge on North 15th Street, between 'North' Street and Main Street.  There are two entrances, one on the north side of the cemetery, and the second on the southern edge.  This is a historic cemetery, and I was impressed with the overall disrepair and lack of upkeep.  There are newer grave sites here, with dates of death only 50 years ago or so, but still there doesn't appear to be ongoing maintenance.  Several headstones are made of concrete; many without visible or readable markings.  I found my Theriot family there in the southeast corner.  This section appeared to me to have the older resting places.

Street parking only, and not much of it.  No one on site.  If I had to find someone here, I'd first research all the known indexes to narrow the search.

The East Baton Rouge Public Library

The East Baton Rouge Public Library is located at 7711 Goodwood Blvd., in East Baton Rouge Louisiana 70806.  I did not have time to do research here, but did want to review this place before moving on.  The genealogy materials are had in the "Special Collections" room located on the second floor.  This is open to the public and there is lots of room to spread out.  I counted ten microfilm readers.  There are maps, and books arranged by state. Louisiana, not surprisingly, had the largest representation with five rows of stacks.  Parishes are arranged by call number.  I only found two books for Iberia Parish - of interest to me on this trip - but otherwise the collection was impressive.

Free ample parking.  Close to eats and everything else you'd need.

Louisiana State Archives – Baton Rouge, Louisiana

The Louisiana State Archives is located at 3851 Essen Lane – cross street Archives Ave. – in the state capitol of Baton Rouge.  This is a large building, at the southeast corner of the intersection, with flags in front.  The public access area is on the first floor, left from the main entrance. Free parking on side of the building.

Here are some notes I made about this repository during my October of 2016 visit:

No open Wi-Fi.

John B, a librarian at the archives, was very knowledgeable and gave a tour.  All staff friendly. The public area, called the Research Room, has books; serves as a point of access for the Archives' microfilm collections; a computer index and an Archives Index (not open on the Internet).  They have a good sized Civil War book collection and to a lesser degree, volumes on African American research generally.  I saw some books on Irish research.

There is a card catalog they call the Family Card Catalog.  These cards, created about 30 years ago,
service as a surname index for the books on the wall next to the file.  There is a list of each book that was indexed on top of the card catalog.

They have copies of all the major genealogical and history journals. 

Next in the collection are books arranged by Parish.  Parish histories and related. 

Complete collections of: 1) Father Hebert’s indexes, 2) Baton Rouge Diocese indexes, 3) Archives of the New Orleans Diocese, and 4) Orleans Parish Birth indices (1790-1915).

The Archives has both the Edwin A. Davis and Powel A Casey Collections.

The Booth Index: a hand written index of Confederate soldiers originally made for Washington D.C. post war, and later obtained by the state in 1930.  Prior to this the state didn’t have this information.

Confederate Soldiers/Military Binders.

Microfilm readers; only one with digital write path.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

FamilySearch Family History Center (FHC) Las Vegas, Nevada

There are Family History Centers (FHC) all over the world, and certainly enough in the United States to have one within reach.  Among FHCs, there are larger Regional FHCs found in major metropolitan areas (think Los Angeles for example).  
Las Vegas is one such Regional FHC.  It is located at 509 South 9th Street, on the north side of Las Vegas, 89101.  This Center is open every day except Sunday.  Check their website for hours.

Today I had the pleasure of doing some research at FamilySearch’s Las Vegas facility.  The doors opened at 9 a.m., and I was the first patron in.  Visitors are called Patrons.   Everyone is welcome at FHCs, no need to be a member of the Church of Later Day Saints (LDS).  There is no fee for use of the libraries or the resources (Computers primarily, but film readers et cetera) although printing to paper might cost you a dime or so per page.

As far as I know, all the staff at FHCs are volunteers.  They may or may not be serving a mission, or assigned Family History as a ‘calling’, but they are not paid employees.  In all the years that I have been frequenting these libraries, I’ve never met anyone volunteering who was not absolutely pleasant to engage with.  Generally LDS members will have the typical black and white name tags; although non LDS members can volunteer also (I’m a case in point).  Genealogical skill levels are going to vary drastically among the dear people who staff these centers.

Specifically with regard to Las Vegas, one will find the library a modern facility.  It was recently remodeled with all new technology; I’m guessing 40 or more computer stations.  The LAN speed was great and WiFi was just as fast.  Thankfully, there are about four microfilm readers remaining and they even have some real books left.  Most patrons gravitate toward the computers at FHCs, but the well advised genealogist’s mouth waters at the sight of real books. 

Beyond the active research tools, Las Vegas also has at least two training rooms, one with projection capabilities.  One room is immediately adjacent to the library, and the other upstairs.  From their website there seems to be a good amount of class offerings.  While I was there, an announcement was made that a class on using Ancestry dot com would be held in the next room.  I passed, but was still able to overhear (all too clearly) everything that was being taught. 

Parking is adequate.  A large church lot is next to the building.  Also next door (across the street) is a very large high school.  An army of school buses ascend on the neighborhood when school lets out in the afternoon.  Expect grid lock for 30 minutes or so. 
I didn’t notice much in the way of lunch opportunities in the general vicinity; although I really did not look hard.  I would pack a lunch if I were planning a full day of research. 

Whenever I go to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, or a FHC, I have a very precise plan for what I want to accomplish.  On this visit, it was to work through a small stack of FamilySearch catalog items that are now digital, but only accessible from within the FamilySearch portal (that is, at the main library in Salt Lake City, or any FHC). I have a flash drive just for the purpose of onsite research in my dedicated Genealogy backpack.  Knowing what I was looking for made accessing it easy, and downloading same was painless. 

Much less painless was enduring the Ancestry class next door.  I was halfway listening while doing my look-ups.  I couldn’t believe my ears (perhaps because I’d never been introduced to this approach before).  The female presenter was going on about the differences between an Institutional (Library) version of Ancestry and an individual membership.  She was pointing out the lack of a user’s own Tree and how things operate differently on the Library subscription.  Then the shocking part, going into detail, she advocated copying genealogical information out of another person’s online Tree, to your own tree, with confidence placed on the stated expertise of the public Tree owner!  What???!!!  “Oh, this person has been doing family history since 1995, and was last logged on to Ancestry yesterday…that tells me something…I’d trust this Tree.”  That’s just flat crazy.  And for that to be taught in a Regional FHC, is really astonishing.  Or, maybe someone left that chapter out of my copy of the Genealogical Proof Standard.

All and all, I would certainly encourage anyone to visit a Regional FHC as you can, even if you frequent a smaller center.  Typically, they will have more hours, open more days, and have more staff on hand.  Generally speaking there are more microfilms onsite also; check online or call ahead to see if there is anything of interest to you. 

Okay, so there is a quick overview of the Las Vegas Regional Family History Center.  

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Finding Fort Halleck, Nevada

Fort Halleck was established on July 26th, 1867 to protect both the California Emigrant Trail as well as the construction of the nearby Central Pacific Railroad.  The location was named for Major General Henry W. Halleck who was the commander of the military in the region at the time.  Using both the title of Camp Halleck and Fort Halleck over the years, Fork Halleck was also tasked with supporting issues concerning local Indian matters.  The Fort closed its doors in December of 1886.

Present day Fort Halleck site. Photo by Author.
Today, little remains of the Fort.  Unlike some other Army installations, Fort Halleck was not kept for its historical value or used in some other fashion.  A major force behind this was its location, remote from the railroad it was to protect.  Even now there isn’t much around the sight of the old fort.

My interest in Fort Halleck sprang from research I am conducting into the life of an ancestor who served a potion of his Army life there. 

The first step in my research was to identify when my ancestor was assigned to the post.  Using the Returns from Military Bases database on Ancestry dot com, I established he arrived there on April 24th, 1869.  His regiment was there also.  From these same records I learned he commanded the fort for a few weeks each in June and October/November of 1870.  He left Fort Halleck in December of 1870.

Other genealogical information suggests one of his children was born in Nevada, and inasmuch as Fort Halleck was the only Nevada post my ancestor was assigned - juxtaposed to the his son's birth date - makes this local significant.  

The next step in finding Fort Halleck, was an open source research review.  What already existed concerning the history of the post?  Here Google is your friend, but not your only one.  I established a computer based file for this task and started collecting interesting information.  For the most part I was concerned with historical demographic data.  I found enough to complete the task, but was also surprised at how relatively little information there was.  This told me much of the memory of the fort has long ago passed.  Beyond the history, I also found some interesting - all be it less useful - social data.  Apparently the fort was an economic driver in the area and this pushed for the post remaining longer than it likely should have.  In fact, Army personnel stationed at Fort Halleck often questioned the need for this remote post.  It nevertheless remained into the mid-1880s.

Wishing to visit the present day site of Fort Halleck, I was pleased to find a few pieces of very useful information.  Two such items were: 1) a website named Howard Hickson’s Histories containing an article named Men in Blue, Fort Halleck Nevada (1867-1886), and 2) the Nevada Historical Society Quarterly, volume 7, numbers 3-4 (1976-1977).  From these two references, I was able to locate and identify the fort and its placement of buildings.  The National Archives offered a few period photographs (showing the mountain terrain in the background), and I had Google Maps for a satellite view.
Camp Halleck in 1871.  National Archives photo by Timothy O'Sullivan

I learned that soon after the fort was decommissioned, the buildings, made primarily from cottonwood trees and adobe, were salvaged by local - friendly - Indians.  Nothing remains, save some of the larger trees.  From my two primary sources, I discovered the site was about 12 miles south of a railroad station.  This portion of Nevada is in Elko County and the area surrounding the old post is today called Halleck.  The fort itself was situated on the banks of what was then named Cottonwood Creek (today named Soldier Creek).  A plot map appearing in the Nevada Historical Society Quarterly (p30) showed the point at which the fort was next to the creek.  It also showed roads leading to and past the fort.  

The next step was to compare, or basically overlay, a map appearing in Howard Hickson's Histories with a Google satellite view of the area from the present day.  I was looking for Soldier Creek and roads that would match up with what appeared on the old map.  I knew everything was south of the existing railroad tracks, and freeway. 

Howard Hickson's Histories, Men in Blue September 2002
The site and area jumped off of the screen.  Everything lined up.  I had read of the distance from the main road leading from the fort to the railroad station, a 12 miles distance, and surmised it was the line that followed the creek between both points.  Using Google Map’s point to point measuring tool, I confirmed the route was indeed 12 miles.  Today this is McIntyre Road, which looks to travel through present day private ranch properties. 

The next step was to take closer look at where McIntyre Road reaches the creek, 12 miles south.  Using Google’s satellite view I found existing modern buildings; private properties that appeared to be ranches.  Inspecting the view more, to the west of the creek I found it!  Square and rectangle shapes in the earth, visible from a satellite’s eye and probably less so to a viewer on the surface.

Google satellite image 
The shapes and their placements, relative to the creek and even some existing trees matched perfectly – like a latent fingerprint to the real thing – this was all that was left of a piece of an ancestor’s history. 

From the information found on Howard Hickson’s Histories website, I was able to give names to the shapes.  The large open area partially outlined with trees was the Parade Ground.  Between the creek and the Parade Ground, the Company Quarters and Mess.  North of the Parade Ground, two sets of stables.  Also falling into place were the Magazine and the Quartermaster’s building. 

There were two hospitals at Fort Halleck, the old one and the new one.  The outline of one or the other is east of the Parade Grounds.  Perhaps this is all that remains of the place my ancestor’s second son was born.

During July of this year I went to the site of the former Fort Halleck.  The route I used was different than the old road used when the fort was in use.  From eastbound U.S. 80, I took the Halleck exit where state Highway 229 intersects with the freeway.  A Nevada historical marker for Fort Halleck can be found at this intersection; of course it is no where near the actual former post grounds. 
My route took me about 17 miles into some very pretty country deep inside Elko County.  Taking Highway 229 south, I found a hard pack dirt road leading southwest toward Lamoille Nevada.  After about six miles of dirt road, I came across Soldier Creek.  Just south of me lay the Parade Grounds and the large cottonwood trees I’d seen online.  There was no way to discern the shapes I had seen using the satellite view. 

Monument by Daughters of the Utah Pioneers
Photo by Author
In 1939 the Daughters of Utah Pioneers erected a monument marking the existence of the former Army post.  I found it, on the south side of the dirt road, east of the creek. Today the Fort’s former site is a private ranch property.  No trespassing signs are posted.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

University of California Berkeley, onsite Research

University libraries are just as valuable as Genealogical libraries in my opinion.  Depending on the research task, perhaps even more so.  As with anything else in genealogical work, research at a university requires pre-planning.   Anytime I'm traveling to an onsite facility for research purposes, I've already spent at least a few hours online determining what I want to look out, how to get there, where to park, what to eat.  I even plot out nearby Starbucks locations.  All of this is done well in advance.  Onsite research is always going to have an expense attached to it.  Just fuel, parking, and lunch can add up.  So when I go, I have a very direct plan on what I am hoping a accomplish.  I never come back empty handed.  Ask yourself what you are hoping to accomplish.  If the answer is fuzzy or uncertain, your outing is called a Field Trip, not a Research Trip.  Field Trips have their place, but Research Trips pay-off.

For example, a recent visit to the University of California (UC) at Berkeley.  UC Berkeley is a major research facility.  If it isn't the largest university library in California, it has to be close.  During my standard genealogical research, I am constantly identifying off-line documents I want to view.  I search these in World Cat (, and very frequently UC Berkeley pops up as the closest repository with the item I'm looking for.   Generally, I wait until I have a day's worth of research stacked up on my Research List before jumping in the car.

Parking: On this visit, I identified parking more convenient then I had used in previous outings.
 According to the university's parking related website ( the Lower Hearst Lot has all day paid visitor parking.  Confirmed.  Although, one needs to access the this parking structure on the second level, from the
side street - Scenic Ave.  This requires some negotiation in the neighborhood; a few turns to get there.  Once on the second level, look for the gold color signs identifying the visitor parking.  All day, $20.  Automated pay stations on the same level.

With the car tucked in for the day, the libraries were just a short walk into the center of the campus.  UC Berkeley, like most major universities, has several named libraries.  For our purposes at this campus, the libraries we need are contiguous.  With the campus map
( you have already printed out at home, point toward the Bancroft Library.

The visiting genealogist will be interested to two areas of this library facility; the Newspapers and Microform Room and the Gardner Stacks.

Newspapers and Microform Room:  This a gold field, full of gold mines!  I'm a huge fan of Newspaper Research.  I am often frustrated with what isn't on any of the numerous online newspaper resources.  Located downstairs, the Newspapers and Microform Room is mainly 35mm mircofilm of old newspapers.
Sorting is geographical, not unlike a genealogy collection, Country, then local jurisdiction, then newspaper.  I was interested in all newspapers from Ukiah California (Mendocino County) for a certain date in March of 1874.  So my sort was United States, California, Mendocino County.  Then I had several papers to choose from.  There are international holdings also.  Check the university's online catalog and pay particular attention to the actual holdings for the paper(s) you want.  Missing papers are common place in newspaper research.  In fact it is the norm.

For my purposes, I wanted to see all newspapers for Ukiah on or shortly after 15 March 1874.
 Through my online research, I was able to pin down this date for a newsworthy event that took place on Main Street that Sunday afternoon.  I wanted to see what the papers said about it.  With the date, I went to the Library of Congress' Chronicling America website ( to find out what papers existed in Ukiah in March of 1874.  Two were found, the Independent Weekly Dispatch and the Mendocino Democrat.  Next, I went to World Cat and discovered UC Berkeley had both.  From World Cat, I examined the university's online catalog and confirmed that, not only did they have both papers, they had them for March of 1874.  None of my online newspapers sites had anything for both this location and time frame.

At the university, I pulled both microfilm reels.  The event took place on Sunday, 15 March 1874.  Both papers were weeklys, published on Saturdays.  This meant the event was going to be six days old when the papers came out.  I kept my fingers crossed.

The Newspapers and Microform Room has several computer viewers to read
microfilm.  These use the same software found in any Family History Center; Power Scan 2000.  If you've used a viewer in a FHC, this will be easy for you.  The college students who work in the room are very helpful also.  Images are saved off to the thumb drive you bring with you (never research without a few in your bag).  PDF format.

I found what I was looking for!  Twice, once in both papers.  The information not only confirmed the story, it also gave me the names of those persons involved.  My next step will be a visit to the Historical Society in Ukiah, in search for photos.

Gardner Stacks:  This is the main collection of books in library.  Follow the signs under the same roof
as the Newspapers and Microform Room.  Gardner is a multi-floor library.  Check in at the front desk is required.  I had to show my driver license [its a Driver License, not a Driver's License, believe me...I've seen many in my law enforcement career] and they logged me in by name.  No library card is need to access and view books in the stacks.  Ask for a map from the front desk staff that will show you where things are by call number.  On my most recent visit, I saw a genealogical book the Family History Library didn't have.  World Cat showed it at UC Berkeley and BYU Provo.

Eats:  There is a small cafe in the Moffitt Library building next to the main
library building.  Never been there.  I take a short walk off campus to Center Street.  Several sit down as well as To Go lunch choices there.          

The Northern Regional Library Facility (NRLF) at UC Berkeley

Somewhat by accident I found this fantastic resource.  I was doing some research on a Civil War project I've been working on, and checking references on the University of California (UC) Berkeley's online library catalog (  I found what I was looking for, by name and author in the university's library, but the volume I wanted was listed as off-site at the "NRLF."  Interestingly enough, volumes on either side of what I needed where at the library, but what I was looking for wasn' was listed as at the NRLF, or what I later learned was the university's Northern Regional Library Facility in Richmond California, just about 10 miles north of the main campus.  I did some online digging around and found the web presence for the NRLF (  From what I read, I would be able to view the item, in this case a journal, at the NRLF.  I called to conform.  Yes, just walk in, fill out a slip and they will pull what I needed.  I put everything into my Research Log and got ready.  I would pair my visit with other research I already had planned at the main university library.

The NRLF is a little off the beaten path.  It is located in a commercial section of Richmond, near the
Berkeley Marina.  San Francisco is clearly seen across the bay.  Their website has very good directions, although there is no given address that could be used for GPS navigation.  Generally, they are at Meade Street and South 47th Street in Richmond, 94804.  Meade is off of Bayview Ave., on the bay side of the 508 Freeway.  I highly suggest going there on Google Maps and street view first.  I did, and still drove past it!  Look for the big blue sign that says Berkeley Global Campus.

Once inside, I found a very helpful college student working behind the reception counter.  She took the information on the journal and within a few minutes I had the bound book.  There is a very nice Reading Room at the facility.  They also have computers, a copy machine, and even a microfilm viewer.  Restrooms down the hall.

I had the place to myself.  I got the impression most students from the main campus don't visit there much.  University students and researchers connected to the school can request a PDF of whatever they want emailed to them.  For the solo, and otherwise unattached genealogist this wasn't an option.   Likewise, unless you have a university library card, nothing is leaving the building.  Onsite research only.

I took the requisite photos of what I found and was done.  Well worth the visit.