Continuing in the series to highlight hidden genealogy treasures.
Monroe County Genealogical Society
203 Benton Avenue East
Albia, Iowa 52531
I am continually amazed, and very pleased, with the number of public libraries that devote significant space to the genealogy collection of the local genealogical society. The Albia Public Library is stuffed to the gills with books and periodicals on the main floor, barely an inch to spare on most shelves and stacks of paperback books at the ends of shelving. But the Monroe County Genealogical Society is privileged to have a large room on the lower level with ample space for its valuable collection, work space and meeting space. As with many groups with tight budgets, this society functions quite well with furniture and shelving salvaged from other places. They have a good photocopier, but sometimes struggle with keeping their microfilm readers operational.
Rosalie Mullinix met me at the library. I met her initially at an Iowa Genealogical Society event, then mentioned her in a blog post several months ago after visiting the Monroe County Historical Society. She is an energetic woman who knows many of the society’s resources inside and out. I brought along a little research that I could do while visiting on this day and was amazed how quickly she found a newspaper article buried in a set of notebooks. These binders hold clippings from a local newspaper column called “Looking Back.” She says the articles include considerable information for researchers and the society members are currently working on an index for the collection. This newspaper column originated as “Touches of the Past” and its creator got paid for it by the newspaper. When she was no longer able to continue, the local society took it over as a fundraising project. Most of the columns exhibit extensive research. In all, the series ran for nearly twenty years.
Over the years, dedicated volunteers have worked diligently to gather the records and stories. I estimated the collection included approximately 15 linear feet of family histories. These are mostly lined up across the top row of shelving, with many other records filling the lower shelves. Across the room are many card catalog drawers filled with obituary cards: thousands of them. The collection also includes the county vital records, genealogy resource books, military information, naturalizations, records for surrounding counties, and newspaper microfilm. The collection is strong and thorough.
The Monroe County Historical Society is across the street. The two groups work well together and their collections are complementary.
I was surprised when Rosalie said that the number of queries the society receives has increased considerably. She said that at one time she might get five queries in a year; now she may get five queries with each trip to the mail box. She added that most researchers are looking for pre-1900 information.
Rosalie explained that recently the society president has created a Facebook page for the society. Otherwise, neither the historical society nor the genealogy has a significant internet presence. But she said, some individuals have created websites that include area towns, such as Georgetown, Hiteman, Melrose, Georgetown and Weller.
To round out my visit, I was pleased to find the family I was researching on a page in one of the family histories on the shelves. I gleaned a few tidbits of new information! I like that!