Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Making the Most of Local Genealogical Research Facilities

In 2004 I became an official member of the Genealogical Forum of Oregon. Years before I visited on a free day when my family was young, money was tight, and my research was sporadic. Memberships in most local genealogical facilities are usually very reasonable. At GFO it is $40 a year with paper copies of the publications sent by mail. A day pass is $7 and the first Monday of every month is free. For me the membership is a means of showing my support for the organization and to help preserve the collections.

The GFO moved to a new facility about a year ago and they are still settling in. It was only a four-block move, but resulted in updated facilities and furnishings. The move was the result of construction of a new light rail line that will pass near the new site and took out the old site. For views of the new site, maps and pictures of the interior visit their facebook page at Their webpage is at:

When first entering a genealogical research facility, it is important to have a tour and assess what is within their collection. GFO is a rare society that manages a genealogy library with over 30,000 titles. They have Oregon, regional, national, and worldwide resources. Founded in 1946, the organization has accumulated a vast assortment of books, maps, microfilms and fiche, CDs and other recorded media, family history researchers collections, etc.

For this visit my focus was on the microfilm collection. Previously I created a list of materials related Oregon Marriages and Divorces. This time I decided to make a listing of all the Oregon related microfilms and fiche according to the drawers that they are filed in. There are fifteen drawers of microfilms and eight of fiche, but some of the fiche are in hiding, as they could not be located. The complete lists of these findings will be posted separately.

The GFO is fortunate to have a wonderful group of volunteers. Besides the officers, board members, librarians and research assistants, there is work in recording, compiling, publishing, preserving and sharing genealogical and historical records and information. Some jobs can be done in the comfort of your home and assignments can be tailored to suit your schedule. Every hour you volunteer is like a donation of $17.55 to the GFO. For more information see:

There are so many benefits to joining and being part of a local society. To truly make the most of the holdings and materials within the facility one must be aware of them. Doing a walk through and creating a list of what is available is essential. Sharing those lists will assist others as they ponder where they should research their family history. My heart felt gratitude is extended to volunteers throughout the world and especially at the GFO for their contributions in maintaining such wonderful resources.

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