Podcast Episode 3: State Library of Pennsylvania
The State Library of PA in Harrisburg is an under-used resource for genealogy research in Pennsylvania. Learn more in this podcast interview with Kathy Hale, Supervisor of Public Services, State Library of Pennsylvania’s.
If you're researching your Pennsylvania ancestors, you won't want to miss this episode of the Your Pennsylvania Ancestors podcast. Host Denys Allen sits down with Kathy Hale, Supervisor of Public Services for the State Library of Pennsylvania, to discuss the library's extensive genealogical holdings and how to make the most of your visit.
Kathy affectionately refers to the State Library as "The Packrat's Paradise," and it's easy to see why. The library has an impressive collection of resources for genealogists, including books, microfilm, and digital records. In fact, the library's Power Library hosts an extensive collection of digitized materials that are available to anyone with a library card.
During the episode, Kathy shares what kinds of records you can expect to find at the State Library, as well as tips for making the most of your visit. She also discusses the library's recent renovation and temporary location, and how to request materials that may not be available on site.
One of the most exciting things about the State Library's holdings is that many of them can be sent through inter-library loan around the country, and some around the state of Pennsylvania. This means that even if you're not able to visit the library in person, you may still be able to access the records you need.
If you're planning a research trip to the State Library of Pennsylvania, or if you're just interested in learning more about the library's genealogical resources, this episode is a must-listen. So grab a cup of coffee and settle in for an informative conversation with one of the state's top genealogy experts.
In this episode of the Your Pennsylvania Ancestors podcast, Denys Allen has a conversation with State Library of Pennsylvania’s, Kathy Hale, Supervisor of Public Services. Kathy fondly calls the State Library “The Packrat’s Paradise” and when you listen, you’ll find out why. The State Library is an underused resource for genealogists and the Power Library hosts extensive digital records.
Listen to the Audio Podcast
- State Library of Pennsylvania main website: https://www.statelibrary.pa.gov
- State Library of Pennsylvania catalog – Make an online account to save items found in a list
- Research Guides for Pennsylvania
- PA Power Library – digitized records of genealogical or historical interest
- Information on the State Library renovation, temporary location, and how to request materials, including from the Rare Book Collection (click the + signs to expand for more information)
- State Library of Pennsylvania Reference Telephone (717) 783-5950 and online Reference Form
- Necrology Collection – Civil War veteran obituaries clipped and saved in scrapbooks by librarians in the late 1800’s
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Learn all about the history and details of the Your Pennsylvania Ancestors podcast.
[00:00:00] Denys Allen: welcome to the, your Pennsylvania ancestors podcast.
[00:00:15] this is Denise Allen, and I'll be your host today. As we talk with Kathy Hale of the state library of Pennsylvania.
[00:00:27] Denys Allen: if you're a genealogist who has ancestors in Pennsylvania, you don't want to miss the holdings that the state library has. Kathy fondly calls the library, the pack rats paradise. And you'll find out why, when you listen to this episode, some of the holdings that the state library of Pennsylvania has, can be sent to you through your public library, no matter where you are in the country, find out how to have that happen for you.
[00:00:53] Also learn about the renovation of the library, its temporary location and how to make the most of that research trip. When you do go to the library. I'd love to hear your comments and questions. And that question just could be on a future episode. Just go to www.pa ancestors.com and click leave a question.
[00:01:19] And now here's Kathy.
[00:01:26] Good morning, Kathy. Um, thank you for joining me from the state library of Pennsylvania. Could you, um, I'd love for you to introduce yourself, tell people, listening, who you are, your experience with the library and what your role is there.
[00:01:42] Kathy Hale: My name is Kathy Hale. I am the supervisor for public services at the state library of Pennsylvania.
[00:01:52] The state library is under the auspices of the Pennsylvania department of education. There is a, deputation called the office of Commonwealth libraries and that's divided into two bureaus. One of them is the Bureau of library development. Those are the people out in the state that you see doing summer reading programs.
[00:02:16] They also funnel the state and federal monies to libraries throughout the Commonwealth. Then there's the Bureau that I work for, which is the physical state library. We've been in existence since 1745. We've been collecting since then and hardly throw anything away. So I tell people that we are the pack, rats paradise, and we have things in dust about any subject you can name I've been working for the state library for this is my 20th year.
[00:02:53] I started out as the acquisitions librarian. So I got to buy all the books. Then as people retired and different things opened up, I became the government documents. Librarian. The state library is a collector of us. Government documents and has been since 1858. So my current role that way is called the regional librarian.
[00:03:21] And I am the liaison between the government publications office and over 40 libraries throughout the Commonwealth. I also oversee the reference services here at the state library, as well as the person who does interlibrary loan and circulation here at the state library. So I wear many hats, but I have a really good team of people who are referenced librarians, interlibrary loan technicians, circulation, assistance, all those kinds of people.
[00:03:57] So it's always something new every day. Of what I do for the state library, all sorts of people come in. The main people that we serve are Commonwealth employees, but we are one of the few libraries in the country that are open to the general public so that anyone can come into the state library. In order to take something out from the state library, you must be a Pennsylvania resident over the age of 16.
[00:04:33] So I've done a lot of things here at the state library, been on a lot of different committees. You never know what kind of question you're going to get? Sometimes it is genealogy. Sometimes it's science. Sometimes it's math, sometimes it's history, a little bit of everything. So I consider myself a general reference librarian.
[00:04:55] And if I need to, I can push a question off onto a specific law librarian or someone who does more genealogy than I do, but. I do a lot of the genealogy types of questions. All right.
[00:05:13] Denys Allen: Just provided a ton of information inside everything that you said. So I'm going to go all the way back to this beginning in 1745.
[00:05:22] And, and what did you say you were the wet pack? Rats,
[00:05:26] Kathy Hale: uh, Pat grants paradise, but what we started in 1745, Ben Franklin was the clerk for the general assembly of Pennsylvania. He was given the commission to. Sent to England for reference materials for the general assembly of Pennsylvania. And we have almost all of that set.
[00:05:50] There's a few missings that's in our rare collections library, uh, located. Within the state library. So we've been building on that ever since we do have a full load library of people are needing that kind of info, but we also have books that you can browse. They're mostly non-fiction, but there are some fiction books with us, but they are specifically written by Pennsylvania authors.
[00:06:21] So you'll find David McCullough here. You will find John Updike here. You will not find James Patterson because he's not from Pennsylvania.
[00:06:33] Denys Allen: That's funny John uptake. Uh, it was from my neck of the woods where I live now. So not far down the road is his ancestral home,
[00:06:41] Kathy Hale: right?
[00:06:42] Denys Allen: Yeah. So I love the, the pack rats paradise and the commitment to not throwing anything out.
[00:06:49] I, I think a lot of genealogists and family historians can relate to that. The absolute, um, I don't know what you say, like the, the absolute delight it can be to receive a box or any sort of information from way in the past that you didn't even know existed. And it sounds like a library and they're rare books has a lot of those things that we might not know exist, but you've preserved and EnCap that for us as Pennsylvania residents,
[00:07:18] Kathy Hale: The papers of Dorothy at dicks.
[00:07:21] When she worked up at the state hospital in Harrisburg, we inherited the papers that she had while she was there. We have all sorts of maps. We have over 35,000 maps at the state library.
[00:07:37] Denys Allen: Wow. Now, how would a researcher know what exactly you have in that rare books collection, or which of the 35,000 maps or
[00:07:47] Kathy Hale: you have, if they go to the state library's website, which is w w w dot state library, that's all one word, all lowercase.pa, like the state.
[00:08:04] Period. G O V. If they look on their left-hand side, they'll see a little book and it says catalog. So anyone doesn't have to be a library card holder from the state library. Anyone in the world can go into that catalog and do some discovery as to what we have.
[00:08:27] Denys Allen: That catalog you have to I've from, from my own experience, it's really well organized.
[00:08:33] You, you have used, um, all the ability of the catalog system itself, the software to really show people specifically what's in an item. So, um, I know I've used it for. Uh, church records that you have in your genealogy collection, and it is very specific exactly what churches are covered in a volume of church records.
[00:08:59] Kathy Hale: The catalogers would be very happy to hear you say that they did. They put a lot of work into putting in as much information as possible so that people can really identify those things that they need. For example, we have one of the largest. Pennsylvania newspaper collections. We feel in the world. And so people can look for the newspapers that they need by going to our catalog.
[00:09:31] They're organized according to the city where they were published and the County that they were published in so many genealogists don't know the name of the newspaper that they may be looking for, but they can identify those newspapers. That cover the time period that they're looking for by looking for the newspapers in the specific County that they're looking for, want to be careful with when you're doing that kind of research is to think historically not all of the counties existed.
[00:10:08] Right away. So for example, it started with Philadelphia. Philadelphia is both a city and a County. Then it went out to Chester and Berks counties and grew from there. So if people need help to identify if their ancestors lived back in the 18 hundreds, maybe the County that they are looking at. That exists today in the 21st century did not exist then.
[00:10:35] And we can help them to identify what that County would be.
[00:10:40] Denys Allen: Always great advice, Pennsylvania, for people that aren't from Pennsylvania might not realize. And even people that do live here, how much it changed, especially prior to like 1870, 1850. It was, it was very dynamic. Um, outside of the original Philadelphia County slash city, a lot of border changes, a lot of, um, And a lot of people moving from County to County too.
[00:11:05] Kathy Hale: Well, I have a theory that everyone has come through Pennsylvania on the way to someplace else.
[00:11:12] Denys Allen: Kathy. I shared the exact same theory. I do. I really do. I, I get contacted as a genealogist from a lot of people from all over the United States are like, I have this ancestor who came through Pennsylvania and I'm like, I know you did, because I feel like everybody has at least one
[00:11:31] Kathy Hale: that's right.
[00:11:31] That's right. So some of them went through the Northern tier areas. PA Potter and Tioga counties. Some came up from the South, through your County and then out towards Pittsburgh to get to the Ohio Valley. Some came from new England through the Philadelphia area on their way to the South, Kentucky, Tennessee, those kinds of places.
[00:11:58] So I still feel that they came through Pennsylvania in some way. Some of them left footprints and some of them did not. So I usually tell people don't be worried if you can't find somebody because maybe they didn't stay long enough in order to make a footprint here.
[00:12:20] Denys Allen: Exactly. Um, Pennsylvania was, uh, a place full of canals, which we don't really talk about canal transportation.
[00:12:28] Um, we, we have some rivers that were navigable and, uh, of course the railroad when that came. So there's criss-cross and people went that, you know, around that way. Um, yeah, we were. Pennsylvania. I mean, we're still a busy place, but I think we were really the center of a lot of activity, uh, early on in the country.
[00:12:48] And it was a place that was unique, I think in terms of development, um, having its Quaker background and, uh, you
[00:12:58] Kathy Hale: know, the,
[00:13:00] Denys Allen: it was a place where people could experience a freedom that they couldn't get maybe some other places.
[00:13:05] Kathy Hale: That's right.
[00:13:06] Denys Allen: Yeah. So, um, Back to your, the library and its relationship to other libraries.
[00:13:13] If someone was say in Scranton or, um, Clarion County, or, you know, and wanted to borrow something out of the state library of Pennsylvania, and could they do that?
[00:13:26] Kathy Hale: Anyone can get a library card from. The state library. We usually suggest to people though, if they are outside of the Harrisburg area, that they use interlibrary loan in order to get the materials, we do not lend our genealogy types of materials because we'd never get them back.
[00:13:52] And so we. We'll do interlibrary loan. If you discover something on the catalog that we will send pages of indexes so that people can look up to get a specific page, then we would scan a page and send it to the library so they can do it that way. We do land our newspaper microfilm. Two libraries throughout the country.
[00:14:19] So someone could be in Nevada or California, Washington, Tennessee, Georgia, whatever. And they could discover newspaper microfilm that we have. And then they could go to their local public library in order to ask. The state library to send reels of microfilm. We do limit the amount of microfilm that we send out and to one person at one time.
[00:14:47] So they can borrow up to five reels of microfilm at one time. And a reel is typically one month. Worth of a newspaper. Some of them are a little more because especially some of the early newspapers were only two and three pages each, maybe they came out every week, every other week versus the Philadelphia Inquirer.
[00:15:13] That was a large paper, especially into the 20th century. And you might have half a month on a reel of microfilm, but again, we can help you to identify. The newspapers that you want and how many reels or how many newspapers are on each reel? Okay.
[00:15:36] Denys Allen: That's really exciting because newspapers are, even though there's a lot digitize now for a lot of the more rural communities or smaller run newspapers, they weren't, they haven't been digitized.
[00:15:50] And when they will be, who knows,
[00:15:52] Kathy Hale: but
[00:15:53] Denys Allen: they are a fantastic source for genealogists and researchers. Just to get a flavor of that community and who lived there and the kinds of things that happened.
[00:16:02] Kathy Hale: Well, especially in the 17 and 18 hundreds, even into the early 19 hundreds, a newspaper is a picture of life in that community.
[00:16:15] So then. If I went to go visit my niece in Wilkes-Barre Pennsylvania, it would have something like that in the newspaper and how long I stayed there. Especially the obituaries or birth announcements, but especially obituaries will have something about the person. If they belong to rotary or a different social club, sometimes they'll list the names of children or parents.
[00:16:45] If they came from another country, it might say that they came from Germany or Ireland. So there's just so much information in newspapers and especially people who were very active in their community. They might have a picture of them with the mayor and the big checks that they got, something like that.
[00:17:06] So there's lots of information. Some people come and look to see. If a relative of theirs was on a specific sports team, they played high school baseball or basketball, and there might be a picture of that person and maybe other people on the team are related to them. So there's all sorts of clues in newspapers for people doing genealogy.
[00:17:33] Denys Allen: just provided a whole wealth of tips for people and ways to do that research for the folks that are using the inner library loan, uh, within the state of Pennsylvania, you mentioned sending the index and then the pages, how would they go about making that request to the state library of Pennsylvania to get, uh, the index pages to start.
[00:17:54] Kathy Hale: They would go to their local public library. They would tell them the name of the book that they're wanting. And then we could come. The library would communicate to us the book that the person wanted, some of our genealogy material. Does circulate, if it's not specifically a reference genealogy type of book, we have loads of books that are histories of areas that do circulate to other libraries.
[00:18:28] Or if it's something that we come back and say, I'm sorry, this doesn't circulate. Then the. Library could ask us again for an index or a specific name. That way we could look that up in the index and then perhaps send the page out of the book that the person would need. So there's lots of ways that the state library will work with the local library and its patron in order to provide the material that people need.
[00:19:01] Denys Allen: That is quite a partnership between the local library and the state library in the Capitol. It's, it's a wonderful, it's wonderful when all our communities can collaborate, you know, for what people need. And, and I'm assuming this going back and forth is, is free for people that are residents of the state.
[00:19:24] Kathy Hale: It's free. As far as the state libraries concerned, some public libraries may charge you a small fee. If we have to mail something to you or they have to mail something to us, it's really dependent upon the library that the person is working with. But we do not charge the library for. The material that we send, if especially we're sending it electronically, we just send it to wherever the library would like us to send it to it's usually involving mailing costs that the patron it's, uh, himself or herself would be charged, but not by us.
[00:20:05] It would be by the local library. Yeah,
[00:20:09] Denys Allen: that makes sense. Their budgets are always tight at a local level, you know, it's, it's, uh, I think everybody loves their library and everyone wants it to always. Be there forever, but it, it, you know, they need our support,
[00:20:22] Kathy Hale: you know, definitely locally or their tax dollars hard at work.
[00:20:26] Denys Allen: Yeah.
[00:20:28] Kathy Hale: You don't have to try and find or buy the book. And many of these books are not available for sale and they are not available electronically all the time so that if somebody needs something in the state library has already spent the money we're going to share and libraries. Are about sharing that we want to share with people, the things that we have, that's
[00:20:53] Denys Allen: beautiful.
[00:20:54] Um, so I'm an incredibly impatient person and, um, would never wait for something to come to me through my inner library loan. I hate to admit it. I'm very impatient. So, um, and I'm, and I'm incredibly curious. Um, so I am a terrible person at Christmastime. I can tell you that. Um, and so I drove to the state library of Pennsylvania.
[00:21:16] I've I've come, I've come visited a couple of times, um, because your genealogy collection is fantastic for people that have. Ancestors in Pennsylvania and might've moved between counties and communities. It's a kind of a one-stop shop where you can access a whole range of records and good ones in each County without having to go right to the County specifically.
[00:21:45] So you can kind of do a very, uh, I wouldn't even say high level search. Cause it's kind of deeper than that. It's a very comprehensive search of your, of what I'd say between you and the state archives. Definitely. It's a, it's a combination of a one, two punch combination, but really get, you know, um, a great overview of that County.
[00:22:07] Um, the kind of records that they have that are not governmental records. Sometimes, sometimes it's indexes of probate. Um, and you always seem to consistently have those biographies written in the late 18 hundreds, um, which are great to get like, uh, a history of the County, a flavor of the County.
[00:22:26] Kathy Hale: Well, we're generalist in the fact that we.
[00:22:30] Have things from each of the 67 counties. So as people moved around in Pennsylvania, we can allow people to follow from County to County. Now, if they go to a local historical society, for example, dolphin County, historical society has a lot of material that is very specific to that County. We may not have so that we want.
[00:22:58] People to not only come to us, but look for their local historical society. And if they need to find out what that is, the state library has a listing of all of the historical societies that are in Pennsylvania. On our website. We have what's called a research guide. So if they go to our website and under the heading for general public, they can.
[00:23:28] Click on that. And one of the things is a research guide for genealogy and local history. So part of that is a listing of the historical societies that are in Pennsylvania, so that if they don't find something with us, we always are trying to push it. The person out to other places that they might be able to find information because from doing your own genealogy, I felt my parents do my family's genealogy.
[00:24:01] It's never all in one place. That's a big misconception that people have that they're going to come to the state library and find every relative they ever had. Not going to happen so that they might have to travel or ask other historical societies or other places for information. It really depends on who and what they're looking for.
[00:24:26] I heard a lecture one time that the. Worse, your relative was like, if they were bad, the better for you now, because then there is some sort of footprint or record of something they did. So if they were in jail or they got divorced or were thrown out of the church, there might be something more than if they were a good church going tax, paying person.
[00:24:55] Denys Allen: You're giving hope to a lot of people who find those folks in our family tree.
[00:24:59] Kathy Hale: That's right. There's always a black sheep somewhere.
[00:25:03] Denys Allen: And so the it's kind of always the good news, bad news situation, you know, it's like, uh, with a family history, for sure.
[00:25:13] Kathy Hale: So
[00:25:13] Denys Allen: when a person is coming to the state library, they decided, Hey, I'm just going to take a day and I'm going to come to the state library and, and wander through the genealogy information that you have.
[00:25:26] Kathy Hale: Well, it's a little different right now in the fact that. That the department of general services of Pennsylvania has decided to renovate the forum building where the state library is usually housed. So right now we are in a temporary location and will be for the next two years. So our address is 400 North street.
[00:25:52] In Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and then can find that information on our website. There is a there's three columns on the main website. There's one that says we've moved because we had to go from a very big building, into a very small space. So we weren't able to bring everything with us. In order to be in this small space now, right now they're letting us back into the building so that we can get materials, but there might be a time that when they are doing some of the renovations, someone may have to wait a little bit.
[00:26:31] In order to get the material that they want. So someone like yourself who is very impatient, um, they are going to have to be patient while we are doing this renovations. But when we open up, it's going to be bigger and more beautiful than ever before.
[00:26:49] Denys Allen: That's that's wonderful. Yes. I wondered the. Hmm, the forum building before it was renovated.
[00:26:54] I managed to get in there in July right before it closed for renovation. Uh, and it's. Yeah. And then I visited in the, excuse me, temporary space. And it is a condensed version of what you had in the older space in terms of the genealogy work. However, your S there is a form on the website and a way to request, uh, the materials to come from the forum, building over to the new space.
[00:27:24] Yeah. And I believe they said for those of us that are impatient or maybe spontaneous to make sure to make that request at least a week ahead of time.
[00:27:34] Kathy Hale: Yes, because we try and go over every day. But at some point in time, they're going to say, because maybe they found asbestos in the building or some other hazard that they're not going to let even us into the building so that you have to be careful that we don't want people to come from the outer reaches of Pennsylvania or Kentucky or Indiana get here.
[00:27:59] And then. The thing that they wanted is not here just because they didn't ask.
[00:28:05] Denys Allen: Excellent advice, make sure to plan ahead for any sort of research trip. Um, especially if you're coming from out of state or a longer distance and people should use that catalog, which is so well done on your website first. So look and see what you have the extent of the records, uh, that your, your, your holdings, uh, what it looks like they could be using.
[00:28:27] Kathy Hale: Yes. If we have digitized something or if we have something electronic, then the person just through the catalog. If we have digitized it, they can click on a link and open the document right there. So especially some of our more rare materials we have digitized. The other thing that I want to. Make sure that people know is that if something is listed in the rare collections library, they should contact the rare collections librarian in order to see if we can bring it from the forum building to the.
[00:29:08] Temporary space that we have in the Keystone building, but because that's also under construction and rare, we have to be careful about what we bring out. So the person that they need to contact is Michael Lear, L E a R. And if they need his phone number and email, they can contact the state libraries reference number.
[00:29:33] And that number is area code seven one seven. Seven eight three five nine five zero. And that's really for any reference. And I
[00:29:44] Denys Allen: can put all the information you're providing in the show notes. So people can just have an easy access to that. And not me to write it down right from the
[00:29:54] Kathy Hale: well that's also on our website under contact us.
[00:29:57] It has that number on there as well. Okay, perfect. And then there was a reference email that they can email and either myself or another staff member checks that every day. And genealogy is one of the biggest questions that we answer.
[00:30:13] Denys Allen: I bet. What is some of the top questions that you get in terms of genealogy?
[00:30:19] Kathy Hale: Mainly people have hit a brick wall and they've been looking for a person for quite a long time. So they're just looking for some hints as to where can they find information. Some people are just starting out and have never done genealogy before. So they want to know places that they can go in order to start their genealogy.
[00:30:43] So that's why we usually tell people to go to our research guide in order to. Find out where to start. They can also borrow from us. We have in our general collection, genealogy for dummies. Have you, are you looking for your people? So lots of libraries have books that people can use in order to just get started.
[00:31:10] There's lots of people who have been doing genealogy for a long time. The genealogy craze really started in 1976 when the program roots came out so that people were then very interested in finding out where they came from. And Americans are really. A mixed kind of race. So not everybody is pure Irish.
[00:31:38] Like I am, but many people have mixtures of many kinds of people that have come to who they are right now. There's also when they come to the state library, there are three databases that they can use. We do have a library edition of ancestry.com so they can look at that. We also have heritage quest as a database that they can look at.
[00:32:04] That's has a little bit of different things than the ancestry. And we also have full three. Those are military types of records. So they can also do some searching on the computer while they're here.
[00:32:18] Denys Allen: Um, and for people that are used to doing most of their genealogy research on the computer versus in person using books, what's the biggest advice you have for, for folks to make that transition?
[00:32:32] Kathy Hale: Do you mean going from. Computers two books.
[00:32:36] Denys Allen: Yeah. So w I think, uh, a lot of folks are used to just typing into a search box and then getting a bunch of, uh, what the computer system thinks are relevant hints or records for them. And when you're looking at doing research based on books, it's a different.
[00:32:55] Process because yes, there's a catalog for the books, but, um, and yes, there's indexes to look up people, but it's a different, um, the book isn't going to tell you, this is a top head, I guess as my,
[00:33:08] Kathy Hale: no, it's not going to tell you it's a top hit. The other thing we usually tell people is that spelling was not homogenous until the mid 20th century.
[00:33:20] So that what. Their name is now could be totally different when they're spelling it. Even something as simple as Smith could be S M I T H or S M Y T H, or any variant spelling. So that. They want to not be married to one spelling or another plus just like today, people spelling was atrocious. So they have to think about variations of that.
[00:33:53] Especially people who came from the Slavic countries into this country, but even my maiden name was McGahn and we spell it M a G a N N. But. I have also seen it M a G a H a N, and variant spellings like that. So don't be wedded to one spelling. The other thing that we tell people is that many people within a family are called the same thing.
[00:34:24] So there might be eight Mary's, two Johns, some Patrick's Ivan's depending on the ethnicity that you have. So you want to try and make sure that you're looking at the right Mary or the right Patrick in the fact that they're born at a certain date or that they're in the census on one page, and maybe you find them somewhere else, make sure that you're looking at the right person because we've had people go off onto some really wild tangents because they're looking at the wrong person.
[00:35:03] Denys Allen: And I think what happens is when you're doing the research on the computer through one of the online providers of genealogy records, you can make those mistakes and they kind of just slipped by you. You can add that record to an ancestor and not really think about it, but when you're in a book, it seems like it's more confrontational or it makes, at least for me, it makes me think more or.
[00:35:29] Handle it differently
[00:35:31] Kathy Hale: because a lot of time in a book, it will also have the relationship right there. So you might have 18 Smiths and you're looking for Patrick and, but you know, he's married to Nancy, so it's a little easier, I think sometimes to make the connection in a book. Versus the computer, but the computer has the advantage of you can go back and forth quickly between one record and another.
[00:36:00] Yeah, that's true. So there's advantages to both.
[00:36:05] Denys Allen: There certainly is. Um, one of the things Erin mentioned, uh, from, uh, was that the Pennsylvania state archives has digitized some of the records and hosted them at the. Power library.
[00:36:19] Kathy Hale: Yeah.
[00:36:20] Denys Allen: Yeah. So could you share a little bit about the power library and what that holds
[00:36:25] Kathy Hale: the power library is available to any Pennsylvania?
[00:36:30] They can go to power library.org. And as part of the power library is Pennsylvania digital documents. So that lots of libraries have digitized different things such as newspapers, yearbooks. Different materials that are at different academic institutions, historical societies. So what's nice about the power library.
[00:37:01] Digital documents is that you can go in and search over all of the collections that are there. So for example, one of the things that the state library has posted there, we have. A set of 80 scrapbooks that some poor librarian or set of librarians went through newspapers during the late 18 hundreds, early 19 hundreds, and cut out obituaries from people of the civil war era.
[00:37:37] So there's everyone from Jubal be early. To a private, but there's also just regular people in there as well. And that 80 volumes has been digitized as crawled the necrology. And you can look at that anywhere in the country by going onto the power library. Okay, great.
[00:38:02] Denys Allen: I found on the power library. Um, I'm originally from Conshohocken and the power library has digitized the entire run of the Conshohocken.
[00:38:14] Kathy Hale: Right. Uh, people are, will also be interested as far as newspapers that the state library has been part of the library of congresses, chronicling America. So that you can look at newspapers really from all 50 States, they begin in the 18 hundreds go to about 1923. But what's nice about the chronicling America is that you can look state by state.
[00:38:42] So that if you want to look in Pennsylvania newspapers, for example, we had a person that wanted to learn about the influenza in 1917 and 18 in Philadelphia, and see if there were any pictures that they could get. And we were able to do that by going to the chronicling America.
[00:39:04] Denys Allen: Okay. So a four. You're 20 years that you've been at the library, you've interacted with a lot of people asking a lot of, a lot of different kinds of questions you're dealing with the general public.
[00:39:18] And, and, um, I'm really curious, what has been the most sort of the story that stuck with you in terms of an amazing discovery someone made in your collection that they shared with you or, or something that you were like, wow, we have that,
[00:39:33] Kathy Hale: the thing that comes to mind was about two summers ago. The student came to us.
[00:39:39] They were part of a program at Penn state university. That is part of the finding your roots program on PBS with Louie Gates. They have a camp every summer for students to learn about science, but one of the aspects of that as they get their DNA done and they have to do some genealogy research. In order to substantiate what they find on their DNA.
[00:40:11] So one of the young men that was there, he thought that one of his relatives was from the pilgrims. And so he came to the state library because we were the most local place that had a set of books that showed the first five. Generations of people from the people who signed the Mayflower contract. So the first pilgrims that came over, we were able to trace his genealogy back to John and Priscilla, Alden and William Bradford.
[00:40:52] William Bradford was the governor of the. Plymouth plant plantation. And John Alden and Priscilla were made famous in the poem by Longfellow. Uh, and he's like, well, so what, and I'm like, so what, what do you mean? So what, when you're at the Thanksgiving table, these are your relatives that are there and he has become a genealogy fanatic.
[00:41:18] Trying to find more out about his people that went all the way back that far. So that was, I think one of the, wow, I can't believe it. Kind of moments that we had,
[00:41:32] Denys Allen: that is a wonderful story and his whole reaction, especially with the DNA stuff. Yeah. You just never know what you're going to get back and yeah.
[00:41:41] Good for him for taking the time to trace it and, and ask the questions, you know? Cause that question. So what it comes up, you know, for all of us, like what does this mean?
[00:41:53] Kathy Hale: What really. Makes me excited is when someone has been looking for someone for a long time. And then all of a sudden, in some obscure book that we have, or some newspaper that they've been slogging through, that they find out.
[00:42:12] Someone that they've been looking for for a long time. So that makes me happy that they have found someone to fill in that elusive spot of the person that they couldn't find before.
[00:42:25] Denys Allen: I, and I hope I hope if there was like a genealogy gods, you know, I hope that they look down upon us and offer that up for the, the state library to do that for people every day.
[00:42:39] Kathy Hale: sure. We tell people don't get frustrated and keep all the things that you're finding, because you never know when that's going to spring back up and say, Oh, that's the person.
[00:42:51] Denys Allen: Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. So is there anything else that you wanted to share about the state library that I didn't ask or you wanted to make sure that was covered?
[00:43:01] Kathy Hale: If a person comes or calls or emails us. And the answer that they are looking for is just going to take too much time. We don't have a lot of staff here at the state library, and there's only a few of us who are dedicated to doing genealogy. We may push people to a list that we have of professional genealogists.
[00:43:29] That they for a fee can contact that person so that if they do live in California or Washington or Idaho, that there are people that for a fee can do the work for them here at the state library.
[00:43:44] Denys Allen: Okay. Good to know. So if, especially if your answer's complex or might cover several counties or a long time period, you're going to need a professional to partner with you.
[00:43:54] If you can't get in. To do the work yourself.
[00:43:57] Kathy Hale: That's right. So we'll help people as much as we can, but we're also serving a lot of other people. So we may push someone to contact one of those professional genealogists. They remember nothing else about the state library, lots of stuff. We are also a federal depository.
[00:44:19] We okay. Have been, like I said before, we've been collecting since 1858. So there might be some things in some of our government documents that we have that we also collect Pennsylvania documents that are. Reports that are put out by various agencies. So there might be some clues in some government documents.
[00:44:42] Most people don't think of government documents when it comes to genealogy, but there's all sorts of records that way. So if they're looking for say something from the Dar or the colonial Dames that might be in some of our government information,
[00:45:00] Denys Allen: I didn't know you had that either, but now after talking to you, I can see why you have that.
[00:45:05] Kathy Hale: Well, each year the Dar has to put in a report of what they had done for that year. So sometimes there are clues in what's called the serial set of the U S government. Or there might be military records or there might be pensions that they can see if the widow of someone asked for a pension, those are kinds of government documents that we would have.
[00:45:36] Denys Allen: Kathy, I wanted to thank you for your time. This morning, you provided such a wealth of information that. For anyone who's new to doing genealogy research or a more experienced researcher of what is available at the state library of Pennsylvania. I mean, some of this is on your website, but I think you provided the context and the reassurance for people to not only take a look, but to really dig in and talk with your staff and make the visit and to just keep doing the research.
[00:46:10] So thank you.
[00:46:12] Kathy Hale: Yes, you're welcome. I'm so glad to talk to you today. This is really exciting. I've never done anything like this before, so this is really great.
[00:46:20] Denys Allen: Oh, well, that's great. And you know, I think I definitely want to check in with you once you get your, your new home or your old home back,
[00:46:28] Kathy Hale: right.
[00:46:29] That's right. Our old home, back
[00:46:33] to that too.
[00:46:35] Denys Allen: Once the dust clears and everything, because maybe, uh, maybe you'll have some new stuff or new way to organize it. And who knows, maybe if that point I'll do a little video, you know, we can do a little video on site and people can say, Oh wow. I got to get down there.
[00:46:51] Kathy Hale: That's right.
[00:46:52] Denys Allen: All right.
[00:46:53] Thank you, Kathy.
[00:46:54] Kathy Hale: Okay, thank you so much.
[00:47:04] Denys Allen: I'd like to thank Kathy once again for all the time that you spent with me going over all the holdings that the library has. I learned a ton and I hope you did too. This episode, spurred a question for you, or you've just been kind of lost and confused about where to go next with your Pennsylvania research.
[00:47:23] Go to my website. Www.pa ancestors.com and click on leave a question. I think it would be a fun way for people to get their research questions answered and get to hear what other people are struggling with and how to solve it. Thanks for listening and don't forget to subscribe. So you don't miss the next episode. .
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