Discover Family History Through Genealogy Services in Colombia | Booming city
After her mother’s death in 1979, Mary Helen Allen felt compelled to finish what her mother had started: researching family history.
“You just get hooked,” said Allen, a librarian at the Genealogical Society of Boone County and Central Missouri.
Now 80, Allen is still learning new information about her ancestry.
“I never liked history in school or geography, but now I see what it’s all about,” she said.
Genealogy is a hobby that can be incorporated into daily free time. Two places in Colombia have resources that can help visitors dig into their own family history.
Genealogical Society of Boone County and Central Missouri
The Genealogical Society of Boone County and Central Missouri offers resources for anyone curious about their family history. From perusing volumes of historical documents to exploring nearby cemeteries, the public can interact with society in many ways.
The Genealogical Society Library is located in the Boone County Historical and Cultural Center, 3801 Ponderosa St. in Columbia. Visitors can use the library from noon to 4 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
Volunteers are available to help visitors get started, find relevant information, and share opportunities to become more involved beyond family history.
More than 2,500 books are stacked on floor-to-ceiling shelves in the library. With names, addresses, biographies and more filling each book, Allen said there are plenty of ways to encounter the unexpected.
Services available to the public are mostly free, Allen said. Conducting research and seeking advice is free. But users should expect to pay to make copies, buy books, or ask a researcher to locate information.
The Boone County History and Culture Center lends space used by the genealogical society. The two have worked together helping with research beyond what is available locally.
Limited information can be accessed directly on the center’s website.
Since 1975, the society has also offered memberships that include additional benefits to help with family history research, including a monthly newsletter and quarterly journal.
Members can expect to help preserve books, provide technical services, and gather information for others to use in the future. The group meets monthly to discuss upcoming projects and events.
Allen said those who are members get the reward of helping people find information, as well as having a place to be social and share knowledge.
Missouri State Historical Society
Across town, the State Historical Society of Missouri, 605 Elm St. in Columbia, also offers a range of services for those interested in genealogical research.
The organization was founded in 1898 by the Missouri Press Association, which wanted to collect and preserve Missouri newspapers. Since then, research has expanded beyond journals to art, oral histories, manuscripts, maps, and references.
“We’re happy to share our expertise in a way that works for them,” said Tatyana Shinn, Associate Reference Manager.
Genealogists and researchers can use their resources in person and remotely, Shinn said. Staff are available to help navigate the collections, find materials, and develop a research strategy.
Although there is a charge for using remote services, employees can extract relevant documents and send them to a client digitally or by mail.
The only charge for in-person services is for scanning the pages. To avoid costs, most researchers use a digital camera or cellphone to document the pages, Shinn said.
The research tab on the Historical Society’s website is a good place to start, Shinn said. Genealogy research guides help visitors navigate and understand what they can find in the lab compared to other repositories.
“If someone wants to see what we have, we help them strategize on where to look and how to look for specific pieces of information,” Shinn said.
Remote workshops are available to support those who are just beginning a genealogical journey. The workshops give a basic introduction to genealogy, explain how to conduct research, present available resources and more.
Other workshops cover participation in the Historical Society, the use of newspapers for research, access to government records and the preservation of family photographs.
“We’re really excited about these topics,” Shinn said. “We will be digging and digging and digging for hours, trying to help the client as best we can.”
Although the Historical Society is based in Columbia, five other sites can be found throughout the state to access records from almost anywhere in Missouri.
The Columbia site is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. from Tuesday to Friday and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday. It is closed on Sunday and Monday.