Someday, we’ll be able to visit archives and libraries IN PERSON. When that time comes, ArchiveGrid is your friend. (Of course, you can always contact an archive you are interested in visiting – they may have open hours or have someone available to you for research, even during the time of COVID.)
Not everything is online; not everything is digitized. ArchiveGrid, according to their website https://researchworks.oclc.org/archivegrid/, “includes over 5 million records describing archival materials, bringing together information about historical documents, personal papers, family histories, and more. With over 1,000 different archival institutions represented, ArchiveGrid helps researchers looking for primary source materials held in archives, libraries, museums and historical societies.”
Tips for searching ArchiveGrid are in the top right on the “How to Search” tab. I decided to search for something locally so I typed in “Golden Gate Canyon” Colorado. (Without adding Colorado, my search brought up a canyon in Montana.) Several interesting search results popped up, including an oral history discussing the Coors family, an album of photographs from a trip to the American West in the late 19th century, and a view of the entrance to Golden Gate Canyon from the Denver Public Library. Interested in the view of the canyon, I clicked on “View the Catalog Record”.
The item’s description is listed, along with a link to WorldCat to see if this item is available elsewhere. In this case, WorldCat shows that this item is specific to the Denver Public Library and there is no link to an online image. The Contact Information link brings me to a form that I can fill out and request information about the collection (including COVID restrictions for the archive). If I want to visit the DPL in person, clicking the Archive Map link brings me to a map and specific GPS coordinates.
To view a collection whose description has links to online images or sound recordings, add “has_links:1” to a search. Along with the details on a page, there will be a “Finding Aids” link to the repository that has the record. Unfortunately, many of these links are broken but you can see the repository that houses the item and search there.
I also keyed in “Russell County Kentucky” in the search bar to see what records appeared. Quite a few search results were returned, including one for church records.
These records are at the Russell County Historical Society. The detail informs me that this collection includes the Creelsboro Church of the Nazarene records from 1913-1934 and that they are photocopies. If I had ancestors that attended this church, I would definitely want to check this out. Clicking “Contact Information” takes me to the Kentucky Historical Society website with information about their hours and COVID-19 precautions and I can also find on their website how to request copies of records if I am out of state.
This website also lets you find archives nearby. Choose your state on the main page under “Search for a location or zip”. Under Colorado, there are 21 archives. Clicking on any one of these will bring up a dialog box and the choice is to Search the Collections or Contact Information”. For the Colorado School of Mines, there are 1,789 collections. These collections primarily concern mines in Colorado. There is quite a bit of historical information in these records so if you are searching for one of your entrepreneurial ancestors who went west to seek their fortune, this might be a good collection to check out.
Remember, it’s not all online. Sometimes we have to actually visit places or have someone in that repository look at records for us. After the danger of COVID-19 has passed, I look forward to spending some in-person time at the Denver Public Library, and to make the best use of my time, I will be perusing some of their holdings before I make a trip.