Today has been a rather frustrating research day. My plan was to spend the day at the Vermont State Archives, researching the whole concept of the Green Mountains. I have an ancestor I am trying to find–he said he was born, 1808 “at the foot of the Green Mountains.” And since the Green Mountains extend from Canada on the north to the Massachusetts line on the South, what a task to find him.
And I found myself looking for the Archives all day long. Evidently, this government agency moved recently from 26 terrace Street (off the map of the state capitol and its complex of buildings.) Now I called the phone number posted on their current website to check if they were open and what hours. I got the Secretary of State’ office and that should have tipped me off early on. When I arrived, the State Capitol staff directed me to the address by drawing the street on my map.
When I got to Terrace Street, the Redstone House was occupied by the Department of Mental Health. They sent me to the Secretary of State’s Office, here, I was told, the archives had been moved. Not so. The clerk informed me that the new location was in Middlesex not Montpelier. And she gave me the new address and phone number.
Now, when I had called in the morning, I was told the Archives was open from 8 to 4, even though it was Monday.
So I called the new phone number. A very pleasant clerk answered. Yes, the Archives was open. And no, not for research. I would have to come tomorrow. It didn’t matter that I had driven over 3,000 miles to access their original documents.
I”m going back tomorrow–I have three research cases in Vermont–you know the kind I get–hard-to-find-ancestors.
Some lessons in all this–
- Archives and libraries in spite of their permanent air, move from building to building seeking a less expensive venue with more space so they can still fulfill their mission.
- Public websites may not be updated as these moves occur–keeping old data in place.
- Local officials may not know where the archives has gone. And in their attempts to be helpful, they frequently supply incorrect information. Or answer without disclosing all the details you need to find and use their collections.
- Many libraries and archives are closed on Monday. And if budget cuts have occurred, they may be closed other days. Like the Rhode Island Historical Society opening Wednesday and being closed on Monday and Tuesday. Or the Hinsdale Historical Society being open only on Thursdays and Saturdays from 2-4 pm.
- Its best to plan for additional time, even days, to accommodate the circumstances you find. Don’t cut yourself short–you may be traveling a long distance to get there.
- The Library staff are usually not to blame for the mis-information since they may be caught unawares too. Don’t take your frustration out on them. Be pleasant and entertained about it all. Remember this sage advice: if anything can go wrong, itwill.
Stay tuned for the next exciting episode of Arlene in Vermont, and Maine, and Rhode Island and other states. Your favorite genealogist, Arlene Eakle
PS I do New England research on occasion–but the mishaps turn up in all places.