The Godfrey Memorial Library of Genealogy and History in Middletown, Connecticut, was established in 1947.
Family history researchers frequently find information on their ancestors in the library's thousands of online databases in addition to its onsite resources. Although it is a subscription site, numerous public libraries in the United States offer it for free or as a benefit of local library registration (where it can be accessed via users' home computers).
Although in Connecticut, the library is sometimes thought of as a state library or New England library, although its collections cover the Middle Atlantic states and the old Northwest Territory.
Some of the Godfrey's online resources include:
Godfrey Library Online Catalog: While most libraries have online catalogs, the Godfrey offers a special feature. In addition to searching for books by or about a specific family name, it also provides the resources found inside the book, other than ordinary catalog entries. More such references are added daily.
An example given by the library is a search for the name "Tyler," which produces 396 results.Most hits refer to the name inside a book where regular cataloging wouldn't find it. According to the library and researchers, this is a definite advantage and offers many more alternative results than an ordinary search.
American Civil War Research Database: This is an online resource for researching the individuals, regiments and battles of the American Civil War, with indexed, searchable information on 4.3 million soldiers and thousands of battles, together with 16,000 photographs. Researchers can find the military record of a soldier, and learn about a wide range of historical statistics.
Godfrey Library Links: The library has researched, evaluated and posted 3,000 links to other sites with important information for genealogists. All are free, though some require registration and a few are partially paid sites. Some 50 sites are added each month.
Godfrey Collection: The online databases were frequently updated with some 4,000 genealogies, memoirs, biographies and funeral sermons to the Godfrey Scholar program. All materials are from the library's own collections and represent the beginning of a long-term plan to digitize all materials in the public domain.
Godfrey Library Blog: According to the Godfrey's new blog, the American Genealogical Biographical Index (AGBI) will go online in January 2009. The 226-volume AGBI - published by the Godfrey - is an every name index of hundreds of genealogies, includes those only partially indexed or not at all. Also indexed is the genealogical column from the Boston Transcript (1896-1941), the 1790 census, parts of the Pennsylvania Archives and various vital, military and church records.
Other resources - not online - include these collections:
Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War: This collection includes 17 volumes, and 17,071 pages of records from muster rolls, pay rolls, registration returns, descriptive lists, orderly books and account books combined into 620,000 cards, then arranged alphabetically. It also includes records of Rhode Island regiments and the First New York; these are not online however, but can be used in the library or through a Quick Search.
Quick Search is a service for researchers; each costs $10 and takes up to 30 minutes. Staff and volunteers search the American Genealogical Biographical Index, county and local histories, biographies, vital records and pension abstracts for any name submitted. Results are sent to the requester. For more details, go to the library's main site, click on "Search", then on "Quick Search."
City Directories: Historic city directories are the precursors of the familiar telephone book. Reading through a city's chronological directories can give you a sense of your family. Learn where they lived, where they moved, what occupation family members followed, where their business was located, among other details. The Godfrey has an extensive collection of these very useful books. They are not online, but can be used in the library. There are 143 directories for Massachusetts communities alone, from 1825-1920.
Have you utilized any of the Godfrey's resources? I am working on a separate blog posting on city directories which will illustrate how these listings can help track your family.