CLINTON — Archivist Brad Wiles is looking to increase genealogy programing in the Clinton Public Library Root Cellar.
The Root Cellar holds a variety of family and local histories, census records, county school records, land records, city directories, maps and plat books and local newspapers from 1856 to present. A visitor can also find old yearbooks, passenger and immigration indexes and cemetery information. It also contains a variety of reference collections.
“And I think in some ways, that (genealogy) will always be the focus of the room,” Wiles said. He is currently planning programming to highlight genealogy within the Clinton area.
Starting last month, Wiles has continued the monthly “genealogy day,” which started in 2013. For $5 apiece, citizens can spend the day, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., researching family history and ongoing genealogy projects. The fee includes a lunch and free copies.
“It’s just kind of fun gathering of people with a common interest,” Wiles said. “You have a lot of people who kind of go out of their way to make it.”
Genealogy day allows those working on similar projects to discuss them, exchange ideas and learn tricks of the trade. Since Wiles is not from the Clinton area originally, he said the patrons can sometimes offer each other more tips and information than he can. He finds it interesting to see these individuals interact.
“It’s kind of to get a good mix of interest and level of expertise,” Wiles said. “People who are working on projects, they can gather and have conversations.”
Last year, genealogy day was held on Fridays. This year, it has been moved to the last Saturday of the month. Wiles said more people seem to be available on Saturdays.
“We want to involve as many people as we can,” Wiles said. “And there’s a lot of people who are interested in it.”
The root cellar on Saturday will host a presentation on African American genealogy, featuring Brianne Wright, curator at the African American Museum of Iowa in Cedar Rapids. This event will also highlight comments by former Clinton Mayor Lametta Wynn on the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. Members of the community are invited to share their stories as well.
“We’re always looking to reach out to different communities that might not receive a lot of attention within our collections” Wiles said.
The presentation will run from 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. in the root cellar. The event is free and open to the public, but people are encouraged to make reservations by either calling 242-0840 or email email@example.com.
Wiles will hold a special genealogy presentation every month. In March, he will focus on using online genealogy search engines, such as Familysearch.org. The root cellar will feature an expert on the preservation of family historical items in April.
“(People can) bring their collections; bring things they’re interested in having looked at,” Wiles said.
Wiles is also working on creating a mobile application for Clinton cemeteries and holding a Clinton-area history scavenger hunt in May and history and heritage tours in the fall.
More information will be released as it becomes available at a later date.