The Onondaga County Public Library and FamilySearch announced Aug. 12 a joint initiative to digitally preserve 40,000 historic titles from the library’s collections and make them freely accessible online to patrons worldwide. Some of the titles are extremely rare, dating back to Colonial America.
Under the agreement, FamilySearch will digitally preserve the Onondaga County Public Library’s collections and make them available to the library’s patrons at FamilySearch.org. The materials will be a tremendous resource for anyone researching local history or genealogical roots from the region. The digitized records will include published family histories, local and county histories, directories, locality records, school yearbooks, Bible records, personal journals published before 1920 and published cemetery records.
“Many of the items that will be digitally preserved are irreplaceable,” said Holly Sammons, the head librarian in the Local History and Genealogy Department at the library. For example, the library owns the only copy of an original journal kept by a Revolutionary War soldier. Another treasure to be digitized is a set of genealogical records collected by a woman who retired from the Census Bureau about 1930. “She knocked on doors in the western part of Onondaga County, collecting family Bible records and journals, asking questions and gathering family history records. The library also has a collection of obituaries from 1860 to 1980 from the Syracuse and the Central New York area,” she added.
More than 130 years ago, an Onondaga County librarian had the vision to begin acquiring and carefully preserving unique records in the Syracuse Library’s archives. This collection would eventually become the Local History and Genealogy Department of the Robert P. Kinchen Central Library, a member of the Onondaga County Public Library System. Today, the department is a renowned resource for researchers looking for historic materials from Onondaga County and New York State, as well as the New England States, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
This project is of particular interest to FamilySearch because it both digitally preserves and significantly increases access to very rare New York and Colonial American records that are predominantly unavailable online. FamilySearch will provide custom digital-scanning equipment and trained volunteers to support the multiyear project — all at no cost to the library.