June 11, 2021
After over a year of being restricted to online researching, I’m anxious to return to in-person researching. In spite of that, I’m not quite ready to book a flight and head off to Salt Lake City or Boston or New Jersey just yet. Part of the problem with booking a long-awaited research trip right now is that many of the larger libraries and archives are still not open to the public. Even if they are, some are still limiting how many researchers can visit at a time and how long they can stay. Until those limitations are lifted, it hardly seems practical to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on making a trip that may prove disappointing.
So what’s an anxious genealogist to do in the meantime? For those of us who live in Northern Colorado, we have a couple of good options right in our own neighborhood. Now that summer is here, and many of us are fully vaccinated, it’s a great time to start moving away from a fully virtual existence towards a more in-person one.
The local Family History Center on the corner of Swallow and Stover Streets here in Fort Collins has recently re-opened. At present, the hours are somewhat shortened; they’re only open on Tuesday and Wednesday from 10 AM to 1 PM. They’re also limiting the number of computer users so it’s best to call ahead (970-226-5999) before you go.
The good news is that, for the first time in over a year and half, genealogists will be able to access all of those digitized records found in the FamilySearch catalog with a key symbol above their availability status. This will allow us to access thousands of deeds, probate files, vital records and all sorts of other documents that haven’t been available for so long. Since the Center is right here in Fort Collins, there’s no reason not to take advantage of its wealth of research possibilities.
If you’re feeling like you might like to take a bit of a car trip, Cheyenne, Wyoming, is just about 40 minutes north, and the Laramie County Public Library is also open. They’re open seven days a week, but hours vary so it’s worth checking on their website for specific hours (https://lclsonline.org/ ) If it’s your first time visiting, it’s a good idea to use the website to schedule a tour of the genealogy center.
The Laramie County Public Library is a great research destination with over 20,000 genealogy books. The books cover all parts of the U.S. and other countries as well as military records, family histories and more. You’re sure to find something of value to aid your own research.
Finally, if you’re lucky enough to have any ancestors who called Wyoming home, you may want to stop by the Wyoming State Archives while you’re in Cheyenne. The archives are fully open now, although their website says that they are observing social distancing and require face masks. They’re open weekdays from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM. Check their website at https://wyoarchives.wyo.gov/ for further information.
The Fort Collins Family History Center, the Laramie County Public Library and the Wyoming State Archives are all nearby repositories that are well worth your research time. If, like me, you’re ready for some in-person research, they might just be the ideal first step towards a lengthier research trip. Happy searching.
Researcher/Director at Large