Who Do You Think You Are—A Musician? Genealogy in the Music Division
Genealogy is back on prime time with the resumption of the show Who Do You Think You Are?, now beginning its second season on NBC-TV on Friday, February 4th. Genealogy is my hobby too, so I'm always excited when I can combine it with my professional activities in the Music Division.
According to the American Library Association, "Genealogical research has become one of America's favorite pastimes." I've heard that a recent national library report stated that 80% of researchers working with archival collections at libraries, museums and historical societies are working on genealogy. Wow! While that may be a slight overstatement, it suggests that genealogy is a topic that engages our user community - whether it be for research or recreation.
I suspect most people start out searching their own family history, or searching the family history of famous individuals. The pattern of their research is usually finding an individual in various sources. Less often, one finds people interested in the sources themselves—sources which, when thoroughly examined, can provide a lot of interesting information. So I'm going to focus on one source that I've found particularly useful and interesting.
Genealogists love resources that have listings of names with additional information. Among the more useful are directories. Probably the most well-known kind of directory are city directories. These were usually published annually (sometimes more frequently), and contain listings of the occupants of a city, usually with their address and occupation. Many of these city directories were published by Polk's (a search of Polk's directory in our Catalog will reveal many such city directories). By the mid-1920s, city directories were often supplanted by phone directories. (New York City stopped producing such directories by the 1930s.) One of our leading genealogical online resources, AncestryLibrary (produced by Ancestry.com, the creators of Who Do You Think You Are?), is always adding to their already large number of digitized versions of such directories. (AncestryLibrary is available for free in all branches of The New York Public Library.)