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4110Re: [RI_Ancestors] What success in Westerly?

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  • Donna Potter
    Sep 1, 2010
      Hi Joyce,
      That's a question I cannot answer for sure. I have never been to one of the FHLs.
      My guess is that they probably could order the films from SLC if needed, but I cannot say for sure that SLC has them.
      Someone else might have the answer to that.
      ---- boles <rejoyce@...> wrote:


      Thanks for this info. I am glad to learn about the microfilms of all
      the records. Does the FHL have copies of these films as well?

      On 8/31/2010 9:29 PM, Donna Potter wrote:
      > Hi Joyce,
      > Many of the town halls require that you show some proof of being a
      > member of an incorporated genealogical society such as NEHGS in order
      > to use the records. That does not mean that if you wanted to get a
      > copy of your great great grandmother's birth record that you could not
      > get it without the card. That's very different than wanting to sit
      > there with the old volumes (Westerly has a lot of them!) and pore over
      > them yourself. I doubt you could get them all copied in two weeks,
      > actually. As I indicated there are a lot - wills, deeds, town council
      > records as well as regular vital records. Many of the oldest VR are
      > extracted from the town council and probate books and are not in
      > separate volumes as they would be now. Some town halls also cannot let
      > you sit in their vault (Hopkinton) because the clerk needs to work
      > there and there is simply not enough room for others to come in and
      > use the books in there. The clerk might look for the particular record
      > and give you the volume it is in, but if the next record you want is
      > in another book, you have to start all over. That can be time
      > consuming, especially if the clerk is really busy. Also, many town
      > halls are only open 7.5-8 hours a day so that limits the amount of
      > time you have on any day.
      > There are other town halls that just have you sign in and then you are
      > free to head in to the vault alone. Some of them do not care for
      > people who ask questions though, so if you cannot find what you want,
      > you may be facing a snotty clerk.
      > Many, if not all, the RI town records are microfilmed and available at
      > RIHS where you can just go in the drawer and pull the film you need
      > and read away, unless there are a lot of people who want to use the
      > microfilm readers that day.
      > A few years ago we did a survey on the old list and got feedback from
      > people who had been to particular town halls to see which ones were
      > friendly and which ones were not. Most got very good recommendations -
      > EG, Warwick, Providence, Cranston, Exeter were all rated pretty well.
      > Newport was panned, as was North Kingstown. Charlestown, Richmond,
      > Hopkinton, South Kingstown all fell in the middle. In general the
      > clerks work hard to protect the records so that is why they have set
      > the requirement in many towns that you show proof of membership in an
      > incorporated genealogical society. Genealogists, whether pro or
      > amateur, know how valuable the records are and would not do anything
      > to harm them. Someone who is simply on a lark to prove whether or not
      > his 5th great grandpa fathered 5 illegitimate kids per family legend
      > though might rip the page out and walk off with it. Charlestown in
      > particular has had issues with people ripping pages out of the books
      > if the pages showed Native American ancestry. If clerks did not
      > protect the records, there might not be any for us to see at all.
      > Donna in RI
      > ---- boles <rejoyce@...> wrote:
      > >
      > Joyce Boles wrote:
      > Has anyone gone to Westerly to read historic documents? What luck did
      > you have?
      > I am getting resistance from the Town Clerk's office, which is reporting
      > that only registered genealogists may search records. If RI has a
      > public records law, this restriction is probably illegal.
      > Other records are with the historical society and the library, I am told.
      > Is the volume of records so great one cannot read them all in a two-week
      > period?
      > What is the volume of records, exactly?
      > How many persons on this list are interested in such an effort? I am
      > looking at next April. I am thinking that a group descent on the Town
      > Hall might break open any resistance.
      > It might be possible to photograph all the records and put them all up
      > on the internet. I am surprised the Town Hall has not had them all
      > digitized so they can be brought to the waiting world.

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