The Marshfield Mail visits The Webster County Historical Society Research Center every 6 months or so to borrow archives for the Looking Back nostalgia section of the paper. However, the research center is quite the hidden gem within our community.
“The historical society is here for people to come in to research family history and sometimes just to research things about their own farm or home – to know the history behind it and who had it before them,” said volunteer Arleen Tackett.
“There’s always something to discover… it’s really fun when you get into it.”
The Historical Society keeps a detailed record of local history, land records, newspaper archives and more. Which is helpful when researching family history and genealogy.
“Newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, photo albums – pretty much anything that a family doesn’t want to hold on to they’ll bring in and donate it here for our records and we’ll organize it the best we can accordingly,” explained Tackett.
“Whether a family just doesn’t want it all, have space for it or it’s already been copied electronically.. if it gets donated here and someone has went through all this trouble to pull these articles out of the paper and organize them according to their family history, we save that so someday someone researching things about their family history will have a treasure to discover.”
Another thing the historical society keeps a record of is past phone books, obituaries and census records.
“We try to keep track of families by counties and we have records of each census from the past available as well,” said volunteer Linda Dickinson.
“What’s really fun is the old obituaries… a lot of obituaries these days don’t go into much detail and stay pretty short, but these obituaries really tell it all – if you ever have time to come read some, you should,” she added. “They are so neat.”
Newspaper archives are the records of our local communitites. The Historical Society Research Center has archives of the Marshfield Mail, Webster County Citizen and even old copies of the Conway and Niangua newspapers dating back to the late 1800’s.
“When you start looking into family stuff, it’s interesting to come across new leads that take you all over the area and introduce you to so many new things about your own family legacy. Believe it or not, the Conway and Niangua papers are a great resource to look into if your family has been here for a long time,” said Tackett.
“If you haven’t researched your family through the Historical Society yet, you really should,” said Dickinson. “We have military records, confederate stuff, probate files… there’s just really something to spark some curiosity in everyone.”
Items cannot leave the building, but the resources are available to the public anytime the Historical Society is open.
“Due to the virus, we are limited to the hours of Tuesday and Friday afternoons from 1-4p.m.” Tackett said.
“People don’t realize that yes, there’s internet and digital ways to research family genealogy but it doesn’t really compare to the time and thought that so many elders have put into their own personal record-keeping – there’s so much and I wish we had more.”