New resources available for genealogists

Here is excellent news for genealogists in the region.

Tapping into the enormous resources of the Northeast Pennsylvania Genealogical Society is now easier than ever, thanks to the new, improved and more user-friendly website. Find out at

First, let’s remember that many resources are only available on-site and that on-site visits are still limited to 30-minute sessions and are for members only. This is not a hindrance, however, since the website gives instructions for registering and lists the remote search rates. Of course, the website can tell you if the company library actually has the materials you need.

Let’s take a look at some of the most recent resources.

What could be more appropriate at this time of year than to look through old high school and college yearbooks to find out if and when an ancestor graduated and to get a picture of that ancestor as a student?

Well, the company has added more since I last mentioned them. The collection, covering high schools in most northeastern Pennsylvania counties, is impressive, ranging from a dozen yearbooks in the case of the long-closed Ashley High School, to 50 for the most recent GAR (Wilkes- Closed off).

Also recently added are cemetery records from the Hazleton area and others from the former “Mountain Echo” newspaper which served the Shickshinny area. Luzerne County tax records have been converted from microfilm to PDF, and Luzerne County Mining Reviews (1910-1999) now total over 93,000 names.

For more details on these and other regional resources, visit the company’s website at

Here you’ll find the different ways to contact the company library and keep up to date with new documents that might be exactly what you’re looking for.

Agnès and genealogy: The flooding and destruction wrought by Tropical Storm Agnes in June 1972 is receiving sad recognition this month, 50 years after the disaster that devastated so many communities in Wyoming’s Valley. One implication for genealogists is the subsequent movement of so many people to new regional addresses, some temporary and some permanent.

If you are looking for local relatives, keep in mind that many existing homes in northeast Pennsylvania have been destroyed or so badly damaged that the residents (ourselves and their families) have had to live in parks at regional trailers set up by the federal government or find other temporary accommodations. This sad fact, and the subsequent move of so many people to new permanent addresses, is traceable through city directories.

Don’t be surprised to see these and other address changes within a year or two of the flood.

You might also find that the family and ancestors’ longtime home is listed in directories as “flood damaged,” meaning it could well have been deemed unsalvageable and demolished within a year or two.

Locally, the best sources for these directories are the Luzerne County Historical Society (membership-based) and the Osterhout Free Library, both located on South Franklin Street in Wilkes-Barre. If you’re out of the area, look up their websites and consider some research.

Census News: A week ago, about 70% of names in the 1950 U.S. Census were reviewed by volunteers, reports FamilySearch. The purpose of the review is to verify and correct names and related data. Some 147,000 volunteers worked on the project.

FamilySearch is one of the places a genealogist can go to access the census. Others include the Census Bureau itself. If all goes well, according to the organization, the project should be completed by the end of this month.


Tom Mooney is a genealogy columnist for The Times Leader. Join it at [email protected]

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