Recently I received a message on my home answering machine from someone who was not trying to sell me something. That is a novelty in itself, especially this time of year. The caller said that he understood that my father had been a pastor at a rural Wisconsin church in the 1960s and may have officiated at a relative’s wedding. Might I have any photos of weddings that my father may have taken and saved? He was right about my late father being a pastor at that time and place, and he was a bit of a shutterbug, but I was curious about what made this gentleman think I would have wedding photos of someone I did not know. As a long-time member of the library’s Reference staff, I was even more intrigued by how he made the connection to me.
After the call, I dug around in a closet and found trays of 35mm slides, isolating one tray that my mother’s carefully written notes said it included the right time period and, lo and behold, also included several weddings. I phoned my mystery caller and explained what I found, and that while individual slides were not identified, I’d be happy to send the slides to him. That said, I asked how he tracked me down. He said he contacted the historical society for the county in which my father’s church resided. They had a historical list of pastors that had served in their county, which included my father’s name for the right time period. With a little more Internet research, my caller located my father’s obituary, which mentioned me as an Eau Claire resident. After a little more digging he had my phone number, all the while hoping he had the right person.
Now, my point is not that everyone is on the Internet in some way; we all know that. Instead I want to remind our readers that your public library right here in Eau Claire has a wealth of local history resources, many of them available digitally from our website. Whether you are a genealogist, or just someone thoughtful enough to help your grandmother relive some happy memories, we may be able to help you in your search.
Here a few examples of digitized resources, available from our website:
Eau Claire City Directories (1880-1923)
Eau Claire Historical Photographs
Eau Claire Area Histories (including business directories, county histories, and early plat books)
Eau Claire High School Yearbooks (1900-1923)
Eau Claire Obituary and Cemetery Indexes
Newspaper Archive: Eau Claire Newspapers (1857-1994)
The library has many other resources, including some that require a trip to the library, such as city directories and yearbooks to the current day, as well as Eau Claire newspapers from most years on microfilm. Be sure to ask at Information & Reference for help. Are your missing family photos out there somewhere?