Archives & Special Collections
Archivesand Special collections can be absolute treasure troves for genealogists. Archives are collections of historical documents or records providing information about a place, institution, or group of people. Special collections have characteristics that set them apart from other types of collections in libraries or archives. The University of Maryland states these special aspects may include: Rarity: books, manuscripts and other materials that are old, scarce or unique. Format: photographs, slides, films, audio recordings, maps, artworks, artifacts and other objects that need special handling. Comprehensiveness: accumulation of materials that individually are not unique, but collectively make up an important resource because of their relevance to a particular topic or individual.
These characteristics also mean that special collections are not readily replaceable and require a higher level of security and special preservation environments to insure their survival. In contrast to museum collections assembled for visual display, special collections focus on research as their primary mission. Thus, they complement general research collections and are often located in institutions that house both kinds of collections.
Special collections can be housed in Universities, public libraries, genealogical and historical societies, family history centers and museums. The University of Utah houses collections on Middle East records and the DUP library in Salt Lake City has information on the pioneers. BYU is indexing their collection of emigration registers and creating a wonderful database called the Immigrant Ancestors Project that can be accessed on the internet. BYU also has the Mormon Migration Project where you can read journals, autobiographies and see images of your immigrant ancestors.
Springville Historical Society has a collection of historic Springville newspapers. Payson has several wonderful collections in the Peteetneet Museum concerning the early settlers of the area. The Spanish Fork FHC has an extensive collection on the Icelanders who settled there. If you have South Sea Island ancestry, the Provo Sunset FHC has a permanent and growing collection from that area.
Local public libraries also house valuable collections. Many have vertical files on area families containing collections of journals, obituaries, newspaper clippings, family group sheets, books and other items donated by the families themselves. Many times there are area wide collections of books relating to the history and settlers of the locale. Libraries also have data bases pertinent to the vicinity and very often have subscriptions to websites with regional information.