The Genealogy/History Collection
The Creel Richardson Room
By Jocelyn Rayford
The Creel Richardson Room of the Ozark-Dale County Public Library features an assortment of information about Dale County, the Wiregrass, and the southeastern states. This collection of documents and books is made available to any interested researcher or casual visitor. The only requirement for researchers or browsers is their signature on the sign-in sheet each and every time they enter the room.
Researchers are free to explore the shelves, open file drawers, and pull out any file of interest to them. Likewise, they are free to take down and look at any book of interest. Books can be signed out overnight only with permission of the research Librarian. Otherwise, books and documents may be taken out of the room only to be copied on the Library's copy machine. Many of the documents are copies of materials from the Claybank Membories, A History of Dale County, Alabama by Val L. McGee.
Rebecca Newsom Dobson (from Coffee County), Hazel Matthews Turner (African American) collections. Most of their materials have been copied and these copies are made available in the set of files at the entrance to the room. The files are arranged into the categories of TOPICAL and FAMILIES and are arranged alphabetically. Some information has been copied and made into notebooks that are arranged around the room for browsing and research.
Topical files include information about communities, churches, sporting events, civic organizations, businesses, professions, schools, hospitals, Creek affairs, WWI, II, etc. This Topical information is not only valuable when researching organizations or events; it is often helpful when researching families and persons.
Family files tend to be generic. Information about all persons with the same last name or same sounding last name is put together in the same file. Our files are constantly expanding as we get more papers from the collections copied and filed. Original documents are preserved in a vertical file in the librarian's office. These are only made available by the research librarian upon an approved request.
Locally made books containing compiled information about persons in the Wiregrass are kept together in the back section of the Genealogy/History Room. There are books about marriages, land purchases, cemeteries, town and community histories, church histories as well as Civil War information, according to counties. The SOUTHERN STAR collection, journal collection and scrapbook collection are also available in this back room. In the librarian's office are the Year Books, old telephone books, documents from poll taxes, WW I draft letters, etc. These will be made available upon request.
Most researchers like to browse through the collection of books about history and genealogy that have been compiled locally. They are generally about Dale County, Alabama, and other states. To locate a book quickly, the computer catalogue is available. Those unacquainted with its use should ask the librarian to assist. When materials are removed from a shelf or file cabinet WHILE BROWSING OR RESEARCHING, IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT MATERIALS ARE NOT RETURNED TO THE SHELF BY THE BROWSER OR RESEARCHER. Materials that are left on the table will be counted and put away by the librarian.
This collection includes many maps, obituaries, papers by Dale County 's original Historians such as W. L. Andrews, W. E. Mathews (a.k.a. Preston), etc. There are microfilms of the SOUTHERN STAR from 1867 through the 20th Century. Help is given to those using the microfilm machine.
The Room's greatest treat is free use of the expensive website, Ancestry.com. On this website, a researcher can find information about census data, death certificates, immigration, as well as family tree information in any state in the U.S. and abroad. This subscription is donated as a gift to the Library by the generosity of the Auman family. A staff member will assist or instruct any person wishing to use it.
The primary resource this research room offers is assistance. Assistance is gladly offered upon request. If help is needed for those who cannot visit the room, a researcher may contact the librarian by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. If further information is needed they may call Jocelyn Rayford, 334-774-5480, Tuesday through Friday.