The greatest Hidden Gem of the Stephenson County Genealogical Society (SCGS) is its home: The Frances Woodhouse History Room in the Freeport Public Library. Few genealogical societies have such a residence available to them and even fewer with the quality and resources the Frances Woodhouse History Room provides.
The Stephenson County Genealogical Society (SCGS) maintains a long-term partnership with the Freeport Public Library. SCGS supports the Freeport Public Library by providing volunteers to work in the Library’s Frances Woodhouse History Room six days a week. Additionally, many of the 4500-plus books, magazines and genealogical materials in the History Room stacks are from SCGS collections.
The Library provides SCGS file space to maintain our organization files, vital records, books-for-sale, and more. Additionally, the Library provides meeting space for SCGS monthly meetings and programs.
Beyond logistics, the Library and SCGS partner on genealogical- and area-history-specific programming and projects. The Genealogical Society has spent considerable volunteer hours indexing many of the materials in the stacks and has developed a surname card file and searchable database for the newspapers on microfilm in the Library’s collection. SCGS has provided financial support for Library programs such as 2017’s One Book, One Freeport and 2018’s Association of Lincoln Presenters’ Convention.
Manned by SCGS members most mornings and at least one afternoon, visitors are welcomed by knowledgeable volunteer staff to guide researchers through the 4,500 books and source materials—enough to make any genealogist or family historian giddy.
Spacious areas include five microfilm machines, including a computer microfilm device that allows the user to download images to a usb drive or email images to themselves. For History Room guests who are not residents of the City of Freeport, one-day computer passes are provided. Volunteers will assist those unfamiliar with the computer- or traditional-microfilm machines. For those who prefer to print newspaper articles, printers are available and copies are a mere 10¢ per page.
The History Room also provides guests with access to Ancestry Plus (world-wide) to offer immediate access to ancestor information. Ancestry Plus allows library users to access and print information but not save to an Ancestry tree; however, History Room computers also have Internet access so those who have trees on Ancestry may open their own accounts and save information while at the library.
The Frances Woodhouse History Room has one more gem to offer that likely makes it the most unique genealogical resource of any you will experience. Yes, just feet away from the door of the History Room is the Gallery Café that serves sandwiches, soups, salads, sweets and beverages. More time to spend in research!