My road trip this quarter (on 20 August 2011 to be exact) was to join other family historians for an orientation of the fourth largest genealogy library in the United States — the Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research.
Let me say that this wasn’t my first visit to the Clayton Library. Before United States census records became searchable online, I used this library’s census records and microfilm readers whenever I was in H-town visiting family and following up on research leads. So this orientation gave me an opportunity to gain a better understanding on how to use the vast resources and research materials housed at this facility. After a couple of hours in this place, I totally understand why Family Tree Magazine named it, “one of the 9 genealogy libraries you need to visit before you die (July 2008).”
So what are some of the resources available to genealogists at the Clayton Library? WHEW . . . LOTS! What began as a separate collection at the Houston Public Library in 1921, is now one of the best genealogical libraries in the United States! With regards to the library’s collection, genealogist will find:
- census records for all states on microfilm from 1790-1930
- Soundex/Miracode indexes for 1880, 1900-1920, and some 1930
- city directories
- birth and death indexes
- estate records
Their Notable Collections consist of:
- the Draper Manuscript Collection, with guides
- a substantial collection of Records of Ante-Bellum Southern Plantations on microfilm
- one of the largest microfilmed collections in the country of the Papeles Procedentes de Cuba (Cuban Papers)
- a collection of documents generated by the Spanish government for the Mississippi Valley, Gulf Coast, and East and West Florida
To learn more about the various resources available at this library, feel free to download the Clayton Library Collection Summary Sheet I have linked below:
Clayton Library Collection Summary
Just across the driveway from the main library building is the Clayton House, a three story Georgian style home that was built in 1916. This house was the home of businessman and statesman, William Clayton and his wife Susan Ada Vaughn Clayton, until 1958. Then it was deeded to the City of Houston for library purposes. As the Houston Public Library’s genealogy collection grew, it was eventually moved to the Clayton House, which was located in Houston’s historic Museum District at 5300 Caroline Street in 1968. Once the main building was completed in 1988, the library’s entire collection was moved there and is where it remains today. Now that renovations of the Clayton House is complete, it’s open to the public and is a partner of the Family History Library (FHL) of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) in Salt Lake City. Clayton Library users are able to order microfilm and other materials directly from the Family History Library and view them on-site at the Clayton Library.
Library Hours are:
M Closed | T 10-6 | W 10-8 | Th 10-6 | F 10-5 | Sa 10-5 | Su Closed
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