Mostly, these are facilities I’ve used frequently for my personal research. I will update this post from time to time as I find exceptional ones. I haven’t included County Court Houses, although I have used them extensively. Their policies change frequently, so call before you go. Remember that county employees are there to serve the citizens of the county, not genealogists. Be respectful and courteous and DO NOT tell them your family history. They don’t have time to listen and probably would not be interested.
The City of Jacksonville‘s Main Library on Laura Street has an extensive genealogical collection, but you would never suspect it from looking at their website http://jpl.coj.net/lib/branches/main.html . Thanks to a knowledgeable staffer, I found a long-sought record. It’s a lovely place in a beautiful building – no vagrants on the genealogy floor during any of my visits.
Tampa‘s John F. Germany Public Library on Ashley Drive http://www.hcplc.org/hcplc/locations/jfg/ has a wonderful library collection. The facilities include state-of-the art computer-scanners that produce excellent images from microfilm and can be saved to a USB drive. Other research locations have similar equipment, but those here are the best I’ve ever used. The staff is knowledgeable and helpful. It’s bright, airy and clean – no vagrants during any of my visits.
Orlando has a large genealogical collection on the fourth floor of its downtown library http://www.ocls.info/. Researching there is uncomfortable due to the vagrants who hang out in the research area, drawn by the collection of current newspapers and periodicals and abundant seating. Why the library is unwilling to find another location for the periodicals is incomprehensible. There is a small cafe in the lobby when you need a break. The parking fees in the City of Orlando are exhorbitant at $2 per hour. Street parking is free on Sundays and the library is open on Sunday afternoon. It could be a great place, but it isn’t because of these factors.
The Orange County Regional History Museum in Orlando <www.thehistorycenter.org > has created a very useful finding aid for their closed stacks collection. The link to list is on their website: http://thehistorycenter.org/research or http://thehistorycenter.org/sites/default/files/page/OCRHC_Genealogy_Resources.pdf.
The Family Search Center at 45 East Par Street in Orlando is staffed by knowledgeable volunteers eager to help new and experienced researchers. A number of subscription websites, such as Fold3.com and Ancestry.com can be accessed free of charge on their computers. They have a good library of printed and microform material. If you live in the area, be sure to visit. Call ahead to confirm dates and times the Center is open (407-895-4832) or email at firstname.lastname@example.org . http://www.familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/Orlando_Florida_Family_History_Center
Bartow County has two excellent facilities in which to research and both are staffed with knowledgeable and helpful employees/volunteers. Both are in Cartersville: Bartow County History Museum Archives <http://bartowhistorymuseum.org/research/> and the Etowah Valley Historical Society Library http://evhsonline.org/ . Their records go back to the county’s early years and many are not availble elsewhere.
Bibb County has the Washington Memorial Library. Its Genealogical and Historical Room is amazing <http://www.co.bibb.ga.us/library/GH.htm>. The extent and depth of its collection will keep you coming back. The staff were very busy during my visits, but were eager to help. I’ve since had excellent response when copies of specific records were requested by mail. Their charges are very reasonable.
Cobb County, has an excellent “Georgia Room” in the Marietta Library http://www.cobbcat.org/GaRm-1.html . On all my visits, the room was short staffed, but the few there were friendly and helpful when your turn came. Response time to requests for specific record copies by mail was very good from about 2006-2010, then became very slow – up to six months. I finally gave up. It may be better now.
Gwinnett County has the library of the Gwinnett County Historical Society in Lawrenceville <http://www.gwinnetths.org/> . This is another excellent research facility with an extensive collection of books and old records. The staff was very helpful during my one visit. I look forward to doing further research there.
The Georgia State Archives in Morrow, Clayton County, Georgia, is a great place to research http://www.sos.ga.gov/archives/. After almost closing, the State of Georgia University System has taken over and the legislature has increased funding so that the facility is open Wednesday through Saturday as of this date (07 April 2014). Their excellent online resource “Virtual Vault” http://cdm.sos.state.ga.us:8888/ has a lot of material, including tax digests, death certificates, and confederate pension applications. There is also a wonderful collection of historic photographs.
Rutherford County is the home of the Genealogical Society of Old Tryon County, which has an outstanding library in Forest City. <http://www.visitnc.com/listings/view/33080 >. Unfortunately, they don’t have much of an online presence, but Alice Bradley and her staff are knowledgeable and helpful when you call or visit. They also respond quickly to requests for specific record copies and have researchers on staff and/or volunteers who can be hired for reasonable rates. The library’s holdings concentrate on the current counties that formerly made up the now defunct “Tryon County,” but they also have information for other North Carolina counties and southern states. Also, see <http://www.ncgenweb.us/tryon/> for details on the Revolutionary War-era Tryon County.