A Day in the Life of a Researcher by Linda Balk

My day, most of the time, starts at 10:00 AM when the Renville County Historical Society & Museum (RCHS) opens, though on days when I have a deadline to meet or have a lot of research to do I am at the Museum at 8:00 AM. A typical day starts with checking the emails at info@renvillecountyhistory.com to see if there are any new genealogy requests., I print them out and start my ‘hunt’. There are several places I can search for answers:
  • Family files – RCHS has 19 file drawers filled with snippets of information, newspaper clippings, family histories, wedding & birth announcement and obituaries on Renville County related families. These files are arranged alphabetically by surname.
  • Early tax records – RCHS has three file cabinets filled with the tax records of the late 1860’s early 1870’s tax records. Not all years are there.
  • Church records – RCHS has files on the Renville County churches and some are gold mines of information and others not so much. RCHS is always trying to increase its information.
  • Microfilm – RCHS & the Renville County Genealogical Society (RCGS), based at the Renville Public Library, have microfilm on nearly all of the newspapers that can be found for Renville County. The microfilm collection includes various township records. RCHS & RCGS are continually adding to their microfilm collections. RCHS has hard copies of the Renville County newspaper after 2009 when the Minnesota Historical Society stopped making microfilm.
  • Photos – Both facilities have family photos, unfortunately not all of them are identified. RCHS has 3 binders of unidentified photographs, stop on by and help us identify these lost precious souls.
  • Computer – I have accounts on several sites such as ancestry.com, archives.com, fold3.com, newspapers.com and know of many other free sites that I can use for my ‘hunt’.
  • Books – Both facilities have county history books, cemetery books and other books to help glean information of families and the history of the area when they lived in the county.
  • Notebooks – Both facilities have notebooks on Renville County Servicemen which we are constantly updating as families share their information. If you have any servicemen in your family we would love to have more information on these wonderful people.
If a visitor stops in the Museum to do research, I do all I can do to assist them on their ‘hunt’. Sometimes I can help them find things on their family although there are times when the information is just not there to find. This is especially true if they were only in the area for a short period of time.
Information on what you know about each of them will help me find your elusive ancestors easier. Please remember though that if your ancestors were passing through Renville County and only stayed for a few years it will be much harder to find any trace of them as they usually didn’t leave behind many fingerprints to find.
Bear in mind that I am a volunteer and only work a couple of days a week so it might take a while before I get back to you. I try to get to the research as soon as I can. Also, since I am in the Museum I am also doing research for the Museum. My research right now is finding out more about the servicemen of World War I. This is a huge undertaking that is taking a lot of my time. It started small and like a rolling snowball has grown into a large project of which we are excited about all the information we have located!
While the Museum closes at 4:00 PM, I am normally there until 5:00 PM cleaning up the mess that I made doing research whether it be on the computer or on my desk.
The Renville County Historical Society does charge for research, $20 per hour with a minimum 1/2 hour $10 search and RCHS charges for copies, postage and digital copies. Please refer to our website www.renvillecountyhistory.com for more information on our fees.
Visited the Share Your Story section on our website www.renvillecountyhistory.com.