Interview with Joy Hennig, Worcester Collection Librarian

I had the great pleasure to speak with Joy Hennig, the Worcester Collection librarian, a couple of weeks ago, and here are some of the highlights of our conversation.  I wasn’t able to speak with her as much as I would have liked (because I had other people to talk to and because I had to return to the job that pays the bills) but I hope to speak to her again another time.

Joy Hennig was a history major and focused on archives for her MLS. She moved into mainstream libraries, and was a Young Adult librarian for many years before coming back to archives, when this position opened.

Her job involves two major components:

  1. Local History: government documents, town histories; the primary focus is the City of Worcester, followed by Worcester County, Massachusetts, etc.
  2. Genealogy: databases, collections of historic birth records, census records back to 1790 on microfilm

Joy offers a lot of classes about researching genealogy, like Genealogy and the Internet and It’s All Relative (an introduction to the library’s resources).  When I spoke with her, she’d offered a class called Crossing the Pond, which was specifically about immigration and naturalization research, and which drew over twenty people.

In October 2009, the library hosted SWEGDEN 2009 Research Day, which was devoted to research into Swedish ancestors.  This was in addition to the many classes she teaches on resources specific to other ethnicities (Finding Your French-Canadian Ancestors, Finding Your New England Yankee Ancestors).  This year, she’ll be offering a program specifically about Irish ancestors, as some of those materials can present a lot of challenges for researchers.

She especially enjoys preparing for new classes, because (as those of us who have taught know all too well) the best way to learn material is to have to prepare to teach it to someone else.

Digitization of Worcester Historical Data
One of my special interests was what plans, if any, they had for digitizing any of the records in the Worcester Room. Joy said that many of the print materials have been digitized (though not necessarily by the Worcester Public Library).

If she had her choice, the top two collections she would like digitized would be:

  1. A publication called Worcester Magazine, published by the Board of Trade from 1902-1913. (See here for an example of the publication.)  Joy also noted that some of the pictures in Digital Treasures come from that Worcester Magazine, like this picture of Union Station, this of students at the Worcester Art Museum, and this of the original WPL.
  2. Their one-of-a-kind clipping file.

(So, if anyone’s got a friend at the Google Libraries project, or has a burning yen to digitize magazines, let Joy know!)

5 thoughts on “Interview with Joy Hennig, Worcester Collection Librarian

  1. Jeff Barnard says:

    If it wasn’t for the genealogy records available at the Worcester Public Library, census records for Worcester, specifically, I never would’ve been able to “crack the case” on one of our family’s longest standing historical inaccuracies… and end up being able to subsequently trace my Mother’s family tree all the way back to the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

    • Nicole says:

      My husband is very blessed, because he has an uncle who does all the genealogical research in the family. So — he gets all the benefit with none of the work.

      I should say that I am, for the most part, very jealous of those who can do this kind of research. Also — I think the amount of resources (both records-wise and human-capital-wise) the library has are nothing short of remarkable.

      Both sides of my family come from areas in Europe and Asia where the records are probably limited. It’s neat having a great-grandfather who lived a semi-nomadic lifestyle, but that doesn’t lend itself to great genealogical records. (Also, I have at least one ancestor who may have come to this country because he killed someone and was escaping the possibility of a blood feud. So, sometimes it’s better NOT to know.)

  2. t-traveler says:

    2 new wpl links of interest

    Suggest a Title for Purchase

    emial the library board president

  3. t-traveler says:

    some of those Worcester Magazine, published by the Board of Trade front pages are on display on the concourse from the unIon station garage to Union Station Grand Hall

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