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The best kept secret is at the library

By Carol Phares

Picayune Item 

I have a secret. It’s the best-kept secret in Pearl River County and possibly in South Mississippi. The secret is what is housed in the little glassed-in room at Crosby Memorial Library. It is alternately called “The Local History Room”, or “The Mississippi History Room”, or “The Genealogy Room”. All these descriptive names are accurate. The little glassed-in room at the library is full of treasures and houses one of the best public library genealogy collections for a community of our size.

The vertical file itself is full of information about local people, famous and infamous, the communities and churches. The wealth of the vertical files come from donations – things people come across as they are cleaning out attics or going through old family keepsakes that they think is important to area history and that others might enjoy viewing.

Do you want a fun, cheap hobby? Try genealogy. This glassed-in room is the perfect beginning. And it’s free. Lots of books about how to begin grace the shelves. It also holds books that contain information about how and where to write for vital records of each state. Invaluable family histories are stored in this room. Many people have written their family genealogy in the form of a book and donated a copy to the library. These can be found by searching the card catalog. A subject search for the family name will bring up anything the library owns. This search can be done from within the library, or if you have Internet connection, can be done at home by going to the library’s webpage, www.pearlriver.lib.ms.us and clicking on Eliza Jane (the card catalog).

To help you along your genealogical journey are state census records divided by county and cemetery records for this county. Some families in our community hail back to the Mayflower. Much information about those families can be found. Even if a family is not from South Mississippi, a wealth of information can be found about other states.

This collection is not complete. I don’t think even the Library of Congress has a complete collection. But, there is so much in the little glassed-in room that you can get a good start on your journey.

This room is for you even if you are not interested in genealogy because it houses important works by local authors, such as Grandpa Grady Thigpen’s books, Charles C. Bolton’s book, “William F. Winter and the New Mississippi” and many other publications. Much history about Picayune and the county can be found here. A copy of the Mississippi Code is housed in this room, as well as Polk City Directories.

One of the neatest things I think this room holds are old high school yearbooks from Picayune High School and Pearl River Central High School. There are not nearly enough, many years are missing because the library does not buy them, but relies on donations from the public. They are fun to look through and “remember when.”

Another fun way to spend an afternoon is to use our microfilm reader to read old issues of the Picayune Item.

There are some real surprises! Do you remember eggs costing 2 cents a dozen? Or find out what else was happening the day you were born.

This listing of what is in the little glassed-in room at Crosby Memorial Library doesn’t do the collection in the room justice.

Come on by and spend an afternoon perusing the shelves. You’ll be glad you did.

But, be warned. It has proved to be addictive to some members of the community!