White County Historical Society

White County Historical Society

Mary Smith Fay Genealogy Library


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A genealogy library was established by the society in 1988 by Charlene Shields and Janet Armstrong, with a strong assist by Janet Pritchett. It enjoyed the financial and personal sponsorship of Mary Smith Fay, C.G.

The library has a microfilm reader and printer, and several computers for research purposes. Carl and Lois Shelton's 54000 name database is available on the computer, and the files of Ira Shain (also at the Norris City Public Library), Margaret Land (also at the Carmi Public Library) and many other genealogists are available in hard-copy surname files and family history books. A listing of the of the library collection is now online, with a large file for A-L titles and surnames and M-Z titles and surnames. These are very large webpages, slow to load and may hang your system.

The library was originally housed in the first floor of the Ratcliff Inn, in office space originally used to generate income for the society.  In April 1999 it relocated to Carmi's old Carnegie Library, which was donated to the society by the City of Carmi in the fall of 1998, after a new city facility was completed.  The library is an attractive example of prairie-style architecture, designed in 1914 by Clifford Shopbell of Evansville. The library's email address is w.c.h.s-genealogy@hotmail.com, but the staff is still learning to use the net.

The Genealogy Library is accepting books, family histories, scrapbooks, or GEDCOM files which include White County connections. The computer files will be maintained in separate directories and not used for commercial purposes. Lecta Hortin is currently Library Director.

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Mrs. Fay passed away in June, 2000, and willed approximately 1,500 genealogy books to the library in Carmi, which doubled our collection. We have taken an inventory of all library materials and have published our catalog online. The library was renamed the MARY SMITH FAY GENEALOGY LIBRARY OF THE WHITE COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY in December 2000.

The genealogy library, at 203 N. Church,  is open Tuesday to Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., (except from just before Christmas to the first part of February), with a  paid librarian. We have email for the library, but can only give basic information in answer to queries over the internet. The hours are current as of September 18, 2005.

If you are planning to visit Carmi also visit the Carmi Public Library, which moved into a new building on West Main in 1998 has a nice genealogy area, and is open to 8 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 6 p.m. on Friday and 5 p.m. on Saturday.

The volunteer staff at the genealogy library will do research at the courthouse or library. They ask for a $10 per hour donation to the library plus 25 cents per page for copies. If you are interested, send a letter with your questions, a budget, and as much background information as you can provide to the address below.

Copies of a 2001 White County History and Families book, sponsored by the Carmi Kiwanis Club are available at the library for $59.95.

A new index to the 1883 county history is available at  http://everynameindex.com/WhiteCoIL.html 


Our address: Mary Smith Fay Library, White County Historical Society, P.O. Box 121, Carmi, IL, 62821. Our phone at the Carnegie Library is 618-382-8425.

We would also be interested in purchasing your books or materials about White County, and would be willing to photocopy church or cemetery records or family histories you may have. We do not purchase family histories, but invite you to donate a copy to the library as advertising to others.


Related Resources

Learn about the county seat: Carmi History Page.

Cindy's home town: Enfield Mule Day Home Page.

Read Margaret Land's history of Enfield: History of Enfield, Illinois.

Read the history of Enfield's Catholic Church: St. Patrick's Catholic Church.

Visit White County on the USGenweb project White County, Illinois Included are Charlene Shields' weekly genealogy columns from the CARMI TIMES, queries, a short history, and look-up information. Almost every US county has a page somewhere on the internet. Again, the best part of these pages is the ability of genealogists to make contact with each other, which only happens if you leave a query.  That site, like this one, is hosted on servers owned by Ancestry, Inc. and My Family, Inc., for-profit corporations which will set many cookies on your computer and send you ads for genealogy materials. The US GenWeb project and the RootsWeb Data Cooperative were originally set up as non-profit associations but could not generate sufficient funds to operate.

Here is the page for our neighbor to the south Gallatin County, Illinois

Don't forget the Rootsweb home page, where you can find a wealth of information and learn how to help: Rootsweb Home Page



Last updated 9/11/2010. Please send corrections and comments to cbconly@midwest.net Your help will be appreciated.