NORMAN — Twenty-three years ago, on July 15, 1990, the Cleveland County Genealogical Society (CCGS) members moved into a storefront on north Flood Avenue.
Now with a collection full to the brim, the Genealogical Society celebrated its 23rd anniversary and welcomed the community to explore its collection and archives in an open house Sunday.
Agnes McVeigh Brooks served as the library’s first director. Over the years, the library has changed locations.
Currently at 1119 E. Main St., the library houses almost 5,000 books and publications containing information about Cleveland County, various other Oklahoma counties, the Twin Territories, the state of Oklahoma and Native American tribes.
CCGS board member Mary Lewis, who has been with the library 10 years, said the library was built from donations from Genealogical Society members and the community.
She said the collection has become so large that the board can be selective as to what it puts on the shelves.
“We started with boxes on wooden shelves,” Lewis said. “It’s exciting we can be so selective now. We’ve come a long way.”
Lewis said a majority of the board members do not have family in Cleveland County, but the Genealogical Society is important to them because they are helping community members.
“We’re paying it forward to those in search of their history and family members from Cleveland County,” Lewis said. “It’s important because the county records are where you go when you’re hunting for information. They contain the little details of our lives.”
Recalling one of the her most memorable moments while working for the Genealogical Society, Lewis spoke of a man who walked to the library to find out information about his Native American ancestors.
“He found out his relatives were on a list of Cherokee freedmen. All because of our records here,” Lewis said. “When someone finds what they’re looking for, it’s as big a thrill for us (CCGS members) as it is for them.”
Today, the Genealogical Society will host a talk about “Original Cleveland County Records in the CCGS Archives” at 12:15 p.m.
The Library is open from 1 to 5 p.m. every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
For more information about the Cleveland County Genealogical Society Library and Archives, visit rootsweb.com/okccogs, call 701-2100 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.