For 40 years, Joyce Poole has traced her family’s history.
She has saved the books, journals and magazines she collected during her research. Some of those books contained her own research and writings.
She has donated her entire collection to the Augusta-Richmond County Public Library.
In all, there are about 185 items, including issues of the North Carolina Genealogical Society Journal from 1984 to 1998 and issues of the Magazine of Virginia Genealogy from 1984 to 2014.
There are also files of research on nearly 20 families from Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia.
“Mostly (they were) books that had to do with genealogy,” Poole said. “I had just collected for years the books that I needed. I thought, ‘Well, if they don’t have these books at the library they certainly need them, because any genealogist that’s going to work in Georgia will need these books.’”
Several of the books she donated are now out of print and nearly impossible to obtain, she said.
Poole began tracing her family’s history after her father died in 1976.
“It’s amazing how you suddenly get interested in the family history when everybody dies and there’s nobody to ask anymore,” she said.
She began researching her maiden name – Perkerson – and learned that her family came from Atlanta. She contacted descendants of Angus Perkerson, who she knew was her ancestor and was the editor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Magazine. From them, she learned that another ancestor, Dempsey Perkerson, operated a mill that ground corn meal and eventually was bought out by Martha White.
“It is a lot of fun for genealogists to find these things,” she said. “It was a great deal of fun for me.”
She helped her husband, Tom Poole, trace his ancestry and the couple learned that the land he grew up on in Atlanta was part of the site of the Battle of Atlanta during the Civil War.
“I found out that my great grandfather’s army unit was fighting right there on the land where I lived that many years later,” Tom Poole said. “We used to find Confederate bullets in the dirt.”
On July 23, Tina Monaco and Russell Liner from the library made a second and final trip to Poole’s home in Brandon Wilde to pick up a file cabinet filled with research files, the last of her collection.
“This is an exceptional donation,” said Monaco, who is the library’s historian and is in charge of the library’s Georgia Heritage Room.
The materials will be kept in a climate- and humidity-controlled environment and will be a valuable resource for area genealogists.
The library doesn’t purchase family histories, focusing instead on acquiring other resources genealogists use. For instance, it offers access to The Augusta Chronicle archives from 1792, online databases, microfilm, and CD-ROMs.
“That’s why donating the family histories is going to be really great because it’s going to expand our holdings in that area,” said Russell Liner, head of public services.
Poole, who is 78, said she is reaching the age where she wants to be sure that her wishes are carried out with regard to her belongings.
“Living here at Brandon Wilde, we see what can happen to people so quickly. They go from good health to maybe having a stroke, and they’re unable to manage what happens to their remains, to what they have left,” she said. “I thought I’d better go ahead and be sure that this came into good hands before I get to the point where I can’t tell people what I want to do.
“I’m delighted to have a place to give all my books to so that other people will be able to do the same thing that I did.”