"I always tell people be careful climbing that tree because you are going to find out some things you may not want to know."
-Kris Mooney, volunteer at Irish Emigration Library
The Irish Emigration Library started with two tables and one big book of names in a tent at Irish Fest. 20 years later, it's housed at the Irish Cultural and Heritage Center at 21st and Wisconsin Avenue in Milwaukee.
Sponsored by the Irish Genealogical Society of Wisconsin, the Irish Emigration Library is free and open to the public. It houses a unique collection of genealogical information not found anywhere else in Wisconsin. Books, periodicals, maps, microfilm and city directories are just a few of the resources found at the library to assist you in tracking your family history. Perhaps the most important resource at the Library is Jane Maher (pictured above), Director of the Irish Emigration Library and founder of the Irish Genealogical Society of Wisconsin. Founded in 1999, Jane and a small group of volunteers will help you trace your family history. "You wouldn't believe the info written up in an obituary, it's amazing," says Maher. "They give all the names of the relatives, the pallbearers and you can see the relationships there." The staff also uses all sorts of materials to help fill in your family tree, one generation at a time.
One of those unique materials is the missing friend volumes. "This was before cell phones. If you lost your brother when you came over, you lost them," says Mooney. "The only thing to do was to run an ad in the Catholic newspaper."
More about the Irish Emigration Library sponsored by the Irish Genealogical society of Wisconsin at the Irish Cultural and Heritage Center is found online at www.ichc.net