The Vertical File

As interest in genealogy has expanded, libraries have accumulated letters, newspaper clippings, magazine articles, Bible records, research notes, charts, lineage society application forms – you name it, they probably have it. 

Librarians had no place to store this valuable information and would never consider throwing it away.  Consisting mainly of loose sheets of paper and brochures and pamphlets, these small items got lost on the bookshelves. 

With the creation of vertical files, the problem was solved.  Vertical files are simply labeled folders kept in filing cabinets.  Most libraries have them.  The experienced library researcher knows these folders are potential goldmines so they should be looked at regularly. 

Folder contents are usually not indexed or catalogued beyond a listing of folder titles.  The folders are alphabetized according to subject of the folder’s contents. 

In the Family History Room at the Lawton Public Library, the vertical files are kept in three cabinets.  The files are grouped by surname, Native American, place and miscellaneous subjects. 

If you are researching your family history, check with your nearest library to find out if it maintains a vertical file.  If so, that would be a good place to donate items that do not pertain to your family but might be a “treasure” to someone else. 

(This information was taken from Paul Follett’s column Tree Tracers published in the Lawton Constitution on August 4, 2008.)