Saturday, January 12, 2013

Do You Want To Know A Secret??

One of the aims of The Prism is to share ideas and information that might be useful, or at least of interest, to others.  The post on The ABC was an example.  Those of you who knew about the famous Rehoboth Carpenter family genealogy, might have learned for the first time that it is now available on the Internet.  Those of you who never heard of The ABC, now have a possible resource to use if you have New England roots in the period 1638 – 1898.  THIS post is about a secret history and genealogy resource that sits in the heart of historic Leesburg, Virginia – and you must promise not to tell anyone else!  :-)

The 254-year-old Town of Leesburg, Virginia is the county seat of Loudoun County.  It is located about 33 miles northwest of Washington, DC.   The historic downtown area of Leesburg has been referred to as one of the most picturesque and best preserved town centers in Virginia.  It has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1970.

Within very easy walking distance of the historic center of Leesburg and such highlights as the Loudoun County Courthouse, Dodona Manor (the restored home of 5-star General, Secretary of State and Nobel Peace Prize winner George C. Marshall), and numerous restaurants and shops sits a gem known as the Thomas Balch Library.  Thomas Balch is a wonderful little history and genealogy library now owned and operated by the Town of Leesburg.  It has served Leesburg in various forms and locations since 1907.

Thomas Balch Library, Leesburg, Virginia

There is no public entrance from the street-side "front" door.
Parking is provided in the rear where the public entrance is found.

While the collections in the library understandably focus on Loudoun County and the history of the region and Virginia, there are also extensive genealogy materials to assist with research into many other geographic areas.  The collections also include impressive resources covering the American Civil War.  The library is a designated Underground Railroad research site. 

The public entrance from the off-street parking lot.
Current library hours of operation. 
The library has been modernized inside a beautiful historic structure and is equipped with several computer research terminals having access to on-line resources such as the New England Historic Genealogical Society databases and a long list of other such resources.  The staff is extremely helpful and knowledgeable.

Photos of the entrance lobby and looking toward the public entrance.
Anyone with an interest in genealogy and history who lives near Leesburg, or who has reason to visit or travel through the area, should be sure to add the Thomas Balch Library to the top of the list of places to stop.  Allow yourself several hours to scratch the surface of all the Balch library has to offer -- and then allow yourself a few more hours to explore historic Leesburg and take in a nice meal.  Better yet, plan a weekend visit and stay in an area bed and breakfast so that during your off-genealogy hours you can drive the roads of rural western Loudoun in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains and tour the vineyards in Loudoun’s burgeoning wine country!  

BUT REMEMBER – don’t tell anyone else about this secret history and genealogy resource.  It is too valuable to be shared haphazardly!  :-)

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Copyright 2013,  John D. Tew
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