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FamilyTrackers Blog

15 May 2006

Other Sources of Genealogy Information

Sometimes I find information in the most unexpected places. We visited the Telephone Pioneer Museum in Albuquerque yesterday just to see some of the history there and perhaps a memorial plaque for my father-in-law. It is a great museum with tons of old telephone equipment like phones, switchboards, and hole diggers. It is located in the original telephone office built in 1906. My father-in-law, Thomas George Hinde, was employed by Mountain Bell from about 1935 until he retired in about 1971 or so. Naturally, we had an interest.

What we didn't know was that the museum has gathered data on thousands of people who worked at the phone company over the years including photo albums donated by retired employees, telephone books for the entire state from the early day of telephones, and notebooks from people in the field who were building lines. This information is available to interested genealogists who visit the museum and pay the $1 suggested donation – a bargain price. I encourage you to give more if you can.

The museum volunteers are retired phone company employees and their spouses. They have a great deal of information about the items in the museum and general history of the telephone industry. Just like genealogy society volunteers, this museum is staffed with the best people who will do anything to help you get the most from your experience. You may have to ask about the archives area since it is located in a separate area from the main part of the museum.
It would have been better to spend an entire day, but we only had a few hours to browse the information there. We had a good digital camera which has become a necessary tool for any library visit. Gi Gi who volunteers at the museum showed us the right photo albums to search and we quickly found nice photos of Thomas George Hinde. My daughter found someone there named William Hinde who we knew as 'Uncle Bill' and we had no pictures of him. Then on the very next page was a photo of Uncle Bill and his wife. So that made a great connection for us and we plan to return and spend more time.

The museum is located at 110 4th Street NW, Albuquerque, NM in the downtown area. This is a nice area with lots of activity and the parking is surprisingly affordable – I saw available parking for less than $3. Bring your camera and plan to spend the day exploring the area.
Overall, it was a great trip and I recommend that you look to this and other non-traditional sources for genealogy information that is bound to be high quality like . . .

Masonic lodge, Odd Fellows, and other membership groups like the New Mexico Masons at http://nmmasons.org/
Employer information like railroad associations, union records, etc. like the New Mexico Steam Locamotive and Historical Society located at http://www.nmrhs.org/
Educational institutions like University of New Mexico located at http://www.unm.edu/

If you Go . . .
  • Take your camera and tripod. Copy facilities are not available and materials must remain in the museum.
  • Plan to eat in one of the excellent restaurants near the museum. If you have never tasted authentic New Mexico food, it's a real treat - nothing like TexMex, California fresh, or anything else. Be prepared to make decisions about chili (red or green), tortillas (corn or flour), color of corn tortillas (blue or yellow) and don't worry about the sopapillas - they will come with your meal automatically. My recommendation - one red and one green, corn, and blue respectively.
  • Plan on at least an hour to see the museum and all day if you plan to look at their archives.
  • Don't forget to thank the volunteers there. There are some wonderful people there who are delighted to help you with questions.
  • Make a donation. If you are in a position to help the museum, make a generous donation to help them.

The Telephone Museum of New Mexico is located on the 4th street pedistrian mall between Copper and Central in downtown Albuquerque. The phone number there is 505-842-2937 and they are open Monday through Friday from 10:00 am until 2:00 pm. Hours have changed in recent years and you should probably check before you go and definitely check if you have a large group who wants to see the museum.