Genealogical Society of Monroe County, MI

Betty Gay Collection

The Betty Gay Collection is housed in GSMC's archives which is located on the second floor of the Monroe County Historical Museum, 126 S. Monroe Street.  We are open on Wednesdays from 10:00 am - 5:00 pm.  Other hours can be arranged with our archivist, Jim Ryland.   Be sure to stop by and check it out.  There are 37 binders filled with research material on Monroe County families!
When Helen “Betty” Gay’s obituary appeared in the September 2009  Monroe Evening News, it mentioned that she was an avid genealogist. I had never met Betty, but I think the term “avid genealogist” is an understatement.  Betty Gay LOVED genealogy!  She actually died while sitting at her computer working on her research.
I have a great appreciation for her love of genealogy and her amazing dedication.  Betty generated THOUSANDS of family group sheets, copied more obituaries than you can shake a stick at,  spent hours and hours tracking down Monroe County families, and, more importantly, donated all of this research to our society!  
Betty did more than research her OWN family.  She researched hundreds of Monroe County families.  She wrote letters to family members, dug through the cemetery books, and waded through church books and courthouse records to ferret out these people.  Betty researched from Aben to Ziegler and a whole lot of families in between.  At last count, there were about 5000 entries in our index!  There are many more names that appear on those charts.  Some are very likely YOUR family members too!  I found my great-grandparents, a few former neighbors and some classmates in Betty’s files.  I am sure that if you have Monroe County families, some of them are in Betty’s files.
Betty never stopped researching.  She added to her research binders even after she donated them to our society.  She came into our archives and either switched out binders or added sheets to them regularly.  After she died in August of 2009, her husband contacted our society to let us know that she wanted us to have all of her files and notes– 8 boxes worth!  It has taken several months to go through these boxes and organize the files; some contained just slips of paper and research notes, but there were also hundreds more family group sheets, pedigree charts and copied obituaries to be added to the already burgeoning collection of binders, lovingly referred to as “The Betty Gay Collection” which sits in a place of honor on the top of our bookshelves in the archives. 
If you have not checked Betty’s collection for your Monroe County families I urge you to stop by the GSMC archives to check it out.  We have made that task even easier by creating an index for every head of household and his wife for every family group sheet and pedigree chart that is in Betty’s collection. 
I am sure that Betty would be happy to know that her collection has been indexed to make it more accessible to our members.
A special thank-you goes out to Lucy Pitcher, Judy Carr, Doris Blessing Loretta Dunham and Nancy Mattox for typing and proof-reading the index for Betty’s collection.