Yesterday, I had the opportunity to visit the Bell Research Center, a wonderful resource for Northwest Georgia researchers.
Established in 2004, the Bell Research Center is located in the Historic Cumming School at 100 School Street in Cumming, Forsyth County, GA, in a room adjoining the Historical Society. The Center houses a large collection of genealogical and historical publications, primarily for Georgia, North and South Carolina, and Virginia, but for other areas as well.
Of special interest is the collection of Civil War books occupying one segment of the floor-to-ceiling shelving. The Center also has nice sections of research volumes for other wars, including, but not limited to, the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.
A complete index of research materials is available online.
There are some drawbacks to researching at the Bell Center, including the current lack of a microfilm reader which renders their microfilm collection unusable. For Forsyth County researchers, this shouldn’t be a problem, as the Center is within easy walking distance of the Forsyth County Courthouse, Administration Building, and Cumming City Hall.
The Bell Center is only open four hours per day during the week, which is a drawback for those who travel to visit their collection. It is open most of the day on Saturdays, however, and I would encourage out-of-town researchers to take advantage of these longer hours.
Finally, the Bell Center does not necessarily have an updated collection of Georgia publications. For instance, they have not yet obtained Paul K. Graham’s works on the 1805 and 1807 Georgia Land Lotteries, Georgia Land Lottery research, or his Atlas of East and Coastal Georgia Watercourses and Militia Districts, all of which are must-haves for Georgia researchers of those time periods and localities. The collection of published volumes for Georgia counties is also not complete, although most counties are well-represented, particularly with older, hard-to-find publications.
The Bell Center is only eight years old. Even considering its short life, the Center has an incredibly well-rounded collection of publications useful to genealogical and historical researchers for Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia. I’m certain that given time and the support of the research community, its collection will grow to become one of the most outstanding in the region, a feat the Center is already close to obtaining.