After a year searching for a new home, the Maine Franco-American Genealogical Society in Auburn moved into a new location this summer.

It will officially open to the public this Saturday at 9 a.m. The Society’s research library is now located on the second floor at The Fortin Group Funeral Home, Cremation & Monument Services at 217 Turner St., in Auburn.

Volunteers and staff helped move the large collection of genealogical records, including 3,200 books containing documentation of marriages in New England and Canada and 3,100 CD/DVD data collections. They also moved census records dating back to 1607, a vast collection of obituaries cut from newspapers, periodicals and research computers.

“All the books were unpacked and a huge inventory was conducted on each of the items before placing them on shelves,” says Library Director Ronald DeBlois, a Lewiston resident and native.

Moving the genealogical collection became urgent when Auburn’s City Council voted to tear down the Great Falls Arts Center, also known as the old Edward Little High School, where the society’s materials were housed.

“Our move was challenging,” says DeBlois, who joined the society in the 1990s. “We moved everything. The library has gone through a huge transformation.”

Even as they moved rare data and books, more information was being added to the collection, he said.

“Our obituary files continue to grow, with 164 albums and files going back well beyond 1993,” he says. These obituaries are available to photocopy with the help of staff or volunteers on the premises.

Dublois says the society’s members will enjoy more work space with better lighting. Computers are available for researchers to access millions of online data files.

“The larger space makes it easier for researchers to concentrate,” says Dublois.

Genealogy researchers are often able to trace their families through numerous generations, even back to the first colonial settler in New France (Quebec). Some can track to where their family originated in France.

More space for researchers is helping to attract new members. “We recruited a few new members in the past few months, including some generous donors who provided help to the library as well.”

A friendly feature of the society is the courteous and personal service provided by staff and volunteers. One visit is usually enough to get people started digging into information about the four grandparents in every person’s family tree. Chances are pretty good other genealogy researchers have already documented some data about similar names, helping the novice to quickly build information that’s been validated by others.

Franco-Americans share particularly well documented genealogies, easily going back 10 or 11 generations for some families. This detail is the result of meticulously kept Roman Catholic Church statistical records recorded by the clergy and from the data reported by Quebec government notaries.

Recently, an impressive database containing the birth and death records of all the church parishes in Beauce County Quebec from 1738-1900 was completed by society Director Bob Chenard. He began the Beauce data project in 2004.

“This is a huge database,” he says. It includes first and last names, dates and places of birth, family groups, twins, triplets, dates of death, marriages, and trades, or professions as well as other genealogical information. It is available in a set of DVDs and CDs to library members.

MFGS membership dues are $20 per individual and $10 for each additional family member per year.