Librarian, Archivist Retires After 30 Years

Karen Livsey of Fenton History Center has retired after 30 years of service.

Starting out as a volunteer in 1986, librarian, archivist and researcher Karen Livsey has left her mark at the Fenton History Center.

Last month, a retirement party was held in Livsey’s honor after her 30-plus years of service at the Fenton helping people with their genealogy and local history research. Livsey is a well-known member of the Scandinavian Studies Program as well as an author of five books on local history. She is also a regular contributor for The Post Journal.

In addition to her involvement in local history, Livsey is a member of Swedish-American Genealogists and has been active in many national genealogy organizations.

Even though Livsey is retiring from the Fenton, she will still be active in doing genealogy and local history research.

“I will still be doing genealogy research. Whatever I want to do, which will be some of my own family,” she said. “I will still go to genealogy conferences and travel. Continue Swedish and Italian research in Salt Lake.”

Janet Wahlberg, Fenton volunteer, said a local group called the Fenton Travelers would take genealogical research trips to Salt Lake City where the Family History Library is located. The Family History Library is the largest genealogical library in the world.

“Karen and I are members of the Swedish American Genealogy Society and they have an annual meeting (in Salt Lake City),” Wahlberg said. “We will go there for a week for the retreat. Every fall for a full week. Researches will come from Sweden and we work with them.”

Wahlberg said Livsey has done research at the Library of Congress and U.S. National Archives.

“She is amazing. She has an encyclopedic knowledge of Chautauqua County,” Wahlberg said. “How we are going to fill those shoes is beyond me.”

Barbara Cessna, Fenton History Center library researcher, said Livsey is a bundle of knowledge, especially on Swedish and Italian heritage.

“It was great to learn from her and how to help other people as they came in to do research,” Cessna said. “She knows so much. So if you happen to be in the room when she is talking about something, it is good to glean information from here.”

Cessna, who worked with Livsey for more than 20 years, said researching genealogy and local research isn’t the easiest thing to do. However, she said Livsey was able to help so many people who entered the Hall House to do family research.

“She had been a librarian and we have a research library, and she is just so knowledgeable in so many different areas,” she said. “There is just always so much that you don’t think about until you hear someone talk about it and how to research it.”