FOR THE PUBLIC: Maria Brower of Grass Valley | TheUnion.com
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FOR THE PUBLIC: Maria Brower of Grass Valley

My job title: Library Assistant II

What I do in my job: I manage the history branch of the Nevada County Library System, the Doris Foley Library for Historical Research.

Why my job is important to the public: Our history branch serves patrons from around the world. Almost everyone has an ancestor who came to the California Gold Rush. Nevada County was “the” most important mining county! Visitors and local writers, historians, genealogists and students use our library because of the historical collection we have in this county.



The special skills and talents I bring to my job: I was the founder of the Nevada County Genealogical Society and I currently serve on the board of directors of the Nevada County Historical Society as the genealogical director. I bring 29 years of research experience to my job. I have used research collections in libraries, archives and historical societies across the U.S. I have a good understanding of researcher’s needs and what we can implement to make our collection more accessible.

The best part of my job is: Working with a great group of volunteers. They work here because of their love for history and books. Each one has a specialty or expertise and they are a valuable asset to the history branch. Also, finding hidden information for patrons in our vast collection. It is almost like a treasure hunt every day.




The part of my job that I like least is: Patrons who refuse to acknowledge that their family surnames may have had a different spelling in records of the past. Patrons not citing sources of where they got information.

A day of work I’ll always remember was: A local resident walked in and donated an old volume of Uncle Tom’s Cabin from 1865 that belonged to an early Nevada City family. That same week another local person donated an old letter written by a Grass Valley resident in 1864.

How I got my job: I have researched at the history branch for 10 years as a patron. I started out as a volunteer to help open the library on Saturdays and a year later on Fridays. When a part-time position was open I interviewed for it.

How long I’ve been working here: I have been working as a county employee for four years.

My dream job would be: Doing my job full-time and having the history branch open seven days a week so more out-of-town visitors can use the library’s collection. Many people can only come up on weekends.

My family: Includes Jim and our three children who grew up in Grass Valley, and graduated from Nevada Union, Tony, 34; Jeff, 32; and Jennifer, 30.

My hobbies: Reading, genealogy and collecting celebrity paper dolls from the 1940s-1970s, old postcards of Nevada County, and old Pyrex bowls.

When I was a kid: I lived in Los Angeles and it was a very exciting place to live in the 1950s and 1960s.

If money were no object, I would: Buy the library another microfilm printer.

My dream vacation: Go back to Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland where my ancestors came from, to do research and take my husband. My last research trip back east was one week after Sept. 11, 2001. It was a very stressful trip and I was sick for the whole two weeks so it wasn’t very productive.

If a movie were made of my life, I would be played by: The young actress who plays Meg on “American Dreams.”

The people who have made the biggest difference in my life: A friend,Ginger Morton, who recently passed away and my husband, who always supports me in my endeavors.

My hero: Early local resident Niles Searls who came to California in 1849 and settled in Nevada City.

The best book I’ve read lately was: “Outlander” by Diana Gabaldon. It is set in Scotland, filled with history, mystery, genealogy and time travel. It is one of a four-part series (each book 750-1,200 pages long.)

The soundtrack to my life would include these songs: “Maria,” “It’s Been A Hard Day’s Night” and “We Got to Get Out of This Place.”

I like living in Nevada County because: of its rich historic past; it is beautiful and has seasons.

“For the Public” appears each Wednesday. To suggest a public servant to be profiled, call The Union newsroom at 273-9561.


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