The Salt Lake City area probably has more professional genealogists per capita than just about any metropolitan area in the US. So it comes as no surprise that Genlighten has several lookup providers who live near the LDS Church’s Family History Library and know its resources well. Barbara Smythe is one of them. She joined our provider network only recently and already offers an extensive collection of vital record lookups covering eight states plus Chicago and Manhattan.
From FamHistFinder‘s Profile
Barbara has a BA in Social Science and Library Science. She’s been a school librarian and teacher of reading and geography in Kansas, California, Hong Kong and China.
Nine questions with Barbara
1) How did you get started doing genealogy lookups/research?
About thirty years ago a close friend asked me to help her find out something about her mother and we both became hooked. We lived in Southern California where there was a National Archives and several good libraries. We then began doing family history for friends and family, we have never stopped.
2) Do you have a genealogy superpower? If so, what is it?
My “superpower” is my husband of 53 years. He is an historian and will always go to libraries with me and do his research as long as I want to do mine. We once spent 27 days at the Library of Congress, and have been to many of the State Historical Libraries. I’m a detail person and never tire of going from one lead to another in order to solve a problem, and I love huge libraries.
3) Describe a tricky research problem you’re particularly proud of having solved?
A friend said that his wife, who was adopted as a baby, wanted to find who her birth parents were. All she knew was when and where she was born. She was adopted soon after her birth. I was taking a trip to the Salt Lake Family History Library and there I started looking at birth records for a female baby born on the date and place given. There were two girls born that day, one with the right first name, but no father mentioned. I then looked for the mother in the census. I found her with her parents at a younger age and found her marriage later, tracked her down in the same town where she still lives.
The problem was how to get in touch with her. Do you just call one day and ask if she had put a baby girl up for adoption 50 years ago? I took the information back to my friend, and he said that his wife had decided since her adoptive parents were still alive and lived close to them that she would not try to find her birth parents. I am pretty sure that my information was correct, but will never know whether this lady ever used that information to find her birth mother.
4) What are the ideal elements you like to see in a well-formulated lookup request/research query?
It is always important to have a specific goal. Give names, places, dates and any clue about the people who the person is looking for. If they know where the people are during a census year, it is great to have siblings and other people who might be living with the family on a census.
5. What’s the most interesting record source or repository you’ve utilized in your area?
The Salt Lake Family History Library.
6) What technical tools (hardware, software) do you use to produce the digital images you provide to clients?
Desktop PC with Windows Vista. HP Deskjet 4480 (3 in One, Printer, Scanner, Copier).
7. Any new lookups you’re considering offering?
Any lookup which can be answered with records from the Salt Lake Family History Library.
8. What advice would you give to someone who wants to get started as a lookup provider?
Live near a large library or repository that has a great number of records.
9. What other passions do you pursue when you’re not at the archives doing lookups/research?
I’m always working on my own and my husband’s family history. I am a member of a local chapter of the Daughter’s of the American Revolution and help prospective members and friends with their applications for joining the DAR. I have done the research for 14 DAR applications which have been accepted.
Lookups FamHistFinder Offers
Manhattan, New York Birth Certificates, 1866-1897, $10.00
Manhattan, New York Marriage Records, Index to all Boroughs, 1866-1937
Chicago, Cook, Illinois Birth Certificates (not yet online at FamilySearch), 1916-1922
Alabama Death Certificates, 1908-1974
Florida Death Records, 1877-1939
Georgia Death Records, 1914-1927
Idaho Death Records, 1911-1937
South Carolina Death Records, 1944-1955
New Mexico Death Records, 1889-1945
Minnesota Death Records, 1908-1955
Louisiana Death Records, 1850-1875, 1894-1954