Posts Tagged ‘Salt Lake Family History Library’

Follow Friday: Beth Bandy’s “Farms, Creeks & Hollows” blog

Saturday, March 6th, 2010

beth2My main mode of discovery for new genealogy blogs lately has been to look through the most active and interesting people I follow on Twitter and pursue their “Web” links to see what they point to. I’ve often been intrigued by “ResearcherB”‘s Tweets so tonight I visited her blog for the first time. It passed the “frequently updated, original content, quality writing” test, and I’ve added it to my Google Reader subscriptions. Here’s what I like about Beth Bandy’s blog, “Farms, Creeks & Hollows.”

  • The frequency of her posting has increased steadily since she began her blog last August. She’s already reached the stage where she’s posting new discoveries and insights daily… that’s a level that it took me a year-and-a-half to attain.
  • She’s researching in localities that are of interest to me, like Massachusetts, Kentucky, New York, and Northern Ireland.
  • There’s a strong theme of mystery and problem-solving to her posts, which draws me in and makes her narratives entertaining to read.
  • Beth’s got plenty of photos and documents to share, including a bunch she brought back from a recent visit to the FHL in Salt Lake. I look forward to hearing more analysis of her finds there.

From her Twitter stream, it looks like Beth’s involved in her local genealogical community as well, volunteering to help a local historical society digitize its photo collection and fulfilling Find A Grave requests.  To me, that sets her apart and makes me even more interested in what she has to say.

I’d encourage you to visit Beth’s blog and peruse her recent posts. You can also follow her on Twitter, where she’s @ResearcherB.

“Just in Time” Genealogy Document Digitization

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

In a fun blog post entitled “The Genealogy Instant Answer Line“, Arlene Eakle educates her impatient (and by implication, naive) clients on just how long it’s going to take to pole vault them over their brick walls:

Please do not expect to have your 20-year problem resolved, with documentation, with full analysis, with pertinent comments and follow-up in supporting sources, in 20 days.  Not happenin’–with your ancestry nor anybody else’s.  When you engage me to solve your hardest-to-find ancestor and link him to an unknown family unit, allow sufficient time for me to do it.

I love this kind of candor. Arlene’s obviously a truly professional genealogist who’s going to be completely straight with you. And she’s clearly right. You probably wouldn’t have come to her for help unless yours was the kind of problem that needed her unique divergent thinking skills and research expertise, applied over months, not days.

But what if the “Instant Answer” was available from a single offline document?

Would it be realistic to expect to have that document retrieved on the same day you decided you wanted it? What about if you wanted it in an hour? A few minutes?

“Just In Time” On-Demand Genealogy Document Digitization

Consider the following (admittedly contrived) scenario. You’re browsing the Family History Library catalog online  at about 9 pm Central time on a Thursday evening. You notice there’s an FHL film (say 1671673) that has a pretty good chance of holding the marriage record for your great-great-grandparents. It hasn’t yet been digitized and indexed on the FamilySearch Record Pilot, unfortunately. You could go to your local FHC tomorrow and order it for $5.50. It’d probably arrive in 2-3 weeks.

genealogy_pagerBut what if you wanted to know RIGHT NOW if film 1671673 contains that marriage record, or if you should try a different research avenue instead, all without interrupting your genealogy flow? What if you could log onto a website, enter that film number, and immediately see a list of people who were at the FHL right this minute and who could go pull the film for you? What if the researcher you selected could then browse through the film on a reader, locate the marriage record you’re after, scan it directly to a digital image, and upload that image to the website for you to view and download, all within about 15 minutes of receiving your request?

We have the technology…

As it turns out, this scenario is completely plausible. In fact, here at Genlighten we’ve already begun building the infrastructure to make it real. It will probably end up relying on web-enabled smartphones and make use of Twitter’s APIs. Clients who want this kind of near-real-time response will need to pay a premium for it. But the cost of this service will still be comparable to that of requesting the film.

So… are you interested?

Can you think of a situation where you might use this? How much would an “Instant Genealogy Answer” be worth to you?

Nine Questions with FamHistFinder

Monday, February 1st, 2010

famhistfinderThe 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