Thursday, January 12, 2012

Preparing for Rootstech- The Family History Library

Family History Library
Image by whistlepunch via Flickr
The countdown to Rootstech has begun!  My head is buzzing even more than usual as I try to plan what to bring, what to do while I'm there and on and on and on....
One of my priorities while in Salt Lake City is do some research at Mecca the Family History Library.  The time I will have available to do this will be limited and since it will probably be a LONG time before I get there again, I want to be as efficient as possible. So here is my plan:

  • I'm taking the first flight out of Tulsa (7:25 am!) which will get me to SLC by noon on Wed.  (Rootstech begins on Thursday, Feb. 2) This will give me several hours in the afternoon and maybe early evening to research. Starbucks anyone? ( Do they even have Starbucks in SLC?)
  • When I registered for Rootstech I signed up for the Late Night at the Library event on Friday evening.  More research time.
  • Today I sat down and identified 3 brick walls to work on. One of these is my great great grandmother Martha Blosser.    I also want to do some research on Hardin County, TN the home of most of my maternal relatives and the side on which I have the least information.
  • After picking my genealogical battles, so to speak, I went to and checked the library catalog for the areas I want to research.  I printed off the titles that I want to look at while I'm there.  I will be focusing first on the books since I can always order microfilm in Tulsa if I run out of time.  
  • On the other hand, I've learned that you can ask FHL to pull film in advance of your visit so its already there waiting for you.  What a cool service and a great time-saver!  You can do it online here.
  • I will be bringing my Flip-Pal scanner, my camera and a couple of flash drives.  If I start to run out of time in the library I can make a quick scan or save and I will still be able to evaluate the information after I get home. Oh and lots of batteries.
Any of you experienced FHL researchers have any suggestions?

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  1. Nancy, I hope you enjoy this trip to RootsTech. There are Starbucks there! Within a block of the library even. If you have an iPhone you need to get the app of course, if not, google will help you locate them!
    I used my camera to take photos of film on my last trip. 2 pieces of yellow construction paper make the photos worth keeping (readability).

    Have a great trip!

  2. Wow I am excited for you and hope that you have many "Yes" moments at the library.
    Bring a music player with headphones to keep you energized and block out others noises. If your there during the lunch hour, the employees have a great inexpensive cafeteria you can get a visitors pass to(from the libraries guard posted at the exit). It is a short walk, well worth your time as you need to take a mental and food break. I also take peanuts to snack on.
    I make a master research log film list in excel; a doc with multiple pages, each loosely based on a floor of the FHL and location Im searching (ex USA, Ireland, Scotland, books). Lastly, a page for already searched films/books. All pages have the same format. Column A is film/book #. Column B is Item #. C is years spanned in film, D is for location of record (ex town, county, state), E for record on film (ex: b,m,d, index, directory, etc). F is for description (ex: index surnames A-Ca, gravestones from Restland Cemetery). G is labeled Results used prior to research to remind me which surname or person I need to look for in that film. Post research my reminder is deleted and a summary of my findings is then typed in. I sort all pages of my research log by Column A, film #, numerically smallest to largest. I then highlight each film line that I have selected as a priority, sometimes using multiple colors so I know 1st, 2nd, 3rd priority etc.
    When at the library, I keep hand written dated incl year notes in a spiral bound notebook, allotting at least a page for each and every film I look at, notating even when the film is illegible (may be a second filming of the records) or it did not have a single surname I'm searching for. Spiral bound helps me keep my notes in chronological order by my search, as sometimes a find will take you down an unanticipated path. I don't want to get my notes out of order until I return home to my proper filing system. After completing the film, it gets check it off on my hard copy master list.
    At the end of my library day, I get on my computer and update my results column with a summary of each film's contents as it pertains to my search. I then cut the completed films line and paste it on the "already searched" page of my excel research log. Once finished, I re Sort all pages eliminating any blank lines, all numerically by column A smallest to largest. If I plan on returning to the library the following day, I copy onto my zip drive and have the hotel print out the updated pages. If that doesn't work, you have your original research log printout with the films already searched checked.
    You will possibly make a great find that leads you in a new direction, which will require you to look up films for this unanticipated path. As long as you take great notes in your spiral notebook as to the film number and other info regarding the film, this info can be added to your research film log on excel at any time. Sadly I have searched all films pertaining to my research at FHL. I once had a volunteer genealogist tell me she has reached this same point as well. I couldn't fathom that, but it has happened to me too. She told me not to be discouraged if that were to happen to me, as the library is constantly adding new films to their inventory.
    Also, as you are aware, new finds lead you in new directions. As you are no longer considering yourself a newbie, but not quite a pro, another hint when you've exhausted your ancestors, is to do research on their siblings. When I expanded my research, I discovered the mother living with a brother. Thanks to finding that mother and her other children, I have connected with a distant cousin in Australia. Her ancestor, my ancestor's sister, kept 50 letters from her brother's written from 1840-1930, including a few photos!
    Good luck and happy hunting. :-)

    1. Denise, thank you! That is SO helpful! If you don't have a blog already, you need to get one ASAP! This would make a great post. In fact if you don't have a blog, I would love (with your permission of course) to use this comment as a guest post. I couldn't find your contact info so just send me an email nshively at gmail dot com.


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