Sunday, June 5, 2011

From the Research Mecca, The Internet VS Hard Core Research Saga

Copyright 2011, CABS for Reflections From the Fence

Have been researching at the Family History Center here in Salt Lake for a bit over two weeks.  My two (2) to do lists, that I thought were pathetic and short, have turned out to not be so pathetic after all.   Surprised me to no end, let me tell you.  I am still working on the last items on that list.  Yes, I have taken a tangent or two, added a lot of death certificates to the list, deleted some items from the list, hey, it is research time!  LOL,  But, I really thought those pathetic to do lists would last about a week, tops.  SURPRISE!!!

After getting my bearings around the library and sorta mastering the copying/scanning of documents, the research is going a bit faster.  That said, I really must have forgotten what it is to do "real SLOW" research.  Hard core/retrieval/film/fiche/book research.  I have been a bit amazed at how long it is taking me.  And, how tired I am at the end of a 7 or 8 hour day of stomping the library, snooping for ancestors and cousins and the ones that are hiding.

The other morning I decided to work on some Idaho events, first thing I did was to search for the party I was interested in on the FamilySearch web site, and WAHOOOOOO, the image for that event was on line, in fact, there were two images.  I clicked, I copied, I saved to my hard drive and in just a matter of a minute or two I had my event, image and all.  Ca-Ching!!  Gotcha!!

Then, I went back to pulling Washington (state) death certificates.  They are indexed at FamilySearch, but, the images are not available.  My research plan, get as many images as I can, they may be online next month, but it may be next year, or whenever, before they are online.  I had quite a few to grab.

But, it takes a LOT more time to get them off film than it does to get off the net.  Here is the process:

I find the entry on the FamilySearch web site, record the information, date of death, county of death, film number and hopefully a good certificate number.  If it says image number, I know I am in for a long search, because the image numbers are NOT indicated on the film, that is a number used by someone else, probably an internal FHC number.  I need a certificate number and I need a good one.  Ya, sorry to tell you, but some of those certificate numbers are NOT good.  SIGHHH  I found out the hard way.  SIGHHHH!!!

After making notes of this data, I go find the film, come back to my microfilm reader, find the image, take the film to the digital scanner, find the image again, cause you alway lose it while loading to the digital reader.  Next tweak the image, make it larger or smaller, lighten, darken, adjust the contrast, adjust the image so it is nice and straight, choose the dpi you want, save it, want a jpg, tiff or a PDF, choose.

(By the way, if you want to see what the film scanner looks like, here it is.)

After you save the image you can print it to paper, transfer to your USB/flash drive or email it to yourself.  I have not printed ONE piece of paper while here, so I choose either the flash drive or emailing to myself.  If I choose the email, I must bring up the net, bring up my web based email of choice, log in, go to mail, compose the email, attach the document to the email, send, and then, because I am a bit paranoid, I make sure it is received in the email account I sent it to.  (Yes, I have more than one web based email account, OK, I have, mmmm, several, well, OK, I have quite a few.  Yes, she IS out of control!)

Now, image captured and forwarded, or saved to the flash drive, I must rewind the film, shut down the web based email account, shut everything else down, return to my work station, and refile the film.

IF, and that is a big IF, the indexers did a really good job, I can accomplish all this from retrieving the film, to digitizing the image, to refiling the film in about 10 to 15 minutes.  BUT, and oh, this hurts when it happens, if the indexing is done poorly, and yes, some of it is done poorly, it can take me a LOT longer. SIGHHHHH, sorry to all the volunteers, I know you are really working hard, but, sometimes you simply miss.  If you have missed, I can spend well over 30 minutes just trying to locate the image on the film.

Yes, fellow researchers, all that internet research is fun, and, yes, it really is FAST.  Bring on the digitizing!  Good luck to the volunteers that are indexing, may you be blessed with great eyesight and no typos!  My hat is off to you!


 - - not all your records are on the internet, not all your records are even here at Salt Lake City.  Try finding marriage records of any kind for Routt County Colorado on the Family History Library catalog.  Not there.  I could probably write a very long post about that, but, for now, I am back to the stacks of film, the readers, the scanners, I am doing real SLOW research once again, and I am fully enjoying the experience.

* Graphic courtesy of


Debbie Blanton McCoy said...

Carol, I'm learning a lot from your posts, just in case I ever get to SLC. Thanks!

Chuck said...

Very informative post on how it all works there in the library...

Apple said...

10-15 minutes? It usually takes me longer than that just to thread the film! That said I can scroll through a census faster than I can load each page on my computer. Indexes are great - except when they aren't.

Happy you are finding so much even if it sometimes takes a while.