Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Best Error a Librarian Ever Made

Copyright 2011, CABS for Reflections From the Fence

In the years that I have been researching the Lashbrook clan things have really changed for researchers.  Some of you may actually remember using film and indexes from the National Archives for census research.  And, Soundex.  You could go off to a National Archives facility, or you could order copies of the film from the Family History Center near you , or you could order the film from your local library.  Our local library did not charge for those orders back in 1992, so as a cost savings research tool, I would order as much film through that local library as they would let me.  Of course, I had to wait, sometimes for weeks, for the film to be delivered and then I only had a few weeks to use the film, in that specific library.  Hard copies were available though, WAHHHOOO, on 8.5 X 11 inch sheets!  Oh, ya, those were the days!

My very first research goal was to figure out what Man's lineage was.  Long story, short version, the surname we now use as our legal surname, well, it is not the surname of his heritage. His grandfather changed his name back around 1916.  No, not legally, he just changed it.  The little thorn sticking out this was the fact that when I started this research journey, we had no idea what our heritage surname was.

Talk about naive, I was so new and green I had no idea what I was attempting to do.  Sometimes naivety is a wonderful thing, so, I just plowed ahead, innocently where no woman, err, researcher had gone!  (Eyes rolling, Carol now laughing hysterically.)

After about 6 months of research I was pretty sure I was looking for Archibald Lashbrook and his ???  parents.  Archibald (who would become my favorite research dude, and is now known as Archie) was reportedly born in late 1879, so, I was instructed to look for him on the 1880 census.  OKKKKK, off to my fav local library I go, order up the 1880 census for Fillmore County Minnesota where I had reason to believe Archie had been born.

The librarian ordered the census index film for 1880 for the soundex of  L216,  not the Fillmore County Minnesota census film.   Turns out that was the best error any librarian ever made for me! Seriously! LOL  I was a bit upset, but Man and I decided to look at the film, especially since we really did not know what we were looking at anyway!

Man and I were both working film readers, sitting next to each other.  He had the 1880 soundex for L 216 and I had something else. He found the index card. Remember, we did not know what soundex was, what an index film was nor did we did know the head of household, we did not know who Archibald's parents were.  We were simply looking for a 1 year old baby with the name of Archibald or Archie Lashbrook.  Man stopped at this entry, and asked, "is this what we are looking for", or something to that affect. We were shocked, and would have done a happy dance if we had realized what we had just found.  Of course, we did not even known what a happy dance was. We were soooooooooooo new to the research game.  We were outrageously lucky!

Yep, there is our Archibald Lashbrook, err, Lashbronk, 1 year  old, Fillmore County, Minnesota.

We learned 2 lessons that day:

1.) What census index film was, how it worked, and what we would find

2.)  Spelling don't count

I will admit it took me several more months of learning, stumbling, and researching to fully accept that this was our Archie.

Yes, indeedy, the librarian who had done the interlibrary loan for me ordered the wrong film, only she ordered the RIGHT film.  Yep, the best error a librarian ever made for me.

*Here is the actual 1880 census enumeration of our Lashbrook family, it is easy to see how this has been indexed a number of times as Lashbronk.  Handwriting counts???



a3Genealogy, Kathleen Brandt said...

Yes...those were the days! Many of us don't have a clue of what world really is. But, it is through our naivete as a beginner that we learn a lot (if coupled with a bit of guidance and workshops). I love this story. It reminds us that the digitized versions really are just generations of the original (which may be erroneous exponentially).

Barbara Poole said...

I love how you tell this story, as though it just happened, and you are still doing the happy dance. What a great pieces of luck, sometimes that's all it is. In many ways, I miss the good ole days of how we researched, so it was a nice walk down memory lane. (Also, some of my census records printed at NARA were 11x14, I loved that size.) Good piece Carol.

Kathy Reed said...

Did you just change your blog template (or have I been reading your posts in google reader too much)? I love the pictures in your sidebar.
This was a GREAT post. I could SO identify.

Michelle Goodrum said...

This is one of the best genealogy stories I've read. I felt like I was sitting at that microfilm reader with the two of you greenhorns! Thanks for the trip down memory lane. Things weren't so hard back in the old days were they? LOL

my Heritage Happens said...

What a wonderful way to start! Great story!