A trip to Salt Lake City is not complete for a genealogist without a trip to the the Family History Library. The library welcomes everybody – free. Although I have not had time to do any family history research at all this year, I did organise to have my family history database on my ipad mini via FamViewer after importing via the Legacy program so that I had my specific names, dates and places at hand. I wanted to experience using the library as a regular patron. and prepared to do this by looking at the catalogue and searching for names and place names of interest. I had a list of books and microfilm I wanted to consult before I even walked in, which related to a number of my family names in England.
The library is part of the historic and beautiful Temple Square complex and is world head quarters to The Church of Jesus Christ of Later-Day Saints. Apparently the christmas lights are very festive and I am too early for the spring flowers.
I spent most of my time on the British Isles floor, which also includes Australian records. People are encouraged to do their own research but there is assistance readily available when you need it. I was able to browse and help myself to the book collection, although I was not able to obtain a couple of specific titles I had obtained from the catalogue. That was OK as I was also able to browse the titles relevant to the counties I was looking at. There is a separate “Q” section for the oversize titles.
I was also able to simply pull the microfilms I wanted from a huge array of cabinets including one “Monumental inscriptions from the churchyard of Stoke Damerel County Devon” for my Pope and Webber families. I look forward to examining this information later in detail.
The floor was very busy, due to the influx of visitors for the Rootstech conference about to start tomorrow. (The latest report I have now seen is that 6,700 people have registered!). I also took the opportunity to explore the CD databases that were available on the computer’s desk top and noted some names from the Devon members interests list researching Stevens in Cornwall.
I enjoyed meeting with Darris G. Williams, Community Manager, FamilySearch and Stephen M. Law, Collections Operations. They reminded me why it is the largest collection of free genealogy and family history resources in the world. Darris commented that even as a employee he cannot even keep up with the new digitised collections coming on line all the time. FamilySearch are highly active in digitising collections around the world, as well as describing these collections for online access. Many collections are available online to browse but may not be searchable. Some collections are indexed and there is an ongoing program for volunteers to index collections. The family history books collection in partnership with organisations such as Allen County Public Library is well worth keeping an eye on. Today I discovered some Tasmanian electoral rolls from 1960.
I have also had the opportunity to take advantage of the regular free speakers program that the library provides. Audrey Collins, Family History Specialist from the UK National Archives is here for Rootstech and presented two talks today for people with British ancestry including “There and back again: going away doesn’t mean staying away” and “Lesser known sources for births, marriages and deaths in the British Isles” (I tweeted these sessions today via twitter).
I understand that there are changes in the air for FamilySearch including a new logo and new developments in helping beginners get started. There will also be additional developments with their website including members being able to upload their own photos and stories and connect with others. I hope to learn more at Rootstech.