Saturday, February 9, 2008

"Effective Use of LDS FHCs" with Beth McCarty

Beth McCarty from Orange, California was the featured speaker at the San Diego Genealogical Society meeting today. She had two subjects - the first was "Effective Use of LDS Family History Centers" in the first hour of the 2.5 hour meeting. Beth's curriculum vitae and talk summary was posted here.

As the Director of the Orange County Regional FHC, Beth has a wealth of knowledge about the resources offered at FHCs, and she shared them with the audience of about 90 attendees. She used overhead slides to show examples of the genealogy databases, books and microforms available at the FHCs and online at

In this talk, Beth described the Ancestral File (AF), Pedigree Resource File (PRF), International Genealogical Index (IGI), Vital Records Index, Family History Library Catalog (FHLC), Research Outlines, Census Indexes, etc. She showed examples of the databases, how to find the submitters, and how to evaluate the quality of the information.

I learned a few new things from this talk, including

* You can see the full database submitted to the Pedigree Resource File on CDs at the FHC.

* Persons can still submit GEDCOMs to the Pedigree Resource File.

* The DAR Lineage Books are on microfiche and microfilm at the FHC.

* There is an Asian Microfilm Card Catalog for records in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, etc.

Beth didn't talk a lot about the rental of microfilms at FHCs for some reason - to me, the access to original source records from earlier times is one of the most useful resources for me in pursuing my family history. Other than going to each locality or the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, being able to access probate, vital, tax, town, military and other records on microfilm at the FHC is absolutely necessary to my genealogy work.

She mentioned the New FamilySearch web site only in passing, and didn't mention the new databases at the Record Search web site or even FamilySearch Indexing. She did mention the digitization project and that perhaps 30% of the "owners" of the content on the microforms would not approve of the digitization of their content. That is unfortunate! She mentioned access to on the FHC computers, but not access to Footnote, WoldVitalRecords, godfrey Library, HeritageQuestOnline, etc.

During her talk, Beth asked for raising of hands if the audience had accessed the databases or resources she was discussing. I was surprised that more people in the audience don't access on a regular basis, haven't explored the FHLC for resources, and haven't ordered and reviewed microfilms at the FHC.

All in all, this was an excellent talk for a beginner to intermediate level researcher, although advanced researchers received useful information. Beth is a knowledgeable researcher and an excellent speaker. Hopefully, her talks will encourage some of the audience to get back into the FHCs to do research in original source records.

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