Monday, September 3, 2007

Another Lesson Learned

It's happened to me twice now - you would think I would learn the first time. It wasn't that momentous - I didn't check all items on a microfilm to see what else was on it.

Here's the latest story: I ordered the Land Evidence records for Jamestown RI (Volumes 1 and 2, 1680-1744) on microfilm down at the Family History Center back in July. The microfilm came in about 3 weeks ago and I went down on 21 August and copied 47 pages of records - including three wills and probate records - from Volume 1 of the handwritten book. The pages were pretty readable, except the edges of some of them were missing, worn or very dark.

On Saturday I went back to the FHC because I knew the Jamestown microfilm had Volume 2 on it and I knew that there was one more probate record in Volume 2 that I wanted. I also wanted to obtain the early deeds for the ancestors (Giles Slocum, Ebenezer Slocum, Edward Carr and Caleb Carr) that I knew were in Volume 1. I captured about 30 pages from Volume 1 and scrolled down to go to Volume 2.

Whoa. What's this? At the end of Volume 1 there was a typewritten transcription of the first 280 pages of Volume 1 (there were over 500 pages)! It included a transcription of the first 20 pages that are either missing, torn or so unreadable on the microfilm of the handwritten copy. So I copied some of those pages too. Then I went to Volume 2 and found the probate record of Mary Slocum, widow of Ebenezer Slocum and copied it also. There was no transcription for Volume 2 - I checked!

When I say "copied" I mean that I captured the image from the microfilm, saved it on the Microfilm Scanner computer system at the FHC, then copied it on to my USB flash drive, brought it home and copied the pages to my computer files, and re-named the pages so I know what is on them. I described this process in my post titled "Microfilm Scanning at the FHC."

I managed to squeeze 60 scanned images onto my 500 mb USB flash drive (each was about 8 mb) on Saturday in 80 minutes. I still have more to capture - I'm going to go back and get the transcribed probate records on the theory that the person who transcribed it had a better chance to get it right than I do from the handwritten page on the microfilm. The transcription should be much easier to read and I can check the handwritten copy if necessary.

Needless to say, I really appreciate the LDS microfilm scanning computer system and the ease of using it - there is no paper to print out and no need to transcribe the pages by hand. The cost is nominal - $1 an hour at the FHC. I can bring the pages home and abstract them or transcribe them at my leisure. Frankly, my problem is finding the time to do it (note to self - you absolutely have to get with it, stop blogging so much!).

The only thing better would be to be able to capture the images of these old public records at home in my genealogy cave sitting in my shorts with the fan blowing and Laura, Michael or Hugh on the radio. Oh, that's right, that's what FamilySearch Indexing will do for us sometime in the future (BUT I WANT IT NOW! Um, sorry, I shouted, bad form, ... be patient - that's the recovering geneaholic shouting, I think - back in the cage, OK? Nurse!).

So the lesson learned here was this: Check all of the items on the microfilm before you start to capture or copy pages. You may be surprised!

1 comment:

Tex said...

I'm jealous. Your FHC has a microfilm scanner?! The one I use has 1 "only sometimes operable" printer. A scanner would be wonderful.

And, yes, I've had the same "didn't check the entire microfilm" experience a time or two. You'd think we'd learn.