Friday, November 9, 2007

You Learn Something New Every Day

When you're working on genealogy and family history nearly every day, and often for hours on each day, you should strive to learn something new each day.

Today was a frustrating genealogy day for me. I had the day all planned. We received a query last month asking for cemetery information on three people, and then a request for death certificates for these three people, who all died in the 1930's. I had to wait until I got the money in hand to pay for them as a sound financial measure (having been burned in the past!). I received the money on Monday last, and so I planned to go to the San Diego County Clerk's office branch here in Chula Vista to order the death certificates.

My previous experience at the County clerk's office getting death certificates has been great - it takes about 5 minutes to ask for it and about 10 minutes to get it, you pay $12 and walk out happy as a clam. I've done that at least 10 times in the past 5 years. Never a problem.

Today - a problem. Because the deaths occurred in the 1930's, two of the records were not on the county computer system. The clerk had to call to the main office in San Diego and have the records pulled from the paper files, copied, and then faxed to the Chula Vista office. One of the faxed copies was not dark enough - you could hardly see the typewritten information in many fields. The second one was dark enough, but the clerk could not figure out how to get the "For Information Only" overlaid on the certificate. The third one was in the system and I received the certificate. Her recommendation was to go down to the San Diego office and they would be able to give me the two certificates. This process took an hour instead of 15 minutes, throwing off my whole schedule for the day.

While I was waiting, I "played" with the public computer system at the County Clerk's office. Their system has categories of Assessor and Taxpayers, Real Estate Index, Marriage Records (1973-2007) and Death Records (1905-2007). I managed to find the names of the owners of all of the houses on our street, plus the assessed value and the property tax on each property. Now I know more of my neighbors names!

In the Marriage Records (1973-2007), the information contains only the names of the bride and groom and the date - no ages, birthplaces, location of marriage, etc. There are marriage records for 1960 to 1985 on, and at the LDS FHCs on microfiche, but this is the first time I've seen marriages after 1985 anywhere. Good! I learned something new there.

To see the Death Records (1905-2007), they require that you fill out a form in order to see them. In the future, this may be a good way to find recent deaths, since and databases are from 1940 to 1997, and the Vitalsearch records are for 1905-1939 and 1940-2000. Again, I learned something. I should have filled out the form, I guess, to see what information could be obtained, but the clerk called me to give me the good news about my certificates.

I went to Costco for lunch, then met my friend to go walking, but he couldn't go. So I went to the library for 10 minutes and came home early. Scanning was the time-spender this afternoon.

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