Saturday, March 1, 2008

CVGS Research Trip to the FHC today

I spent most of the mid-day at the San Diego Family History Center with 12 other CVGS members - some of us car-pooled there from Chula Vista, and several others drove themselves. Three of the attendees were new members from last Wednesday. When it opened at 10 a.m., I gave the "first-timers" a little tour of the facility - microfilms/fiches, CDROMs, reference books, book stacks, computers, and special collections.

None of the attendees had used the FHC computer system since they added the Premium Services - Footnote, WorldVitalRecords, Godfrey, HeritageQuestOnline, KindredKonnections and Ancestry. The access at the FHC is a little tricky so I demonstrated it for those that wanted to use it.

I sat with one of our new members to provide some guidance for her search for information about her ancestors. She has a good start, with family data back to about 1900, so we started in the census records for 1930 hoping to be able to work backwards in time from there. We struck out on her mother's family - she knows where they were in 1925 (her mother's birth) and 1931 (her grandfather's death) in Montana. However, after using every combination and wild card in my bag of census searching tricks, we couldn't find any of them in Montana or the USA. My conclusion was that the family wasn't enumerated. That's too bad, because the grandfather emigrated in about 1920 and married after that. We found several records for someone with the same name and origin in the right place, but we don't think it's her grandfather because other known data doesn't match well. This was very frustrating for both of us, because we didn't make a lot of progress on her line the first time out.

Several of our attendees had a bit more success with their online and book searches. Several of them found useful information in Footnote and WVR, and copied digital images to their flash drives.

I'm going to redouble my efforts to create a "Beginner's Guide" for our new members who don't have much experience in genealogy research. There is a definite need and it will be helpful to those who excitedly join CVGS and want to get started before we can get them in our yearly new members class. The alternative is, of course, to have more new members classes!

We all had an enjoyable four hours at the FHC. Now the new members know where it is and have a little experience on the computer system - that is one reason we take these trips every two months or so to a local repository.

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