Friday, January 31, 2014

Preparing for my Visit to the FamilySearch Library

I'm going to spend next Wednesday (5 February) at the FamilySearch Library in Salt Lake City just before attending the RootsTech 2014 Conference.  This will be the sixth year in a row that I've been able to have at least one day at the very best genealogy reference library in the world.

When I go to the FamilySearch Library, I always try to find books, periodicals and microfilms that are not available in any other repository (except for a local courthouse or library).  I'm at the point in my research where I am usually searching for land, probate, church, tax and other record types from colonial or 19th century time frames.  So the FamilySearch Library is ideal for me because it has microfilm for many of those record types.

I have put records to research on a To-Do list for many of the ancestors in my family tree, at least the ones since 1700.  Then I've gone into the FamilySearch Library Catalog to determine what resources are available at the FamilySearch Library.  I now have about 100 items on the list to be found (which doesn't include the completed items).

Since this is a process that almost every researcher gets around to doing eventually, usually after hitting a "brick wall" in online resources, I thought it might be worthwhile to show how I find the potential records in the FamilySearch Library Catalog.

Here is how I found information for one record set - land records in Mercer County, Pennsylvania:

1)  On, click on the "Catalog" link and select the "Place" search:

On the form above, I typed "mercer penn" in the field and selected "United States, Pennsylvania, Mercer" from the dropdown list provided.

2)  After clicking the "search" button on the screen above, the search results for Mercer County, Pennsylvania opened:

I scrolled down a bit and clicked on the down arrow to the left of the "Land and property"item on the list and the list of databases in that sub-category appeared:

3)  There are four record sets in the "Land and property" category, and I selected the one for "Deed books, 1803-1886, Index to deeds, 1803-1919" (two screens shown):

The page above provided the information I needed to find the Grantee and Grantor indexes for my Carringer, Feather and Spangler surnames.

For Carringer, I wrote down:

*  Grantee Index, C-D, 1803-1919: on FHL Film 878942
*  Grantor Index, C-D, 1803-1919: on FHL Film 889508

4)  The film number information enabled me to add an item to my To-Do list for Henry Carringer (1800-1879), who resided in Mercer County until about 1857.  I created a To-Do list item in RootsMagic for Mercer County PA Deeds (1803-1886) and entered the information into the To-Do item fields. I included the microfilm number information.  After looking at the Grantee and Grantor Indexes, I will add the deed volume and page information for Henry Carringer to the item and look for the actual deeds when I have the opportunity to do so.

Here is the Mercer County land record item on the To-do List (for the FamilySearch Library) at the top of the list below:

Over the past two years,  I've added items to this To-Do list, and have been able to complete quite a few of them.  Other items could not be found last year or the year before, so I've noted that on their list entries.  I will have to search for those in the localities and not at the FamilySearch Library.

By preparing my search for items on the To-Do List from the FamilySearch Library, as shown above, I am husbanding my available time to do actual searching in the records, and not having to identify microfilms before I can find them.  When I find the actual records that I want to capture in an image, I take the microfilm to the microfilm scanner and save the images to my flash drive.

So this aspect of my Salt Lake City is ready to go.  I have printed out the To-Do List for the FSL, and have also saved a digital copy of it in a file folder on my flash drive and my laptop.  I use the printed-out list to make notes so that I don't duplicate effort and can enter information into my To-Do list, and my Research Log, later.  I also have the To-Do List and Research Log in notes in Evernote on my smart phone and tablet so I don't have to drag my laptop to the FamilySearch Library.

I hope that this helps my readers understand how to use the FamilySearch Library Catalog, and provide an example of how I try to be organized for a research trip.

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Copyright (c) 2014, Randall J. Seaver


MissPeggy55 said...

Randy, you give such a great step-by-step pathway to accomplishing research goals. Even though I'm a bit seasoned, I always read them. I still have much to learn.

When I was a FHC, I would often talk with people who were making their first trip to Salt Lake City. I would sit down with them and help them make a to-do list like yours so they wouldn't be wasting valuable time there.

Great job, as always!

Marian said...

Randy, I enjoy reading about your methods, and this is no exception. Lately I've been using the free Ancestry access at the public library, and I prepare almost as carefully for those 3-mile trips as you do for the trip to Salt Lake. I hate to get home and remember something that would have been easy to check.

I keep my to-do list in Google Docs, so I can open and update it from the library computer as I find things -- or fail to find them. Ancestry lets me "send home" the found documents (text and images) via email. When I get home, there's an email waiting that takes me to links to my newly-found documents, so I can save them to my home computer.

It's a very satisfying feeling to see the list of things I worked on, see the results, and know that it was all directed to something I want to achieve.