Thursday, May 29, 2014

Working on One Surname at a Time - a Proper Goldmine

I went down to the San Diego FamilySearch Library in Mission Valley last Saturday, and took a list of surnames to search for in the FamilySearch Books ( website.

I had tried to go through my list at home, and was able to identify several resources, but when I tried to access the book at home, I usually got the dreaded "You do not have sufficient rights to view this object" message, even though I was signed into FamilySearch.

For instance, one of the surnames that I wanted to find information about was Proper (or Propert), one of the German Palatines who immigrated to New York's Hudson river Valley in 1710.

When I put "Proper" in the search field on FamilySearch Books, I got a list of over 47,000 matches (since "proper" is also a general-usage word, not just a surname):

The first match looked like a pretty good match - right surname and variants.  At the FamilySearch Library, I looked through it, almost cheered right there in the library, but downloaded the book (about 200 megabytes) to my flash drive, and brought it home to read at a later time.

As I suspected, this is one of those really excellent "all persons with the surname" book, very complete, with lots of sources in a bibliography, with a letter-number code indicating the record type and number on the list.

Here is the title page for this book:

Here is the first page of genealogical data for the immigrant family:

You can see some of the letter-number codes on the page above, F-1, A-6, etc.  The A is for the record type (e.g., A = Church records).

Here is the top of the Church Records bibliography:

There are thousands of entries in the bibliography (e.g., 71 in Churches, 282 in Cemeteries, 161 in County Clerks, etc.).

This had to be a long-term research effort on the part of the compiler, Lewis G. Proper of Rochester, New York.  What a lifetime work to document his ancestral surname back 8 or more generations.  He enlisted a number of other researchers who provided him with family Bibles, family papers and family information, and incorporated them into his book.  This effort was all done in repositories before 1996 - in libraries, archives, town and county clerks, courthouses, cemeteries, etc.

The really neat thing is that he permitted the Family History Library to microfilm his book and the Library digitized it and put it in the Family  History Archive at FamilySearch Books.

I've been through this book for the first two generations (the ones that interest me at this time) and have added content and source citations for the information to my RootsMagic family tree database.  If I want to find record images for the vital events of my Proper ancestors, I can use the bibliography to find the correct source, then look in the Family History Library Catalog, order the microfilm, and then read the microfilm to find and capture the record image.

I'm glad that I didn't give up when faced with the dreaded message that I didn't have sufficient rights to view this book.  I knew enough to go down to the FamilySearch Library at my convenience, and take my flash drive with me, then search for, find and download this book.

Have you searched on FamilySearch Books yet for your surnames?  If not, you really should.  There may be a dedicated and generous genealogist like Lewis G. Proper who has done a magnificent job documenting his/her family history.

After I did the above, I realized that I could have found this book in the FamilySearch Lib rary Catalog, and it would provide more information about the work.  Here is the FHLC page for this Proper book:

As you can see, the Notes on the screen above contains a message "To see a digital version of this item click here."  I still would have had to go down to the FamilySearch Library.

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copyright (c) 2014, Randall J. Seaver


Unknown said...

Excellent idea Randy and I do recommend downloading the books on a flash drive as you never know when you will have problems loading a page online.

Unknown said...

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