Monday, January 9, 2012

Expanding my genealogical horizons - planning a visit to a Family History Center

A little late to the Family History Center game? Probably. My dad started his genealogy research on his Gorry line by visiting the local Family History Center and he found really great records to help get us started on that. I have been a great advocate of the FamilySearch website ever since they dropped all the user-submitted content and started uploading real primary and secondary sources. They continue to add records every day and thanks to the help of "civilian" volunteers, more and more of those records are getting indexed every day.

Another recent change to the FamilySearch website is that now you can order microfilm and microfiche to view at your local Family History Center online. I don't drive, which has been part of the reason I've never actually made a visit to my local FHC yet - I would have had to make a trip there to order records and then made another trip back to view them and it would have been a bit of a hassle.

Yes, sometimes I'm a lazy genealogist. It happens to the best of us.

But as part of their recent uploading records effort, I've discovered some great information about my Stutzmann family line, which until that info was posted, was a dead end at about 1775 in Grossbockenheim, Germany. But records from the local kirchenbuch (church book) and familienregister (family register) were transcribed that trace this line about three generations and 100 years further back. Which was an awesome find. But transcriptions are at best secondary or even third-generation sources, and sometimes there's pertinent information within the original document that the transcriber didn't feel was worth copying, but which you might find important or at least interesting, and so I finally bit the bullet and ordered my very first microfilms from the LDS. And because I always go big or go home, I ordered 5 of them. (At $5.50 a pop they're not exactly free but still waaay cheaper than ordering records from, say, the NYC municipal archives, state archives, or NARA).

The website said it could take up to six months for orders to go through, but I got the e-mail today that they had been shipped, which I'm very excited about. It's been awhile since I've felt anything but frustrated by genealogy research. The records are all in German of course but in the past few months where I've had some luck with my German lines I've gotten familiar with some of the important words and the layout of their records, so I'll brush up on that ahead of time and bring some cheat sheets with me, but I'm feeling really good about this. And if this experience continues to go well, I already have other records I've jotted down for other family lines that I'd like to look up on microfilm.

It's nice (and a relief!) to feel excited about genealogy again!


  1. I am so happy you are feeling recharged in your research. I am anxious to read what you learn about from those sources. :)

  2. Good for you, Mary Ellen! Good luck with the German records!

  3. Thank you both! You know I'll post about whatever I find - and April, I think this is exactly what I need to take another run at Jacob!