Julie's Genealogy & History Hub

Julie's Genealogy & History Hub -

FamilySearch: Digitized Records Hiding Out in the Catalog

If you’re like me, you anxiously await the weekly email from FamilySearch that lists all the new historical records added to their online collection. When FamilySearch recently announced the discontinuation of lending microfilms to Family History Centers, I caught mention that all films that had been lent in the past few years were now digitized. Now, I know I’ve rented my share of films and I swear I haven’t seen any of those records come through in the weekly email. I even went out and checked the Historical Record Collections—nope, not there. What gives?

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Following Specific Posts on Facebook + A Bonus Tip

If you’re a genealogist on Facebook, you probably encounter lots of posts from genealogy friends or groups that you want to keep tabs on. Say someone asks a question about resources in an area of interest. You may not have an answer, but you’d love to hear what others might say. What are you to do? Check back every few days (assuming you can even find the post again)? There must be a better way!

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When in Doubt, Use a Dictionary

Last summer I attended the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research. I was in Thomas Jones’s class Writing and Publishing for Genealogists. The class was well worth the money and I learned a lot about all things writing and editing in the world of genealogy.

One of the best tips I got was simple—use a dictionary! For a moment I thought, “well isn’t that obvious?” Sure, I use it regularly to look up correct spellings and definitions. But as Dr. Jones went on, I realized just how useful a dictionary could be.

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Locate Newspapers in Other Towns

Newspapers are great resources for genealogists. Sometimes newspapers are overlooked because they can be difficult to search and/or hard to access. The efforts by many genealogy record-providing websites, Chronicling America, and local libraries are making it easier to access newspaper collections, and because of OCR (optical character recognition) technology, searching newspapers is a bit easier.

There are tons of tips I could offer related to newspaper research. I chose this one because it is often overlooked. When we use newspapers in our research, we tend to head straight to the newspaper(s) published in the town where our target person lived. Of course, there is nothing wrong with this strategy, but let me offer a supplemental option—also look for newspapers in other towns. Why? There are several reasons, actually, so let’s take a look.

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Researching My Luxembourg Roots: Using Luxemburger Gazette & Luxemburger Club Records


It’s been awhile since I’ve been able to do any research on my Luxembourg roots. A little over a week ago, I was able to attend a lecture entitled “Luxembourgers in Aurora,” presented by Sara Jacoby, the executive director of the Luxembourg American Cultural Society. Since my Luxembourgers settled in Aurora, Illinois, I did not want to miss this presentation, so I made arrangements to go. And since the lecture was held in Aurora, I had to get in some research time while I was there.

My first stop was the Aurora Public Library. I haven’t been there since 2011, when they were in the old building. The new building has a special, climate-controlled room for their local history and genealogy collection. Here I was able to explore a wide variety of sources I didn’t get to look at on my last trip in 2011. I was also able to dip my toes into the Luxemburger Gazette, which they have on microfilm. This was my first experience with this newspaper, and only my second experience in German newspapers (you can read my post Checking Out Chicago’s Old German Newspapers for information and tips).

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What Genealogist Doesn’t Love a Good White Board?


With the help of two Amazon gift cards for Christmas, I finally purchased a white board.  While I do have some wall space in my new home office, I prefer mobile white boards so that I can move them around, and they often have a double-sided white board (some have a white board on one side and a bulletin board on the other) so you get a two-for-one deal. 

I placed my order on Sunday, January 3, and it arrived safely on Friday, January 8.  My husband and I assembled it yesterday.  I took a quick picture and posted it to Facebook, and had a few comments and IMs asking about it.  So instead of replying to each person, I figured I’d write a blog post, because what genealogist doesn’t love a good white board?

The model I purchased is Luxor L340.  It’s a double-sided magnetic white board that’s 4′  wide by 3′  high (the assembled height is just over 5′), with wheels (two locking) for easy mobility.  I paid $245.99 (the current price is $249.99), which is a bargain since mobile white boards of this size can run in the $500-600 range. 

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6 Tips for Visiting the Family History Library During the 2015 FGS & Rootstech Conferences

FGS 2015 Ambassador BadgeIf you are planning to attend either the FGS 2015 Conference or the 2015 Rootstech Conference in Salt Lake City come February, you will likely want to swing around the corner and get some research in at the Family History Library.  Having visited the FHL a few times (and once during a Rootstech conference), I thought I’d share a few tips with you for getting the most out of your visit.

#1 – Plan Ahead of Time

This is actually two tips in one.  First, you’ll want to figure out about how much time you will be able to spend at the FHL.  Will you be there are few extra days before or after the conference?  Have you gone through the schedule for the conference(s) you are attending to see if there are pockets of time to squeeze in an hour or so of research?  Note, I have not heard about extended hours, and according to the schedule as of today, the FHL will have regular hours during the conference (they will be open on Monday, February 16, which is President’s Day).

Once you have figured out about how much time you’ll have for research, you can start combing through your to-do lists, research plans, etc.  Pick enough items to keep you busy to make the most of your time at the FHL.  You may want to have a list of high priority items, as well as a list of other things ready to go just in case you have extra time.  Keep in mind that with two major events right around the corner at the convention center, drawing in tons of people, the FHL will be BUSY!

#2 – Order Vault Films Day 1

If you have research that involves films that are in the vault, you will need to order them.  Be sure to do this Day 1 to ensure you have enough time to get the film and review it.  Any one of the staff or volunteers can direct you in how to order these films.

#3 – Come Prepared

When the FHL is super-busy, I tend to take high-quality photos of the microfilm (and even books), since the digital microfilm scanners are usually occupied.  You might want to consider this option, especially during the conferences (and don’t forget to bring plenty of memory cards for your camera).  If you do take your chances with  the scanners, be sure to have a few USB flash drives to save your digital images (or cash if you plan to make paper copies).  As an aside, when using the scanners, please abide by the FHL’s time limit.

You’ll also want to bring whatever it is that you use while conducting research on-site, whether it’s paper files/notebook, a tablet, a laptop, or a combination.  I seem to go back and forth with bringing my laptop to the library or just bringing my Kindle.  It sort of depends on what I’m working on.  I have been able to get by for a week’s worth of research at the FHL with just my Kindle, using the Families app designed to work with Legacy Family Tree (you can read about my experience here; also there is a similar app that works with GEDCOM files, which you can read about here).  The last time I was at the FHL, I was working on a specific case and I needed access to a variety of files that were stored on my laptop, so I usually had that with me at the library.  Bring whatever you need to effectively work on the research you plan to do.

#4 – Wear Comfortable Shoes & Dress In Layers

This is also a conference tip.  You’ll be doing a lot of walking, both at the conference and the library.  Make sure you have comfortable walking shoes.  Additionally, the temperature can fluctuate at both the convention center and the library, so dress in layers to keep comfortable.

#5 – Research Consultants

Take advantage of the research consultants that are available on each floor of the FHL.  If you are stuck on a problem or need helping reading a foreign language, this is the time to ask.  And do it right away.  The sooner you ask for help and get some guidance, the more time you can spend working on it at the library.  Waiting until the last minute to consult with these fantastic people puts you is a position where you’ll likely have to wait until your next trip to follow up (or order films to your local Center and miss out on additional help from the experts).

#6 – Find a Quiet Place

Because the library will be busy, it can feel a little chaotic.  If you’re like me and can’t focus with all the craziness around you, try to scope out a spot that’s quiet.  I like spots with little foot traffic, preferably on the end of a row (otherwise I feel claustrophobic).  Another tip—go to the International floor.  This is usually the quietest floor (and there is usually less of a wait for the scanners).  You CAN bring films from other floors down to the International floor, you just have to remember to return them to the correct floor/spot.

That about sums up my six tips for visiting the Family History Library, particularly during a busy time in conjunction with a conference.  If you have other tips, please feel free to share them by leaving a comment below.