Thursday, January 1, 2015

FGS 2015: December FGS Ambassadors Summary

FGS 2015 Ambassador logo
Six weeks! The FGS 2015 conference will be in full swing in just six short weeks. Are you registered?

Research opportunities in the area are often an extra draw for people considering attending an FGS conference. The vast collection at the Family History Library makes Salt Lake City and FGS 2015 a research location for everyone. (Is it possible there's a genealogist out there who has no reason to visit the FHL?)

During December, we asked the FGS Ambassadors to write about researching at FHL — from past experiences to tips to planning. Check out the full list below. 

The December feature post is from Diane MacLean Boumenot at One Rhode Island Family.

Re-published with permission of the author
A Workbook for My Visit to the Family History Library

A visit to the Family History Library
As an ambassador for the upcoming Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference in February, 2015, to be held in connection with Rootstech at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, I have a lot of work to do to get ready for this conference.

I am arriving several days in advance of the conference to use the Family History Library. It will be my second visit. I am really, really looking forward to it, and preparing much more than you would think.

The notebook idea
I will only get to the Family History Library every few years, at most. Since it’s a chance to access all the microfilm in the world, and lots of books, I need to prepare well to get the most benefit from this.

A couple months ago I was visiting a local city hall archives and ran into a man who was researching a local historical topic. He was asking me a few questions and we got to talking, and he pulled out his notebook. I have to admit I was fascinated by it. He had developed pages of typed notes with pictures and maps, in color, scattered through the pages. I suspected it was, essentially, a draft of the book he hoped to put together. He had the materials printed double sided in color and spiral-bound. It was just maybe 200 pages with the spiral binding. It was lightweight, portable, and easy to use even on cramped tables. He scrawled some notes on it; it was clearly his working copy.

My spiral bound book
My spiral bound book

I couldn’t stop thinking about the little notebook and decided, in November when a coupon came up for a big discount at, that I would try it. I put together my tree charts, color coded according to sections of the tree. I copied into Word some of my blog posts that I thought I would be most likely to want to refer to in the library, downsized the pictures, and saved those as pdf’s. I forgot to add my pdf Evidentia reports, but I would do that another time. I uploaded these separate pdf documents into, then combined them into one book. I made a cover and ordered.

When the spiral book arrived, it was attractive, but I was disappointed at how heavy it was. I forgot lulu uses extra heavy paper for color printing. I think the point of the notebook is that it should NOT be a lot to lug around. And, the paper was shiny, not good for writing on.

A page from the red portion of the chart
A page from the red portion of the chart

Looking at the notebook gave me some new ideas. If I really wanted to write in it, I should leave space for that. And, I decided during my last trip that I might prefer to bring my list of microfilms on, say, a clipboard, instead of using an electronic device. What if I combined these ideas into one custom, spiral notebook?

The workbook for FHL

I realized that what I really wanted was a workbook for my library visit.

So I created a form for collecting my microfilm lists. I wanted to copy the details of the film from the catalog. My pages should be suitable for taking a few notes, since I will mostly be saving scans of each page I need, but I would like to document what I saw and what I saved, and some notes about the content. I also wanted to note in advance on each page what I was looking for, and to check the item off after I was done. I wanted an indication along the edge of which research problem this was part of. I think I will add an extra ruled page on the reverse of each sheet.

My micorfilm form for the notebook
My microfilm form for the notebook

I’ve spent several weeks gathering about 25 pages, and I will work on this for about another month. I’m trying to focus on no more than three or four research problems and to look for unique resources that are either inconvenient or impossible to obtain elsewhere. So far I have found some unusual local records, plus some records from Nova Scotia and England. Given the restrictions in some Rhode Island repositories, I also will be looking at some records that it would be hard to print or photograph elsewhere.

I like to search the catalog by place name or family name, and I’m finding such interesting stuff. Of course, some family genealogy books have now been digitized and I guess I would have to access those on site through a computer.

Another page from the microfilm sheets
Another of the microfilm sheets
I will try, when I am there, to concentrate on reading records and NOT race through trying to capture as many screens as possible. This is difficult for me to do, but I will try. I always feel like I will concentrate better at home, reading what I’ve copied, but then I lose the chance to use new ideas to find additional materials.
Sometimes I dropped images into place that I know I might want to refer to. dropping text and images into the Word document was surprisingly easy - if my ruled lines went over onto the next page, I just deleted some.
Sometimes I dropped images into place that I know I might want to refer to. Dropping text and images into the Word document was surprisingly easy – the form accommodated all that.
I will want to look through the books, and I usually park myself in the stacks for a while looking through everything related to certain locations. I also have started a book list.
The book list, for the notebook
The book list, for the notebook

So the NEW spiral notebook, which I will order in black and white about a month before I leave, will contain:

  • The tree charts 
  • Some useful posts from my blog 
  • The few Evidentia reports I have made so far 
  • The microfilm worksheets 
  • The book list 
I will probably carry this spiral bound book around for about a year to libraries. It will cost less than $10.

The Word document used for the microfilm page is HERE.

The conference
According the the FGS website, combining with Rootstech means “the Expo Hall may possibly be the biggest ever at a U.S. genealogy conference.” Well, that’s exciting, and possibly I may learn about some new products or features when I’m there. I love talking to people who are building new products, and I love asking questions about services I already subscribe to. And no doubt, I will be making a few purchases and I will report on all that when I write about the conference.

I plan to attend about 3 talks per day. I find it hard to listen to more than that. It is hard to choose, and I still haven’t even decided about adding a Rootstech registration for only $39. Plus, I should buy lunch tickets if I want them, before they sell out. Decisions, decisions.

I will have the chance to see people I know and meet new people. I’m really looking forward to it.
New FGS Ambassador:
One new FGS Ambassador joined us during December.
Tessa Keough: The Keough Corner, @tessakeough, Google+ 

December FGS Ambassador Posts:
A Southern Sleuth: FGS 2015-Don't Forget the Family History Library!
Ancestral Breezes: Setting the Stage for Success
Brick Wall Genealogist: The Stars Align in February 2105: FGS, RootsTech, and the FHL
Carolina Girl Genealogy: FGS 2015~The Family History Library~It's All About That Plan!
Confuse the Dead: Wrapping up and getting ready for #FGS2015
Empty Branches on the Family Tree: FGS 2015 & FAMILY HISTORY LIBRARY
From Helen V Smith's Keyboard: Dream Time: FGS, Rootstech and the Family History Library
Genea-Musings: FGS Conference, RootsTech Conference and the Family History Library - a Win-Win-Win For Me
GeneaBloggers: Calling All FGS 2015 and RootsTech Bloggers!
Genealogy by Paula: Preparing for the February FGS Conference and the FHL
In Search of ...?: Motivation Monday - So You're Going to the LIBRARY in Salt Lake City!!
Julie's Genealogy & History Hub: 6 Tips for Visiting the Family History Library During the 2015 FGS & Rootstech Conferences
Littleton Books: The Annual FGS Conference Offers a Great Research Opportunity for Attendees
NoTe's To MySeLf ...: FGS 2015 Is this your 1st Time?
Root Cellar Ramblings: Sentimental Sunday - So You're Going to the LIBRARY in Salt Lake CityWordless (or is it Wordy?) Wednesday : Additional Keynote Speakers for RootsTech/FGS ConferenceThose Places Thursday - FGS Conference Announces Second Keynote Speaker
The Genealogy Search: Getting Ready for FGS 2015: Making a List and Checking it twice!

It's not too late to add your name to the list. Visit the FGS Ambassadors Guidelines page on the conference website to register.

Don't forget to register for FGS 2015. The next six weeks will fly by. 

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