professional genealogy

First Family History Library Visit

I’m attending my first PMC this week and already I’m learning a lot!
Registration tonight was a great chance to meet colleagues. I’ll get to know them all a lot better when I’m not sleepy…
But even better, I got my first visit to the Family History Library. What a wonderful experience. I’ll admit, I’d imagined the building as significantly larger. It’s only 4 floors, about the size of your average university library. It might possibly be smaller. A few factors make it unique. One you’ll recognize if you’ve ever used the Family Search website. The library has a fabulous record collection, mostly on microfilm – as well as a number of unique histories. In one visit, I was able to examine parish records from my ancestor’s parish in Luxembourg and vital records from a town in New Hampshire. The other unique factor is the staff. The FHL tries hard to answer any question. I had a staff member work one on one to answer my questions about Luxembourg records while I was on the International floor and another help me locate a “missing” vital records index (I was a filing cabinet off).

So what did I learn today?
1) Know exactly what you’re looking for. There are so many resources there. It is easy to become overwhelmed.
2) Come prepared. Having background information helped me quickly identify what information I needed to record and what I could skip.
2) Don’t expect too much of FHL staff. They do anything they can to help, but they don’t have the ability to know how the records function in every country. I’m one of the rare researchers who works with Luxembourger records. Understanding what records would and would not help me saved a huge amount of time.

FHL has an incredible amount of resources and a supportive staff. Doing background work just makes your visit that much more productive. I’m hoping I can spend more time there.

Looking forward to the PMC!


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