I opted not to attend RootsTech 2013. I had a great time last year, but I have come to realize that my priorities at the present time lean more toward research than conferences. So, instead of RootsTech, I fly to Salt Lake City on Wednesday, returning on Sunday. This means I will have three full days in the Family History Library (FHL) to do research in German church records.
A couple years ago I received from a newly found “cousin” a lot of data on the ancestors of Johanna Catarina Venninger (born 1796 in Adelshofen, Baden). This included names, events (baptism / marriage / death), dates, locations. While not documented, he indicated that he had done his research using FHL microfilms. Recently I have supplemented that data via New.FamilySearch and, more recently, Family Tree. Last year during, as part of my RootsTech trip, I was able to document 66 of Johanna Venninger’s relatives. Next week I have my sights set on 173 more. That will leave me with 70 (for whom I have cities of origin / residence, but no dates).
Preparation: Last year’s research was my first at the FHL and my first time to use a microfilm reader. The newness of it all slowed me down. This year I feel more ready to approach the research task. Here has been my process of preparation:
- I generated individual reports in RootsMagic (my preferred genealogy database) listing all the events that happened in my key ancestral villages in Germany: Adelshofen, Eppingen, Ittlingen, Kürnbach and Sulzfeld in Baden; Leonbronn, Neipperg, Stetten and Waiblingen in Württemberg. I saved these reports as word processing documents for further work in subsequent steps.
- I crossed out each event for which I had a digital copy of the event from the respective church registers and for which I also had entered the appropriate source citation in RootsMagic.
- I searched FamilySearch.com for the microfilm numbers and descriptions for each of the respective parishes. This data was entered into a spreadsheet on which I separated out each type of record (and the order in which those record types were to be found on the microfilm).
- I then took the documents generated in Step 1 (above); removed those records for which I already had digital images; added the microfilm number and location on that microfilm for each event yet to be found; and then, finally, generated a final document for each parish indicating the order in which I will search through the respective microfilms. These sheets will be my research outlines.
At FHL: While at the FHL, I will research the parish registers in the following order: Adelshofen (69 records), Kürnbach (20 records), Neipperg (22 records), Sulzfeld (19 records), Ittlingen (12 records), Waiblingen (11 records), Stetten (11 records), Leonbronn (9 records). As I find each record:
- I will take a digital image of the record using CamScanner on my Asus Transformer table or myDroid Razr HD cellphone. I will make the document and film number next to its respective event on the appropriate research outline (#4 above). For Adelshofen I will create 4 separate documents (each with 15-20 images). For each the other localities I will have one document.
- I will also note on the research outline those events I did not find.
- As I find marriage records of couples for whom I do not have the birth surname of the woman or the parents of either party, I will make note of that information (and appropriate locality) to aid further research (if time allows). I will add by hand this data to the appropriate research outline.
- If, as I work my way through the various microfilms, I find others with one of the surnames related my my ancestral lineage, I will make a digital copy and note as much pertinent information as I can – date, event, person(s), town. I have prepared surname lists for each of the communities, based on my current records in RootsMagic.
Follow-Up: If I have extra time while in Salt Lake City or, more likely, after I get home:
- I will scan my annotated research outlines and save them to my external HD, Evernote, and Dropbox.
- I will upload the CamScanner files (PDF documents) to Dropbox and Evernote.
- I will separate out the individual files contained in each PDF document (I have found that screenshots is an effective way to do this) and save these individual files to my external HD and to Box. They will be titled: Surname, Name(s), (Reference # for direct line ancestors), Event, Date, Locality.
- I will save each image to my FileGrove account, labeling each picture with Surname, Name(s), Keywords, Title, Caption, Source Citation, and Location. I can also add a Note (transcription / translation or other additional information).
- Since I already have the individuals / events / dates / locality in my RootsMagic database, I will enter the appropriate source citation for each event. For any new data, I will make the appropriate additions to RootsMagic (including source citations).
- I will create a new research outline for each locality in which I still have undocumented people / events.
- Take a deep breath, shout “Hoorah!”, do the genealogy happy dance!!!!!
I know that I have set a rather ambitious goal for myself. Last years trip to FHL took about 9 months to complete the organization, data entry, citations, backup, etc… and I only got 66 records recorded. This year I can build on last year’s experience. The FHL (and microfilmreaders) will be more familiar. I am better prepared. I have a clearer understanding of what needs to be done after I make digital copies of microfilm records. I have a better storage system. And, as always, I am the eternal optimist, with a passion for learning more about my heritage. Salt Lake City, Here I Come!