Friday, July 27, 2007

Why microfilm is the first choice

"Great job" to Randy Seaver for his feedback blog titled Using the FHLC to find probate records”. The more voices in the wilderness…

Ol’ Myrt agrees wholeheartedly about the need to view microfilm of original documents rather than bother a courthouse clerk. Whenever I speak, I talk with folks about how busy things are at their local courthouse. Late 20th and early 21st century economics and “reductions in force” directives have placed the work of 2-3 people on the desk of one court clerk who struggles with his remaining co-workers to keep up with the current docket. Understanding this workload allows genealogists to comprehend how frivolous letters of requests for photocopies are received in our ancestors’ distant courthouses.

I consider it frivolous to write to a courthouse when the cited source is already available on microfilm, most usually through the Family History Library and its 4,000+ branches known as Family History Centers. My original post suggested ordering the microfiche of the index book before writing for a copy of the actual will.

Randy's blog entry today about 20th Century Property Records at the New York City Municipal Archives is timely. Using technology to provide online access to digital records cuts down on requests to those over-worked clerks. Projects to protect older documents such as regional state archives and LDS Family History Library microfilming are laudable.

Working together, rather than pointing fingers, interested segments of a community should encourage microfilming, digitization, and placing the originals in “cold storage” -- a great alternative to hot, dusty courthouse attics.

By the way, Ol' Myrt doesn’t know what is happening that there has been so much interest in Alabama records research lately.

· Tuscaloosa County Courthouse to scan & destroy originals
· Getting to the original will
· Getting to the original will - Part II
· Tuscaloosa & Greene County AL courthouse records are at immediate risk

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
Your friend in genealogy.

(c) 2007 Pat Richley All Rights Reserved.

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