Saturday, September 24, 2011

Remotely accessing Family History Library films

Today's email included a lengthy "look-up" request from someone who lives in Tel-Aviv. While Ol' Myrt rarely accepts research assignments, this gives me a chance to discuss how researchers may access records on Family History Library microfilm without visiting Salt Lake City in person.

Visit but don't rely solely on the "search by ancestor name" option. Last week FamilySearch added 16 million document images, yet typically only about a million are indexed per week. So be sure to scroll down the main page and click the desired region of the world to scroll through the title list of both browsable and indexed collections that may mention your ancestor.
Unfortunately, the FamilySearch digital records collections don't include the microfilm number in the title, but comparing the title and time period may lead to finding the document mentioning your ancestor. It was here that I found the following record collection that may be of interest to my reader from Tel-Aviv:
In the case of Tel-Aviv, there is no local Family History Center, but there are over 4,500 throughout the world. Most microfilm and microfiche in the Family History Library Catalog can be borrowed at minimal cost to view at one's local center. Using this system, I managed to prepare for a trip to Germany back in 1995 by viewing all church records on film, freeing up more on-site research time for those localities where  records were available only in original form.

Even though Mr. Myrt and I love to do on-site courthouse research, we look for record groups online first and then on microform. Our last resort is to ask the clerk of the court to pull a folio or record book. Since courthouse clerks are very busy with the current docket and have precious little time to hear our long ancestral quest stories, we make specific requests as succinctly as possible.

One cannot expect anyone to look at fifteen microfilms to solve a family history challenge without compensation. Value the time of a distant researcher and make arrangements to reimburse for time and expenses. Consider that in my case, while I have a home in the greater Salt Lake City area, it takes me about 45 minutes to drive each way, not to mention the cost of gasoline and parking. Alternately, I may pay for taking Trax, our high-speed rail system. Yes, there are some Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness folks, and others who will FindAGrave for you. But the request made by my DearREADER is time consuming and not a single quick look-up. Analysis isn't within the purview of a look-up volunteer who has not studied your previous research.

Let me share this marriage record research request in case there is a someone in Salt Lake City who will accept this contract for services with my DearREADER after communicating with directly to establish fees and a payment process. This is more than a look-up request, typically restricted to one book or microfilm. In addition to an understanding of the marriage records of New York City and 20th century passenger arrival records, this requests involves experience with the location Glusk, Russia and its various alternate names as it might be listed in a marriage license. Note: It is the marriage license application, not the marriage certificate or marriage return that's most likely to mention the age and birth place of the bride and possibly her full birth date and parents' name.
DearMYRTLE: I’d like to ask you or some of your colleagues to look through 15 marriage certificates to find out which one of the brides in Manhattan & Bronx in 1920-1927 by name Dora Friedman was born in 1896 in Glusk, Russia, father Mozes (Moshe, Moisey) Friedman, mother Bathia (Basia) and came to the USA in 1913 as Dwoire Friedman, age 17.
 Certificate n-s – FHL roll n-s  1360                   1953949  515                     1643074  8089                   1643141  14844                 1653423  21139                 1653289  13223                 1643404  7451                   1643643  17556                 1643709  21656                 1643840  9913                   1644050  16200                 1653424  539                     1954510  25677                 1643953  116                     1954628  18378                 1643408
Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt    :)
Your friend in genealogy.

1 comment:

  1. Via email:

    Why not suggest to your Israeli contact that she order documents directly from FHL? Once she has the NYC marriage cert numbers (from ItalianGen, I presume), she can get on the FHL site and located the appropriate microfilm. Then fill our the FHL Request for Photocopies (census, microfilm, etc.) form with eight of the documents requested (only 8 at one time may be ordered). At only $2 per marriage certificate, this is a bargain that can't be beat. For me it has always taken 10 days to one month to get the records. If one sets priorities among the certificates ordered for those most likely to be the correct ones, one may get the correct cert on the first try and not have to order the second batch.

    At most this will cost $30 and take a couple of months to get all of them. Such a deal!

    Emily from
    Phoenix, AZ