Family History Library Extravaganza

For a month that had no plans, March has become quite the adventure:

A 70s themed Grammy party,

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a trip to Utah,

20140307_125021seeing Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band,

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tomorrow a trip to Philadelphia and then on to New Jersey for the weekend.  Oofta. I’m only half way through the month but I daresay that my trip to the Family History Library (FHL) in Salt Lake City, Utah is probably one of the most amazing things I have ever experienced. I just wish I had been better prepared.

I was actually in Utah to visit the family I nannied for while I lived out in New Jersey. It has kind of become a thing that I vacation with them each year so that we get a chance to see each other. We went to the Canyons Resort in Park City with plans to spend the time dining, snowboarding, zip lining, and more but when I found out how to close to Salt Lake City I was going to be, I knew I should plan at least one day to work on genealogy at the Library.ZipLine

The FHL is the largest genealogy hub I have ever heard of and I could easily spend three weeks there full time and still not be finished doing everything that I would like.  Their collection includes over 2.4 million rolls of microfilmed  records; 727,000 microfiche; 356,000 books and serials; over 4,500 periodicals and 3,725 electronic resources. It is absolutely astounding. There is practically a whole floor JUST for Germany!

I was greeted by several very friendly Sisters who helped me to figure out where I might even want to start. Do I go to England where my family just falls off with an apparent baby born out-of-wedlock? Do I go to Ireland where I have almost no information after my great-grandparents? Do I start in Germany where I have a lot of names and dates to work with? Choosing Germany, I searched a couple of branches that come from an island off the north of the country called Fehmarn. A German-speaking volunteer (thank goodness) came to my aide in finding the parish my family went to in Oldenburg and helped me figure out which microfiche I needed. THERE IS NOT ENOUGH TIME IN A DAY! I could have spent weeks just on that floor but instead I obtained five copies of marriage records and moved on, wanting to spend some time on other floors in other countries. One record dates back to 1777 with my fifth great-grandfather Peter Wacker. I can’t even believe I have a copy of that record. Major nerd.

PeterWackerMarriage1777

Next, I moved on to the United Kingdom hoping to start with Ireland. After finding out about how difficult Ireland can be because of a lack of records, the library’s lack of copies of them, etc. I chose to move right on to England. Another road block. OF COURSE most of the English family came from Bloxhom, Oxfordshire  and as the Library has only ONE copy of those parish records, they are kept in a granite vault out in a mountain some where. Yes, you read that correctly, a GRANITE vault INSIDE a MOUNTAIN. Intriguing. It would have taken them a day or two to bring them in for me to look at. It looks like I’m going to be making a better (more organized) trip back to Salt Lake City.

If you are interested in genealogy just go there. It is so worth the trip and I’m warning you to be prepared! See their website here to begin figuring out what you’ll want to look at while you’re there.

This post should have happened last week, but instead it’s happening today when I already have a million other things I’d like to write about. Today is the first day of the Legal Issues in Museum Administration Conference in Philadelphia and conferences always get me fired up about everything museum. Expect a barrage of posts in the next couple of weeks. But, if this post just wasn’t enough of me for you tonight, in honor of our evening reception being held at the Barnes Foundation, you can read my rant about how displeased with that place I am.

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One response to “Family History Library Extravaganza

  • Connie Svoboda

    that is so darn cool! although I would be extremely interested in learning about my family tree, I don’t know that I would want to do the research. Which kind of surprises me. I know very little about I great grandparents and older. In fact none about one set. But I do want to know more. I think about it quite often.

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