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Al Poulin
31 October 2005, 10:02 PM
I would appreciate recommendations from people who have used microfilm records at the Family History Library (FHL), Salt Lake City.

I have visited the FHL several times, making great use of hard copy books. I have also used microfilmed vital records for limited, focused research. Late next week, I will return to Salt Lake City for more research. In preparation, I am using Reunion to enter data available from several marriage dictionaries or indexes published on French Canadian marriages. All of my ancestry is from Quebec and Acadia, and I have French language proficiency.

On this next trip I want to use the FHL microfilm marriage records to validate the data from the dictionaries and to capture all related information about each marriage and the individuals involved. In these records, the information is not entered on a form but is written in narrative, following a loosely standard order. In most cases, there will be several to many marriage records of interest in each parish. Corrolary to this will the presence of records of baptism and burial on the film rolls.

There are a number of ways to do this. Among them:

1. First, and common to each of the following alternatives, is to double check parents' names and date/place of marriage. Then,
2. Copy each record to paper by removing the microfilm from the film reader to the dedicated film copy machines in a separate room. Enter this data to Reunion at home and have the backup paper copy on file.
3. Translate and transcribe additional information from each record to paper forms at the reader station. Enter this data to Reunion at home.
4. Translate and transcribe additional information from each record directly into Reunion on a laptop at the reader station.
5. Copy each record with a digital camera (no flash) at the film reader.

In my own observation, I have seen few people using laptops at film reader stations, and the use seems to be mostly for reference and not for steady use of the keyboard. I have yet to see people using digital cameras, although there has been mention of the practice in ReunionTalk.

I am interested in knowing what methodology, whether one of those mentioned above or some other way, has worked best for you. If you tried one method and gave it up for another, why?

Many thanks for sharing your experience.

Barbara Northan
01 November 2005, 06:15 PM
I can't answer most of your message, but people from our local FHL who have gone to Salt Lake City lately have been able to burn films onto CDs. You have to buy the CDs from them, but it's inexpensive. If you want to use a digital camera, I'd call before going and ask if it is permitted. You could also get more info on burning CDs.

Barbara Northan

Ken Ozanne
01 November 2005, 06:40 PM
I would appreciate recommendations from people who have used microfilm records at the Family History Library (FHL), Salt Lake City...Al & probably others,

I get to FHL about once a year on average, travelling from Australia. My primary concern is to make each visit as productive as possible.

I arrive with a list of films I want to use and book time on the microfilm to CD machines each day. (There are two on level 2 and one ech on B1 and B2.) Then I take as many films as I can use in a 1 hour booking and just scan what I need from each to hard disk and burn everything onto my CD at the end of the session. These machines are way underused and I often find I can go two or three hours before someone else books the machine. So I take more than an hours worth of copying each session.

A lot of the films I use have very poor images and I often take up to five shots at various settings to maximise the chance of reading it when I get home. I save all but atrocious images in hopes of being able to put them together with PhotoShop when I get home.

Films on red spindles may have prohibitions on copying. I don't fully understand - some are OK - but it is best to check with an attendant if one of these shows up.

As far as I know, this is the most efficient use of time at FHL.

Best,
Ken

MabryBenson
01 November 2005, 06:42 PM
Burning the pages on a cd is possible. The problem there is that most of the time you have to sign up ahead for a reader/burner, and are limited to 1 hr per day. You can stay longer if no one wants the machine. So you want to already know what you want to copy, and have the films at hand. I personally think this works only when you have many pages to copy off one film. A minor annoyance is that you can't read any of the saved files until you close out and burn, after which you cannot add any more files, but have to start a new cd. If you do burn on a cd, consider going to another floor for a more available machine. But it is a great way to store lots of images compactly.

I have not been able to avoid the reflection of the film reader light in trying to use my digital camera, so gave up on that.

You next will have to decide whether you want to spend the time transcribing, or the money to copy pages. Time is always too short in Salt Lake. My rule for films is that if there is only a few pages, I copy. If there is a lot to do on a film in terms of time, I order the film from home and spend my time at home, not in Salt Lake. If these are really your ancestors, you likely want the hard copy anyway. I copy, with a quick check of what is there, then save real reading to do in my motel room or at home.

You may well find that after you confirm a few transcriptions, you will hopefully find them accurate, and not feel the need to reconfirm them all.

Save some time for brousing what is available, and looking for 'iffy' records on films that you wouldn't spend the money to order. You can speed thru a lot of possibilities in a short time.

SVass
01 November 2005, 07:01 PM
I strongly suggest that you bring a keychain drive along. All of their computers have a connection including one in the microfilm printer area which has a digitizer. I used it to copy a number of pages a few weeks ago. I also brought my wi-fi computer and if you sit on the third floor near the window, you can piggy-back onto the web via the Best Western system. (As I was staying there, I feel no guilt.) sam

jbkeene
01 November 2005, 07:23 PM
I haven't been to the Salt Lake Library but use my local library extensively and have often used my digital camera to take pictures of films. To avoid getting nasty light reflections, take along some plain white paper and put it down on the film reader. This diffuses the reflections. Another important thing if you do it this way is to get a film reader in a very dark place or block out the extra room light with a coat or some other large object. I personally thing the CD writers sound fantastic and plan to use those when/if I ever get to Salt Lake but these are tips in case you don't have that machine available.
Jocelyn

Art Sivigny
01 November 2005, 08:10 PM
Am using method 2 with films rented from FHL. 'Course the local genealogy library has film reader with built-in printer. Also been scanning the paper at home and linking the result after judicious cropping and enhancing.
I envy you your French language proficiency. Been having terrific time reading some of those old records especially the barely legible hand-writing, bleed-thru from opposite page, water damage, etc.
Art

Venita Roylance
01 November 2005, 09:13 PM
I would appreciate recommendations from people who have used microfilm records at the Family History Library (FHL), Salt Lake City...Hi Al,

It looks to me like you have a very good plan for researching. I'll just mention a couple of things which have been useful for me when I have visited the FHL.

I normally take my iBook with me to the microfilm reading station when I am trolling through parish records or other similar sets of vital records. I create a spreadsheet (I still use AppleWorks) with appropriate column titles and fill in the information as I go through the filmstrip. I title the page with the information I will later use to create the source reference. Then I extract data that looks like it applies to my family line, knowing that I will take time later to analyze it and enter the info I am sure about into Reunion. I also save the spreadsheet, in case new connections show up later.

The Library has hardware which allows saving digital images to a cd from a filmstrip. (Ask about it at the help desk on the floor where you are working.) You may wish to save digital images instead of printouts - or you may wish to do both. I once made a cd of most of the images of a parish record which includes several of my family lines. I use it on my computer at home to do further research. (If you choose to do that, you must obey the copyright laws and only use the information for yourself and not publish it on the web or elsewhere.) I believe there are cds available at the library, or you can bring your own CD-RW.

Enjoy your trip!

Yours,

Venita

netty
01 November 2005, 09:19 PM
I like the ideas already posted and will share 2 more that I haven't seen mentioned yet.

1) Do you homework before you go. Kind of obvious, but there may be some who don't. You can save huges amounts of time before by identifying the films & film #'s you want to view on the familysearch.org website. The specific URL to the FHL catalog is http://www.familysearch.org/Eng/Library/FHLC/frameset_fhlc.asp .

2) When you make hard copies, immediately write the film # (at the very least) on the back so you know the source information & can record it along with your information when you get home and are ready for data entry.

theKiwi
01 November 2005, 10:52 PM
You don't need to buy the CDs from the FHL - last year I took my own blank CDs and used them in the film ------> CD machines.

I have a Kensington security lock for my iBook, and so locked it to one of the tables in the corner of the British section where I worked for each segment of the day (didn't leave it there when I went for lunch for example), with it plugged into the Ethernet connections that were provided on the table for internet, so no need to go sit by a window and piggyback of a Wi-Fi somewhere.

Maybe someday I'll get processed all that I gathered there, and be ready to go back for another lash at it.

Cheers

Roger

kurali
02 November 2005, 01:45 AM
I would appreciate recommendations from people who have used microfilm records at the Family History Library (FHL), Salt Lake City.I have only visited Salt Lake City once, but I have visited other genealogy research libraries with similar holdings. The one thing I really enjoyed was the separate library. I made it a point to photocopy every title page, table of contents and applicable index page for books that pertained to my family. The good thing about that is you can always order photocopies when you get home. The photocopies helped a lot when I was entering data into sources in Reunion.

As for the microfilms... If it was a handwritten account, I used the microfilm reader to make a copy. If the copy came out good (not always true), I stopped there. I never have enough time to handwrite a lot of the info. I always fear just having the new infomation in my laptop because what if something happens to it during the trip or on the way home. I used to burn a CD each night after conducting research because I was so paranoid about that.

I had some luck with my digital camera. Sometimes I could not get far enough away from the reader screen to take a picture that would grab the entire screen.

I think the key issue is how much time do you want to spend copying and entering data while you're away. I am more in a "grab" everything I can find and sort through it later mode.

Paula

Al Poulin
02 November 2005, 11:59 AM
I am the original poster for this thread, and could not wait for this afternoon's e-mail version of ReunionTalk. I thank everyone for their answers on this, from yesterday afternoon even to midnight!

I'll have to give the FHL's CD burner machines a second thought. When I looked at them and watched people going through the process last year, I thought that it took a lot of time. Ken Ozanne's and Venita's comments indicate I was wrong.

Are the CD images on your computer screen at home or from your printer as sharp as the paper images from the film copy machines at FHL? Some of the film records are barely readable in the film reader, and even the sharpest copier loses some content. In the past few years, the new film copiers have done much better for me. Years ago, the old copiers were pretty bad.

I was not aware of the keychain drive output. This would bypass the CD burner machine. Thank you Sam Vass.

With the keychain drive, are you happy with the sharpness of the images when you got home? How much storage space does an image take? Or ten images? Say I bring a half-gig or a 1 GB flash drive, how many images could I store? I'd probably want to transfer them to my wife's laptop at the end of the day. (Or maybe buy a new iBook, since the old G3 Lombard has a 4 GB hard drive.)

Marby Benson and Art Sivigny mentioned using the local Family History Centers for the long haul. The center closest to my home closed down, and their film readers were very tired. I'll have to check out the new center's equipment, about 30 minutes away. Thanks for confirming that alternative.

And thanks everyone for your basic research reminders.

Al Poulin

SVass
02 November 2005, 06:40 PM
I am the original poster for this thread, and could not wait for this afternoon's e-mail version of ReunionTalk.
With the keychain drive, are you happy with the sharpness of the images when you got home? How much storage space does an image take? Or ten images? Say I bring a half-gig or a 1 GB flash drive, how many images could I store? I'd probably want to transfer them to my wife's laptop at the end of the day. (Or maybe buy a new iBook, since the old G3 Lombard has a 4 GB hard drive.)
Al Poulin

The images are TIF and in my case range from 1 to 1.7 meg each. They are exactly the same as the CD images and slightly better than print outs. Yes, I transferred them to my laptop which also can burn cds and dvds. Their computers also connect to the internet and they have free access to certain paid genealogy services. The keychain drive can also download those files. The usb port is a cable from the back of the machine around to the front with the proper connector for your device. One of the ladies near the reference section showed me the esoteric pc commands to save the files. With reference to the ethernet connection, it wasn't functioning properly when I was there; so, I used my wi-fi. sam

Ken Ozanne
03 November 2005, 05:57 PM
I am the original poster for this thread, and could not wait for this afternoon's e-mail version of ReunionTalk. I thank everyone for their answers on this, from yesterday afternoon even to midnight...Al,

Various people filled in most of what I forgot. But someone said you have to start a new CD each session. Not so - they use Nero Express which can add to a data CD each session until it is full.

I mostly use JPEG files which run about a megabyte each (from memory) which would get about 700 images onto a CD. I found I could scan a double page about half the time, so that would be about 1000 pages per CD.

My ibook only has 30 gig of hard drive. I'm finding that a significant limitation. It is easy to use a flash drive instead of CD and I have been told that it is also possible to use your own external hard drive. (I have not done that.)

Best,
Ken