Saturday, March 31, 2012

Family History Library, Salt Lake City Research Trip, Part 1: Preparation & Initial Discoveries

The Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah is a dream destination for many genealogists, including me. I have often read about the wealth of materials there. When my husband decided to ski in Utah this year I was interested. Because I do not ski I usually stay at home when he heads west to ski. Recently when he gathered his poles & skis I tagged along. When my husband, our daughter and my brother headed to the slopes each morning I climbed into our rental jeep and drove into the city.

          My plan was to discover more about my Irish roots before my upcoming trip to Ireland. Books, journals and websites suggest you find out as much as you can about your Irish family before heading to Ireland. The Family History Library, I have read, contains many sources for Irish research.

          To prepare for both my Utah and Ireland trips I reviewed my data and sources for each of the family branches I hope to learn more about: Brady, Coyle & Mullane. I prepared ‘Quick Notes’ on each of those three branches, condensed into two or three sheets of paper that I can easily carry along with me. They include basic information including sources, a time line that includes the family’s movements over the years and a list of questions I’d like answered. I also have an iPad with the ancestry app which links to the Family Tree Maker 2012 program on my home laptop. I find it much easier to travel with my lightweight iPad rather than my laptop. And, if technology should fail, I have my “Quick Notes’.

          On my first morning in Utah I was nervous as I navigated our rental vehicle from Park City, up and over the mountains, to Salt Lake City. I quickly found inexpensive parking near the library, grabbed my shoulder bag full of information and walked the wide, clean sidewalks to the library.

          I was surprised to discover at the FHL:
1.    I did not have to sign in as I entered.
2.    I did not have to put my jacket, shoulder bag or anything else in a locker.
3.    There were many more young people there than I usually see at libraries & archives.

I had printed out a copy of the library’s floor plan from the website. I knew I wanted to head down to the second basement for British/Irish research. A very friendly floor manager walked right over to me as I stepped off the elevator. He was delighted to discover it was my first day in Utah and offered to lend a hand. However, once he heard I was doing research in Ireland, beginning with my Mullane family in Clonmel, County Tipperary, his smiled dimmed. He passed me on to someone else saying, “It’s her first day In Utah. Let’s see if we can help her.”    She looked at my Mullane ‘Quick Notes’ and decided I should begin with a search for the 1866 marriage record for Daniel & Brigid (English) Mullane. While it was nice to view & copy the record it yielded no new information.

Making paper copies of films or books at the FHL:
1.         There are, on each level, vending machines that you use to purchase copy cards valued at $2, $5, $10 or $20. (8 ½ x 11 copies are 5 cents.) You need coins or bills to purchase these cards.
2.         Signs on these vending machines say credit/debit cards will soon work in these machines.
3.         Once purchased you simply swipe your card at the copier.
4.         There are several copiers on each level.
5.         Notices say you can only make 5 copies at a time if people are waiting. While I was there this was not an issue. There were enough machines to keep everyone happy.

Digital copies
          I was not aware that I could have taken along a flash drive and copies images directly onto the drive. That would save steps if you plan to scan your paper copies.

          In general I found that I was prepared for my visit to the library, although I would have taken along a flash drive if the website had given me more information on the procedures at the library.  The library was nicely organized and the staff was very friendly and ready to offer help.
          (Continued in my next blog.)

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