Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I'm Good, I'm Bad

I'm Good...
I can't find everything I want/need on the internet. Sometimes I go to the Ohio Historical Society Archives Library (OHS) to search their newspapers or other resources on microfilm or in some of their books. Sometimes I go to the Columbus Metropolitan Library (CML) (which has genealogy resources for every state, inherited from the State Library of Ohio when some statesmen decided that genealogy resources didn't belong in the state library) to search through their books. I find both places very useful in different ways.

When I go to these places, I prepare in advance. For OHS, I prepare a chart with a list of the people I want to find, the date of the event, what the event is, and the microfilm roll number or numbers. On my chart is space to make notes indicating the beginning and ending dates of my search, which is especially useful if I don't find anything, as well as space for other notes. For CML, I prepare a list with the same information as for OHS and have already looked up the call numbers for whatever books I want to look through.

When I find an obituary, a marriage announcement, deed information, or whatever it is I've been searching for, I carefully adjust the microfilm reader so that the image is large and in focus then I print it. When it comes out of the printer, I even more carefully note on the back of the paper the name of the newspaper, the day and date it was published, the page and column number where I found the information, and the microfilm roll number. I'm equally careful if I'm looking at an index of government records or a city directory or other book. Isn't that good?

I'm Bad...
When I get home around dinner time I'm usually exhausted and my eyes are sore from spending the day in a dark room watching the microfilm roll by. Unless I'm very, very excited by some find at either place, my papers usually stay in the portfolio I took with me until later in the evening or the next day (and sometimes even longer). Then I move the papers into separate surname folders and pull them out when I'm working on a particular family and am ready to add the information to my genealogy program.

The reason this is bad - at least for me - is that sometimes these papers with information to be recorded accumulate until there are a dozen or more in the folders. With 15 surname folders, each with a dozen papers.... Well, you can imagine my dilemma. Not only do these folders have photocopies of information to be recorded, they also have notes that I've taken while searching online, notes to myself about what to do next, ideas about connections, etc.

I'm good about being organized and careful. I'm bad about being prompt.

I'm Trying to Be Better...
Again today, for the second time in two weeks, I've started going through my surname folders, pulling out the papers, and recording the information in my genealogy program. I make some progress, and then I have a question about a child or a marriage or whether I can find some other reference, source, or document online somewhere for some event -- and there I am, once again, with more papers going into a file to be recorded later.

I can't decide whether I take two steps forward and one step back, or two steps forward and two steps back. It must be the first because I am making progress . . . little by little. I hope you, dear reader, are not beset by a similar challenging dilemma.


  1. Well, actually I can relate exactly with your dilemma. Sounds very familiar!

  2. Thanks for sharing. I am starting to get papers stacked up and mixed up. Guess it just goes with the process. :)

  3. You are very lucky, when I go to the Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh I have to search thru the listing of microfilm reels. Then I go thru the reel itself. To print the page I have to take the reel off, walk across the department and place it on the reader that it attached to the printer then and only then can I print it.

    I like the idea of being able to look up all states in one library.

    I have many paper but not all of them are filed.

  4. Debbie, I think it goes with the process for some of us but I think it would be -- I know it would be -- better if we stayed organized. Going through my working files I've found that I've repeated at least two searches. My hope is to work efficiently and take care of papers sooner rather than later. Best wishes for your success in sorting out your papers!

  5. Oh, Claudia, how hard. I don't take for granted that the OHS and CML have put their catalogs online. OHS has about 20 reader/printers but if it's a busy day, we get 15 minutes at a reader/printer, then have to move. The system at Carnegie Library sounds awful because you don't even have the option to start with a printer. One of these days the newspapers will be online, right? (We hope!)

    CML has all states but it doesn't have a lot for all states. I've been fortunate to find Mercer and Butler County, PA, books there, though, which are the ones I need most after Ohio.

  6. As I was reading your post, I was glancing with feelings of guilt at my file folder containing the last printouts I made when I spent an afternoon at the Arkansas History Commission last week.

    Tomorrow may be a good day to dig into that one...


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