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For Yolie: Preparing for Visit to FHC

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By meef98367 - Posted on 06 July 2006

This is what I have found necessary to take to the FHC:

briefcase, with dividers, pockets;
three pens, two black, one red;
a turquoise Sharpie;
mini dry-line correction tapes (you will make boo-boos)
small post-it notes in two colors
an oblong magnifying glass (some FHCs don't have the 60x viewers that really blow images up);
a clip board with loose-leaf pre-printed forms for transcribing records (see form in Nuestros Ranchos files);
a folder to carry extra pre-printed forms;
a pale green sheet of paper (to place on the reader surface to cut the glare)
scratch paper;
individually wrapped anti-bacterial wipes to wipe down surfaces, handles, etc. on readers and keyboards
lists or pedigree charts of individuals known to you for each of your lines, with birthdates, places, etc.
(I now carry a small binder with printouts of the WorldConnect trees I have placed online).
warm sweater to ward off drafts (some places have the air-conditioning on full blast);
bottled water; thermos for hot drink; (do not place near keyboard, only near readers)
lunch bag with sandwich, salad, fruit and or snacks, etc.;
your cell phone;
checkbook and/or cash to pay for copies made and ordering, renewing films

Once you order films, you will be given a patron's copy of the order slip (usually pink). It lists the film number, the locality (title of record), your name and phone number, and it will indicate in a check box if it is a short term, first renewal or extended (permanent) loan. I keep the various slips clipped together in the aforementioned categories, with a piece of scratch paper clipped to the top of each batch to indicate what is in each batch. With the turquoise sharpie, I write in "done" when I complete viewing the entire film, and make a separate batch for those.

If I have to stop in the middle of a film, I place a strip of 1/2 inch by 1 1/2 inch paper folded over the place in the film where I have to pick up viewing again. Then I don't have to write down what page, etc I was on. I then carefully rewind the film making sure the slip of paper stays in place.

The people in the FHC will show you how to load and unload the film from the readers, and how to make photocopies of records you want to keep. I have so many direct ancestors on each film (they lived in the same locality for hundreds of years), that I just transcribe the records, five to a sheet. (Today I filled five sheets). I only photocopy those records where I have had a brick wall, kind of like keeping an award to frame for a goal accomplished.

I am technically challenged and have not gone the advanced route that Arturo and Joseph and others have, such as taking tripods and digital cameras to photograph images from the readers, etc. None of the FHCs where I have gone have the kind of digital copiers either. I have to unload the film from the reader and load it onto another reader that can also photocopy the frames on the films. I have also seen advanced researchers take their laptops or other little gadgets to download things to, but I know nothing of that. I get along just fine anyway.

Good luck on your research,

Emilie Garcia
Port Orchard, WA ---

Emilie, you mention Worldconnect, is that a genealogy site like or I tried to access it with and got nothing...

My first trip to read films at a history center was simple.. a notebook and a couple of pencils.. (I found pencils fade).. My problem was not writing down everything I read, from not copying padrinos and not understanding what I was reading. I did not read or speak Spanish so instead of making a copy of at least one clear record for reference purpose's I just copied surnames I wanted from that one village.. of course I had to do the complete record over in later years but it was a learning experience. I laugh when I look at that notebook now. When I did my first marriage record I didn't realize that family relationships were included so I missed all of that in my copies too. When I discovered much later that one said they were related 3 times removed it all came together as family. Learn as I go and I don't discard my old notebooks even though now I use a laptop for copying records. I used to put records into a notebook, take them home and enter them into my
FamilyTree Maker ancestry program.. double work but I loved it.. Another thing I did not copy in the early years was witness's. I also learned to not take ages as fact, they vary by as much as 15 or 20 years as they get older,from birth, marriage, padrino, witness and death.. My gr-grandmother aged an additional 15 years from marriage to death.. Just some of the things I've learned.

Linda in B.C.

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I was lucky at first, since something told me I must transcribe all the names in a record. My trouble in the beginning was that I did not develop a pre-printed "fill in the blanks" type of form to do the transcribing on. I got such terrible writer's cramp writing "Parents:", "Paternal grandparents:", "Maternal grandparents:", "Padrinos:" etc over and over again. I had previously tried photocopying most of the microfilmed records, but since I seemed to be related to everyone in a particular village, the photocopying got expensive and tedious to do. I also realized early on that if I had a brick wall, I had to go around it by transcribing the records of people who seemed to be cousins or siblings, etc. Then I would take the sheets and sort out the relationships, and lo and behold, I would find a common ancestor and further investigation would lead me to my direct ancestor that was hiding among his relatives.

Also, since so many of my great great grandfather's brothers were named Jose with a saint name after the "Jose", but I could not find my great-great grandfather's birth record, I finally found him by the process of elimination and his birth order. I knew what his saint name was since it appeared in the records of his children, but his birth record and that of some of his brothers only listed them as Jose, no saint name, yet the records of baptisms would show that other people's sons had the Jose and the same saint name for that time period. I think it was Mr. Ryskamp who said that one must transcribe carefully all the records in a village for people with the same surname, then do comparisons, and the relationships will fall into place. It's true. I have gotten so familiar with all the clans in a village, that were I to be transported to that time and place say in the 1840's, I could stop a fellow and ask him his name, and I would know who his wife was, who his parents wer
e and wh
o his children were. Somehow we end up walking where they walked.


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