FCHS starts research at library in Salt Lake City

Published 9:10 am Saturday, October 9, 2010

Pat Mulso, Preserving the Past

The Freeborn County Historical Society research group arrived safely in Salt Lake City last Sunday. It was mentioned during our first breakfast out together that I was the only one who brought my spouse, the others are here with strangers is what they told the waitress. Along with saying what happens here stays here, we all had a good laugh, a great breakfast and a full day of research. When we met for dinner after the library closed we found that none of us had taken time for lunch, Arnie had completed his online compliance test, Roger had been to the dentist, Ardus and Marjean were on their way to a home-cooked meal and the rest of us were starved. We headed out to find a place to have dinner and share what we had accomplished during our first day of research and what our plans were for the next day. We had all gone to different areas and were interested to see what each had learned to be shared among us to make the next day more productive.

Pat Mulso

For those of you that are not aware of what I am talking about, we were at the World’s Largest Genealogical Library located in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah. I brought a group out in 2008 and five from that group along with two new researchers joined us on this trip. We all paid our own way and stayed at the Salt Lake Plaza Hotel which is located right next door to the five-floor genealogical library. The library opens at 8 a.m. and closes at 5 p.m. on Mondays and is open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. There are five floors in the library with each dedicated to a different area of research. We started out on Monday morning with an orientation and question time, and then we were each off to different areas. The main floor houses Family Histories and Beginner Assistance. The second floor is U.S./Canada Films (micro films of just about everything you can think of from vital records to land records, church records, census and the list goes on and on and on. The third floor is U.S./Canada Books (county histories, cemetery inscriptions, church records, will indexes, probate indexes, newspaper clips etc. Floor B1 houses the International Records of all kinds including maps and vital records. Floor B2 contains the English-speaking countries such as the British Isles. They have computers on every floor, along with tables available if you want to use your own laptop computer. They have copy machines and printers or you can buy a flash drive and save your documents to that for viewing later on your own computer. They also have rows and rows of microfilm readers and rows and rows and rows of microfilm cabinets that house the microfilm reels that you retrieve yourself for viewing.

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Each floor has a research counter with consultants standing by to answer your questions and help you locate records. They will also help you to figure out where you need to look next depending on where you are in your research and what you want to find out next. Using their computers you can also access many websites that are a paid service and you get to use them free while at the library. The first day I checked that option out and found one of the sites revealed FBI file records — that was quite interesting. I was actually able to read the notes taken when agents were talking with one of my relatives. Wow! You just never know what you might find when you least expect — I also found one was a suspect in a case.

I attended a Heritage Preservation Conference a few weeks ago and was not surprised when a statement was made stating that local county historical societies that have libraries will find that more and more of their patrons will be coming in to use their library resources verses touring their museums. I noticed that several years ago at our location. They might be looking for a long lost relative, researching a business that their ancestor founded or tracing the history of an organization or the house they just purchased, and we can help with all of those areas.

The museum will be hosting a four-hour AARP Defensive Driving Class on Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2010, from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. The cost is $19 and you must pre-register. You will receive your certificate the night of the class.

We started our membership drive Sept. 1 and want to say thank you to the more than 100 members who have already renewed their 2011 membership. We appreciate the continued support of our membership and the community businesses and organizations. With the loss of all funding from the city of Albert Lea in 2010 this year has been challenging to replace that support. We are always looking at new ways to bring income to the general budget and grants to help with programs, events and special projects.

Have a great week and remember that it is never too early or too late to start working on your family history! What would you like your great-grandchildren to know about you? If you write the story you can tell it your way, if someone else writes it in 50 or 100 years, they will give their interpretation — will it be the same?

Pat Mulso is the executive director of the Freeborn County Historical Museum in Albert Lea.