Genealogy from the perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon, LDS)

Thursday, December 28, 2017

A Family History Mission: Books, Records and Documents

Balance books of estates after payment to heirs
No. 20

Note: You can do a Google search for "A Family History Mission" to see all the previous posts in this ongoing series. You can also search for "James Tanner genealogy" and find them.

FamilySearch Record Preservation Specialists aka missionaries are trained to digitize books, records, and documents of genealogical and historical value. As FamilySearch obtains permission and contracts with individual archives, these volunteers (including me and my wife, Ann) are assigned to do the actual work of digitization. With a specialized digital camera on a custom-made stand, the images are transferred directly to a computer for further processing and ultimately for online access on Here is an example of one of the books we worked on today.

Court records from the Maryland State Archives
 We use black clamps to hold the pages stationary while imaging and black cardboard rectangles to mask those portions of the area around the book that might show in a final online image. The software automatically crops the image of the book and leaves a small margin of black. You can see a final image from the website at the beginning of this post.

We can stand or sit to do the imaging or alternate between standing and sitting. We take frequent breaks to walk around and a longer break for lunch each day.

Of course, in our assignment, the Archive is a pleasant place to work and the Archive employees are very friendly and helpful.

The documents we are working on right now are court documents pertaining to probate and guardianship cases. These files are extraordinarily useful to genealogists because they can list entire families with their relationships. These are the type of documents that have previously only been available to those genealogists searching in person in each of the Maryland counties.

In our second day at the Maryland State Archives, we worked on digitizing hundreds of pages of books like the one shown above on the copy stand.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! This is exciting to me that you are digitizing Maryland records! I have recently discovered my family connections in Washington County, Maryland. I have a really good feeling, you are doing work that will impact my family! Thank you for your service!!