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

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

A Family History Mission: Learning Our Assignment

The Provo, Utah Missionary Training Center at Night
No. 8

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.

Today was the first day of our second week in the Provo, Utah Mission Training Center or MTC, right next to the Brigham Young University campus. We have driven past the MTC nearly every day and sometimes many times a day for the past three and half years and it is an interesting experience to be in the MTC. Quite a change. The first week of our mission experience was based on learning about missionary work from the Preach My Gospel manual.

This week is focused on training to use the digital cameras during our assignment to work at the Maryland State Archives. Quoting from the website:
The State Archives serves as the central depository for government records of permanent value. Its holdings date from Maryland's founding in 1634, and include colonial and state executive, legislative, and judicial records; county probate, land, and court records; church records; business records; state publications and reports; and special collections of private papers, maps, photographs, and newspapers.
We will be serving as FamilySearch Record Preservation Specialists. Interestingly, we do not wear normal "missionary" clothes or have the black missionary badges because it is a government facility. We will be attending a local Ward and are already making plans to help in the Family History Centers in the area. Will be living in an apartment in Annapolis.

The process of digitizing records is fairly complicated. From negotiating contracts with the record repositories to the actual digitation process there are several steps. Even after the records are digitized it takes several steps to prepare the records for publication online. The end product still needs to be indexed. But this whole process is revolutionizing genealogical research.

Without volunteers, there would be far fewer free online records available to the genealogical community. In addition, many of these records have not been generally available without the time and expense of actually visiting the archive. This is a win-win situation everyone benefits from our effort.

By the way, the digitization process turns out to fairly complicated and involves a lot of steps. The cameras are mounted on large stands and need to be calibrated and focused before every digitization session. I am familiar with the process since I participated in the original development of the software when I volunteered to assist FamilySearch in digitizing the Mesa City Cemetery Records that are now on

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