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

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

A Family History Mission: Our First Full Day at the Maryland State Archives

No. 19

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.

Following an enjoyable Christmas break spent with one of our daughters who lives near Washington, D.C., we got up very early to be at the Maryland State Archives at 7:00 am. By the way, it is very cold and dark here in Maryland at that hour in the Winter. We started out being trained to digitize large books of court records. Here is a sample of the type of books we are scanning:

The project is scheduled to last for quite a few years and so this is only one small increment of the endless stream of documents and books to digitize. We work about 8 hours a day for four days and about five hours on the fifth day. The goal is to work 40 hours a week.

Above, you can see the camera setup. The large lights are LEDs and are really bright. Ann and I have started wearing ball caps to cut down on the glare from the lights. When I mentioned that we were going to be working at the Maryland State Archives to someone I was talking to, the response was "how boring!" From my perspective no worthwhile work is boring. People determine whether or not they get bored. I do not get bored simply with repetition. In fact, I cannot get bored. If I have nothing to do at all, I usually go to sleep. But otherwise, I become absorbed in any activity, especially ones that have a goal.

These Maryland records are full of names of individuals who possibly can be found no other way than by looking at these records. I am not just digitizing a stack of books, I am assisting genealogists and family historians to find their ancestors. I may get physically tired, but I never get bored with working at genealogy. If you think of me sitting in the Family History Library looking at microfilm day after day, you can get some idea of my level of tolerance for repetitious family history activities.

Now, not all Senior full-time missionary activities involve repetitious activities. I have had friends who worked on Church history sites and spent their missions planting trees and flowers. There are many mission opportunities that involve physical labor outside doing construction, farming or other associated tasks. I happen to enjoy working with records.

Our first day went well and we managed to digitize three of the brown leather bound books which are shown above plus start a fourth. We are on our way to being productive. These books are Orphan Court Proceedings. More about the records later.


  1. My experience is like yours, boring is a choice, not the result of what you are doing. If you are engaged in the activity there is no boredom. As a FS Support missionary and a TFHC-Indexing I thank you for doing this work.

  2. James, I am so jealous. We had local missionaries called locally to digitize nearly two million obituaries from the Ohio Genealogical Society, which is practically down the road from me. I look forward to following you and Ann through your mission.

  3. Delighted to have some details on your mission. Being in Annapolis we assumed you'd be in the Maryland Baltimore Mission but maybe the boundaries have changed or the organization you're in has different boundaries. Regardless, we "rejoice" in your dedicated service and so nice to hear from you. We wish you every success in your mission.

  4. Thank you for doing this. My roots are Catholic and run deep into Maryland's earliest days. Your time is giving me and my children a legacy that will now be preserved and accessible. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!