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

Sunday, March 4, 2018

A Family History Mission: Back to Work

No. 42

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

We had a wonderful time helping our son and daughter-in-law with their new baby. Fortunately, despite a rocky beginning, by the end of the week, both the mother and the new baby were doing fine. Now it is back to work.

Everything we do is reviewed by FamilySearch. Every week we fill out a series of reports that go to Salt Lake and to our FamilySearch Supervisor. Because we have six missionary couples at the Maryland State Archives and only four cameras, the other missionaries were able to keep our camera going while we were gone. The idea is to keep the cameras going as much of the time as possible. The limitations are not just physical but also involve the complex process of preparing the records.

The records are stored in the Archives and at other locations around the state of Maryland. While we work, one of us operates the camera while the other helps to keep the document flow going. The books are pulled from storage and provided to us by the Archives staff. But we need to keep track of the books and make sure they are accurately recorded and the right books that have been identified by the Archives and FamilySearch as eligible for digitization. We are just now, after more than two months, learning how all this works.

In addition to maintaining the workflow by keeping documents prepared, we need to be very careful to do the work correctly. As I mentioned, FamilySearch audits our work as it is received in Salt Lake City. If there are any problems, we get an order by email to redo the work or fix the problem. Of course, this disrupts the workflow and we have to solve the problem and then get back on track digitizing new records. There is enough variation and there are enough problems to be solved with every book to make life interesting at the Archives.

One very enjoyable part of the whole process is one that we are fortunate to have. Many Record Preservation missionaries work as a couple with no others to help them do their job. Here we are blessed with other missionaries who are just as or more dedicated than we are. This creates a little unspoken competition. If we leave and someone else is still working away, there is a twinge of the competitive spirit goading us to work harder or longer. But fortunately for all of us, the Archive workers are paid employees and they will finally kick us all out. We do find that we show up when the weather is bad and all the employees have been sent home or given the opportunity to stay home. This probably comes from those of us from the West who are still waiting to see some real weather.

I can say that there were many days when I was working as an attorney that I had to overcome a serious dread of going to work. So far, I am enjoying the work at the Archives even when it becomes physically demanding. I do not dread going to work, if fact, I am trying to figure out how to do more of this work at the end of our one year mission.


  1. Thanks for all the work you and Ann and others are doing. Sounds like you are enjoying it.

    1. We are. It is a lot of work but we enjoy what we are doing.