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

Saturday, June 9, 2018

A Family History Mission: Random Impressions

No. 65

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 or click back through all the posts.

The image above is so far the oldest record that I have digitized. Since Charles County, Maryland was founded in 1658, there probably aren't a lot of older records from this county. The first English settlers arrived in what is now Maryland in 1634, although, from the looks of some of the books we just received, there might be older documents. 

As we work through digitizing thousands of records every week, we are becoming acutely aware of the details such as the handwriting. The handwriting above is extremely easy to read. But in any year, the individual writing the document could have had terrible handwriting. Also, bad handwriting seems to become more prevalent during the latter half of the 19th Century. 

When we started working over six months ago, we spent a lot of time trying to get the book situated for scanning. 

After setting up hundreds of books, the whole process is streamlined and we can do many books in one day depending on the number of pages in the books. The days pass quickly and it seems we are always starting or finishing another week. 

We have figured out the Annapolis, Maryland only has four main streets. We have been hearing emergency vehicle sirens all day and night and could not figure out why. But with only four major streets, almost all the traffic in the town has to go by our apartment at some time or another. 

We have had several of our children and their families visit since we have been here. Some of our children and their families live near the East Coast and so they have come to Washington, D.C. for their Spring Break or Summer Vacations. We have enjoyed our short times with our family. Last week, one of our daughters and her family from Utah came to visit our Branch meeting. Our daughter played the organ and the members were really happy to have someone who could play the organ, Even it was for only one Sunday. 

We have learned that the forests around our apartment are full of ticks. They are extremely active this year because it has been so wet. May 2018 was the wettest May on record for Maryland since 1989 and the third wettest May on record. It was also the warmest May on record for the rest of the United States. The ticks are very dangerous because of Lyme Disease and so we have kept out of walking into the dense forest areas. We are glad we have good raincoats. The raincoats are easier to use than umbrellas. 

The missionaries who work with us are showing their age. We have some days with doctor visits and time off because of illness. Despite these obstacles, we all seem to keep digitizing records and working as much as possible. 

We enjoy working in the Spanish speaking Spa Creek Branch. The members are really friendly and kind to us. We have seen several new members join the Branch through the efforts of our wonderful Sister Missionaries. We have been helping the members with their genealogy and since the Washington, D.C. Temple is closed, we have had one Branch Temple excursion and have two more planned. They are so excited to take their own family names to the Temple. 

If it sounds like what I am writing is a little bit repetitious, it probably is. We do about the same thing almost every day that we work at the Archives and we have a fixed routine for getting up in the morning. We fix our lunches the night before to save time in the morning. We do our cleaning and clothes washing during the week or on Saturdays. We have a lot of things to keep us busy just trying to survive. 

We have been getting our car washed regularly. We feel better when we can see out of the windows and have a clean car. 

We have made quite a few trips to downtown Washington, D. C. and have about exhausted ourselves and our list of museums we want to visit. It was nice earlier in the year when there weren't so many people. This last week when our children and grandchildren were visiting, the museums were so full of people you could hardly hear anything for the noise and looking at some of the exhibits was impossible. We have found some places that are not so popular and so maybe we will concentrate on the less popular attractions and leave the other museums until all the children go back to school. The day I wrote this post, we spent a day shopping for food, washing clothes, and generally catching up on sleep. 

We are happy we came on a mission and are glad to see all the documents that are being digitized. We look forward to the next few months of work. 


  1. I am amazed by the clarity of the writing. If you haven't visited Philadelphia or Richmond it is a relatively short drive or train ride. Lots of things to see and do in both cities.

    1. As missionaries, we are somewhat limited in the areas we can visit. Our Mission includes almost all of the Washington, D.C. area so that is where we are able to travel.