Well, first of all, I’ll give myself a little bit of an introduction. My name is Jill Crandell and I am the director of the ‘Center for Family History and Genealogy’ at Brigham Young University in Utah. I have to tell you I have the best job in the world [laughter]. And if you think you do, I’m really sorry because I really do. I have the opportunity to work with a whole team of students who are majoring in Family History and we just have a great time but we also do a lot of work. And so what I’d like to do today is to show you some of the projects that our students are working on that might be helpful to you in your research and to explain to you a little bit about what these projects are and why we’re doing it and how it all works.
First of all, the Immigrant Ancestors Project is sponsored by the Center for Family History and Genealogy. It is an exciting process and it is an academic centre that supports the Family History majors at the University. I’ll show you a little bit about some of our students. This picture was taken last fall and we had about 20 students at the time. I actually have closer to 27 students. We’ve just gone through re-hiring for Fall Semester. These kids are energetic; they’re excited about what they’re doing. They’re interested in learning about records and information and they really appreciate providing resource materials for those of you who are doing research and can use the indexing that they’re doing. So our purpose at the University with these projects is to assist the University in preparing leaders in Family History research. We are training our students with the projects that they are working on and we also want to hasten genealogical efforts through innovation and scholarship. The way we do that is through our projects and the projects meet those goals by providing opportunities for faculty student mentoring and also providing genealogical resources to the public at no cost.
Everybody frequently talks about the fact that, you know, Ancestry charges money and all these new companies are starting up and they charge these subscriptions. They have to do that because it is not free to produce these databases. They have to pay employees; they have to maintain servers etc. So how do we do that for free? What I can tell you is that we receive a very small amount of funding, relatively small amount of University funding and then the remainder of what we do is almost entirely supported by donors to endowment funds and contributions, so the donor contributions pay for the student wages; they pay for internship and academic scholarships and it pays for the cost of creating and maintaining these databases that we make available to the public. And so I mention this so that we can express our appreciation to our donors. We are very grateful for what they do in supporting our students and providing them an opportunity to have employment in their area of study. We have plenty of majors that don’t work at the Center and they are well-trained but those who work at the Center have additional experience and they have additional skills that help them as they move out into the real world to begin working.
All of our projects can be accessed from our website which is familyhistory.byu.edu and from there you can link to all of the projects that I’ll tell you about today. Most of this will focus on the Immigrant Ancestors Project and I’ll explain why I’m focusing on that today. But first I wanted to show you a video. This video will allow you to meet some of our students and some of our graduates and get to know who they are and a little bit about how they feel about what they’re doing. So let me just have you watch this and then we’ll continue.
[Music and female student one talking] I feel that my job is extremely important. I feel that Family History is such a way for people to connect with their family, of course, and to themselves, to realize who they are and it brings them confidence. To be able to help them with that is extremely important and so satisfying. Family History is kind of hard to explain why somebody does that; everybody has a different reason why they get involved in Genealogy.
[Male student two talking] Family History is like families; it’s not just father, son; it’s father, son and siblings and wives and children. And it extends to many more, to the whole human family. There is something inside each one of us, it doesn’t matter what religion we are, that pulls us to our families, the ones that are living but also those that have already passed away. We don’t see that connection but we feel that connection.
[Female student three talking] The history books are full of these people who did great and amazing things or horrible things and they are always written on the pages the elementary school kids read about but there are so many people that lived these really awesome lives and did so many things with their lives that nobody is ever going to hear about and that’s always fascinated me. I’ve always been drawn to the people who aren’t going to end up in the history books but they lived that history and they helped build it.
[Female student one talking] The Center for Family History and Genealogy at Brigham Young University was established to assist students through the Family History program. It is also a place to provide resources for the community.
[Female Student three talking] I am the lead Research Assistant. I work [at] the front desk kind of as a secretary but I also work doing research projects. Right now I am working on the Nauvoo project which is trying to figure out exactly how many people were in Nauvoo at any given point; what happened to them afterwards. But just in a week, just researching this one family alone and reading some of these journals and reading some of these accounts of their lives it’s just so incredibly touching and the people are inspiring. That’s why I love doing this.
[Female Student one talking] The Family History degree at BYU prepares you and gives you a variety of skills to research and find people through a variety of records; how to help other people do their Genealogy, to put speaking skills into practice. It’s through the Center that I was able to already speak at a National Conference before I even graduated and since have spoken at a variety of conferences and really enjoyed that aspect.
[Male Student two talking] I work for the Genealogical Records Division of the Family History Department right now and I must say that I was able to get this job because of the preparation that I had at BYU, especially the opportunities that I was given while working for the Center of Family History and Genealogy.
[Female Student one talking] During my time at BYU, I was able to do a three month internship in London, England at The National Archives so I was sent by the Immigrant Ancestors project to collect digital images of original documents pertaining to people leaving Europe and that was a very unique experience. I learned things there that I would not have learned otherwise, I am positive. Being able to do that kind of research at a national level and to get my hands dirty, literally, with the dust on original documents. It’s through that experience that I gained a very unique skill set.
[Male Student two talking] These opportunities are invaluable. I come from a very humble family and it took me three years to save money to come to BYU. I remember I didn’t have money to pay my second month of rent when I first came and I would have not been able to complete my education without the contribution of donors. I cannot say enough for how much donations are important for students. I think people that have the financial ability to support students at university, especially BYU; their efforts and sacrifices and the decision to support us are greatly appreciated.
[Female student three talking] As a job in general, it’s so nice to be able to see actual results, tangible results of your work and this is a perfect example of that and it’s so nice knowing that not only am I doing something that’s fulfilling to me, it’s also something that helps other people and I feel like it’s one massive service project that I just get to do all the time. And I know that thousands of people are getting to use the work that I put in and maybe help them smash through that roadblock that they’ve had in their family for years and that’s really incredibly fulfilling.
[Male student two talking] I never thought that I would have a job where I can influence all of the Spanish speakers in the world. I couldn’t ask for a better job.
[Female student one talking] One reason why I love doing Genealogy and working here at the Oregon Historical Society is interacting with the people and helping them, of course, find their ancestors, but also find meaning for their lives. So I will get comments back from people who’ve actually called me ‘an angel’ or ‘a genealogy wizard’ because they have been struggling trying to find something and they look at me with so much gratitude for the services that I’m offering and you can tell it’s fulfilling a very, deep part of their lives and so it is such a thrill to be able to help them and I love being a part of that.
[Back to main talk and Jill talking] Okay, gives you a little bit of a feel for our students and what they are like and the things that they’re doing. They really do appreciate this opportunity that they have and they are excited for other people to learn about what we’re doing so that you can benefit from their work and I think the best way for me to tell you about the Immigrant Ancestors Project, to make it more beneficial to you, is to help you understand what we’re doing and if you understand more about what it is, then you’ll be able to use it in a better way, more effectively.
Basically what we do, we look at emigration records of Europe. We all know that immigration records in the country of arrival tend to only indicate the country that people came from and when you want to do European research, you need to know the town that they left rather than just the country because you need to be able to get into the records of the home town. So when you have emigrants leaving Europe, they’re leaving from towns and countries that are not necessarily their own and to try and figure out which port they left from, where the records might be that would indicate those home towns, is actually very complicated when you’re coming from descendancy in the country of arrival. And so we are working with making one large index of records of emigration so that you don’t have to know the port they are leaving from and you can still find your ancestors if they are listed in these records. What we’re trying to do is make it easier for you to learn about these records. Now, one of the first questions I usually get is: ‘Are you duplicating what Family Search is doing? And are you duplicating what Ancestry.com is doing?’ and the answer to that is ‘No, we’re not’.
We are looking at records that are very different from what Family Search and Ancestry are willing to index. They are looking for very large projects; they are generally looking for tabular kinds of material and generally single pages of information because they want their indexers, who are just everyday people off the street volunteering to do this work; they don’t have lot of training in what they’re doing. They learn how to do some basic things and they index which is absolutely fabulous. We are very appreciative of what they’re doing so don’t get me wrong, but what we’re doing is we’re looking for our niche which is a little bit different from what they’re doing. We are training students in things that are much more difficult and they have paleography skills, they’re looking at the reading, and they have foreign language skills. A number of my students are native speakers. As I sit in my office every day, I’m hearing all kinds of languages going on in the Center and I actually enjoy that. I have people speaking German and French and Spanish and we’re adding Italian back in again now. It’s just really fun to hear the students conversing and discussing their projects and they tend to do it in the language that they’re working in. And so that’s kind of fun.
The records that we are looking for is … are records that specifically identify the home town of the individual, usually a birth or age needs to be included. We are acquiring records in England, France, Germany, Netherlands, Spain. As I mentioned a second ago, we’re re-opening Italy; we are hoping to re-open Portugal in January, and I say re-open because we’ve had these countries open in the past and because of budget constraints, we had to close some of them. We’re now re-opening them; we have the budget; we have the students with the language abilities and we’re excited to be able to continue adding records from those areas as well.
So here is a list of the kinds of records that we are acquiring. They can be entire files for each individual; they can be very complicated handwriting; they’re definitely in the language in the country that created the records. So we’re looking at passenger lists, approvals to emigrate before departure, published announcements, after arrival records, consular records, home town censuses and emigrant lists, military service and or failure to report for service lists [laughter] and illegal and extra-legal emigrations as well. So we’re looking at records that indicate that people have left or are leaving a country and we can document home towns of where they’re coming from, approximately how old they are and some relationships for identity. I have an entire team of students who are working but the students are also directing and managing these projects. The number of projects that we have and the number of employees that I have, I can’t do it alone, and so the students are not only learning how to read and how to work through these records, they’re also learning how to manage large projects, how to manage employees and a few of them even sit in on interviews for hiring process and make phone calls to make appointments and to, you know, congratulate those who’ve been hired, things like that. They are trained in everything that is involved in working in these kinds of situations so I have an overall student supervisor. Noelle has just graduated and Scott Jackson is my new IAP director. Tang is in charge of the programming and I have Merran responsible for the British section; I have another student for the German section; another one for Italian and French, another for Spanish.
So we have students who are managing and working with other students and keeping the projects moving forward. So let’s talk a little bit about the process of what happens with these projects. I think it’s very interesting when I first heard about this project; I was fascinated by what these students were able to do. This is not just business people; these are students who are doing this. So the Student Executive Director works with student interns who will be on site in the various repositories in Europe. They usually go during spring or summer terms so that they’re not in their Fall-Winter classes and they spend six weeks in the country where they are looking for records. So they work with the Student Director ahead of time; they are using online catalogues to determine resources that will meet the requirements of the project and they are using keywords and categories and record types and searching for the kinds of records that we are looking for, for the project. I then contact the Archivist at the different repositories and visit with them about the kinds of records that we’re interested in acquiring. We have relationships with a number of Archives across Europe and The National Archives is one of our long running relationships, and so the reason I’m actually giving this presentation today is because so many of our British records have come from The National Archives. Those of you who have access to The National Archives on a regular basis, if you use the Immigrant Ancestors Project to find indexed entries, you can then go to the desk and request the record that you want to see. And even though this project is going on in America, we are indexing records at this repository. You can use it online at any time and then go straight to those records that are available to you here. When I show you the entries from the database, you’ll see where those citations are so that you can request the record and I’ll be sure to mention those.
So the students, after they determine the records we’re interested in, after I contact the Archive and obtain permissions, the students then go onsite and begin digitizing these records and they do receive permission to digitize and part of that permission involves the fact that we do not post the images, ok. We want the Archives to survive, if they need funding from those records, we need them to continue preserving records, so our purpose is to index them to help users and researchers to find the records, to realize they exist and to use those records to find entries about their specific families and then you know to come to the different Archives to obtain a copy of the record and get additional information that is not actually in our index.
So we are providing a service to the researchers. We’re providing learning opportunities for our students; we’re providing a service to the repositories who hold the records and we feel like this is a really good arrangement for all of us to facilitate the use of these older records. So as the students take pictures, each of these students as they are working, at the end of the day, they put all of their images onto the Center’s Dropbox. I assume you’ve all used Dropbox before. The time difference is such that at the end of their day, they load it all into the Dropbox and go to bed. We have students in Utah, just waking up for the day, who come to the Dropbox and they transfer those images to the BYU servers and check for any blurry images that the students couldn’t tell on their camera that it wasn’t a good image and they will send an email back to the students, saying ‘These particular images need retakes’ or ‘Great, keep going’ and then when the students wake up the next morning, they have an email with any retakes and they go back and continue their work, so the offsetting times is actually a little bit convenient for us in the way that works. But they transfer those images and then on campus we transfer them to our servers and they’re backed up and we have no image losses that way.
The feedback that we have gotten from the different repositories is that the staff really enjoy working with our students; they appreciate what they’re doing and we appreciate the opportunity for our students to learn and so we’re excited to have such a good relationship with The National Archives here and to be able to index records here and include it in part of our project.
There’s one other benefit that I haven’t mentioned yet and that is preservation of records. We have actually had a repository in the past contact us; this has happened twice that they have contacted us and said: ‘The original book is missing. We cannot find this particular book, we know that you digitized it, would you be willing to give us images back?’ and it has actually been very rewarding for us to feel like we have something to give back in that way as well and so we have provided images of lost books to repositories to replace those. Now I’m hopeful that those books will be found at some point, but in the meantime, there’s no delay in their patrons to be able to use those records because they can use the images and not, you know, miss out on the opportunity to preserve the information that was in those particular records. So we’ve been excited about that.
One other service that we provided at one point, there was a record group that had six…excuse me…eight very large volumes that we had entirely digitized and indexed and the repository asked if they could have a copy of the index for all eight books in one set, and we were able to provide that back to them so that people on that site could use that index specific to that set of records and be able to access those records directly and that was really nice for us to be able to do that.
So then when the interns return after the end of their internship, after six weeks, they come back and begin processing images and one of the things that they are doing is assigning internal numbers to them which includes the original shelf mark number so that we never lose the specific information from the original repository. The images are then evaluated for editing; they are cropped, colour-corrected, resized, whatever is needed so that those who are reading the records will have the best quality image to work from, and then they’re separated into groups and batched. So from the batching process after that, then the employees in the Center begin their process. We frequently have volunteers who are doing indexing. If any of you would like to index with us, feel free to contact us at the Center and let us know. We’ve had our volunteering actually reduced recently because we had a lot of reprogramming that we were doing. We have now re-started our volunteer program and so we’re looking to increase that again. So if you’re interested in helping with us, we’d love to have you contact us.
The supervisors go through the process of creating a tutorial for each of the collections; they look at the batches, set up the template and get the records ready. They go out to volunteers to be indexed, and then the Center employees, the students do the verification process. If they have any questions whatsoever, they have a faculty mentor that can help answer those questions, help them with the paleography or the place names or anything that they may not know. I know one of the mentors has said to me that every question they have, ‘I can’t even answer the questions because the stuff they are asking is the really tough stuff’ and so they’ve got this down; they’re working hard and they know what they are doing. Sometimes there are things just literally impossible to read and we do the very best we can to get as much of that down as possible.
So after the extraction process is done and the verification has been completed, the students literally push a button and it loads it to the live site. So with all of the students that we have working on these projects literally every day the projects are loading as soon as each collection is finished, it loads immediately; it releases into the index within 24 hours. The indexing occurs overnight. So anything they do one day is available to the public the very next day, and we feel like that’s exciting. Our numbers are constantly changing, constantly going up and there’s always more information available to you and so if you come here and you find out that what you’re looking for is not there, you know, wait a few months and come check again because you just never know what we might put in.
As it’s released into our online database, it is free and searchable. We have a basic and an advanced search tool. What you see in the lower left is our indexing software and you may notice that there are two images there. We have multi image documents and capacity for indexing. There’s nobody else indexing that can have multi page documents yet. That is software unique to the Center and it was created by our student programmers. We program all of the software, all of the websites, the databases, everything that we need; we hire student programmers to create what we need. At this point there are just short of 500, 000 index names online, you’ll see that it’s 487, 000. I edited that number this morning because I wanted it to be really current and we might hit 488, 000 by tomorrow, hard to say. But it was over 487. We are looking forward to our 500, 000 name celebration. We’re hoping that will be this semester. We’re really excited about that. Here are the current numbers of what is in our database and you’ll notice the 483, 000. I generated these numbers before I left and so I edited the 487… the difference of the 4,000 has come from the end process of records that have actually now been loaded, another 4,000. So you’ll see that we have 245, 000 British names in the database right now and then you see what’s in process and what’s ready to start and the total that we have in acquisitions as…from the beginning to the end of the process, we have 1.2 million names somewhere in the process. Many of them are just in images acquired and they’re all starting through that…the system and being worked through.
So here’s another one that you might be interested in. These are collections from The National Archives that we have completed, that we have actually indexed and I have a multi-page document of all of the collections that we have acquired and the ones that are in process somewhere between acquisition and completion but these are the ones that have been completed already and you may notice by those numbers that approximately 42% of our British names have come from collections at The National Archives. So we have a good deal of information from here and we will continue to build and we’re excited that that would be helpful to you.
So let me show you a little bit about how this works. This is our search engine when you conduct a search; these are the results that you would see. This happens to be one of our Spanish results and you’ll notice that what we have is a listing of people that are travelling together and the blue are hyperlinks. So you can move through the different people that are travelling together and see the information about all of the different individuals. You’ll also notice that we have very specific birth information; you’ll notice that with the parish here, you have the very specific name and then you have these in brackets. The information that is in brackets is information that is coming from the collection itself and so the students are inputting that from the collection, it’s not included in the actual record but it’s very clear that that’s where that place is and so we put in those editorial information so that you can see that. As you continue to scroll down and look at this information, you can see the collection name and then notice that you have the file and other information down at the bottom. That is where you would find the shelf-mark information for any collection that you found at The National Archives so that you could then go and request that record and be able to see the original which will obviously have more information than the index itself.
One of the fun things that we are dealing with is the students become familiar with some of the people that they are researching and some of the people that they’re extracting in these records and so I thought it would be kind of fun to show you some of the stories of the individuals that my students have learned about and show you the value of the records that we’re indexing in comparison with the other records that are available for that individual. So this is William Birkenshaw. William Birkenshaw was born in Gainsborough, England, in 1789. Our record states that he was severely pitted with small pox; high cheek bones; long scar left side of the mouth; lost several teeth upper jaw; right arm part of a mermaid and several other marks; left arm, rope and anchor and several other marks; left leg bad; lost the left thumb; marks of punishment on the back and that he was literate. Details such as these are lost in other records concerning his transport. Researchers who are looking for Mr Birkenshaw will not only connect him to his home town but they’ll know exactly what he looked like when he left and so it’s very interesting some of the details and my students clipped the little pieces so that you can see the description and some other new things. These… this information is not included in other records and so if you could not find this emigration record, you would lose that information that you would otherwise have learned about William Birkenshaw.
Okay, so here’s one about James Field and by the way all of the British examples here are coming from records from The National Archives. I wanted to make that very specific to the kinds of things that you folks can find in your research. So this is James Field. James was 32 when he was convicted in 1825 and although our records do not mention his first offence, others record that he had been to Newgate before. The conviction we have record of was seven years of transportation for stealing a washtub. We have two records for him; one gives his birth place, physical description and that he had a wife and three children; the other describes his sentence, health and behaviour. With this rich foundation of details, researchers looking for James Field should have less trouble researching the rest of his life and his family. So again you have this emigration record, information about the individual that is very detailed but maybe something that is difficult to find if you don’t have a large index like this.
Many of our UK records are from convict register collections. Prison hulks were established to take on the problem of overcrowding in the regular jails and most of the hulks eventually suffered from overcrowding themselves and so it’s interesting to learn more about the conditions and the prison hulks and the situation that your ancestors might have been in. Obviously not all of us have convict ancestors but frankly many of us do [laughter] and so, you know, we just need to learn to love our families for who they were and if you find them in these records so be it, interesting lives.
So this is Robert Coward now. Our record of Robert Coward is kind of a special one. After he had been transported to Australia, he applied for his family to receive assistance and to join him. Our records give the very specific area of Blandford that his family lived in, their names, ages, when they sailed and the ship’s name. Although our records do not mention William’s first offence, other records say that he had been convicted before and our record can help researchers track down more information on him with his other offence and his family’s life. With this particular record because he was requesting that his family join him, we got information about wife and children and it’s a very specific identity as to who this Robert Coward was and this is a map of where he was transported in to New South Wales.
We have one more British example; this is Charles Sharpe esquire and he was recorded as leaving Portsmouth for the small island of St Kitts, West Indies, which is located on the edge of the Atlantic and Caribbean Sea. The ship he sailed on was named after him and the record states he was going to St Kitts to manage plantations. As Mr. Sharpe was obviously an important man, published secondary sources may contain information about him and his well-to-do family. But none have been found that mention his time in England which is very interesting because we’ve got these records that take him to different places that if you’re just using records in the place where he is at the time, you miss some of the flavour of his life.
I’ve got a couple more from some different countries just to give you a feel for some of the other countries that we’re working with here. This is a story of Jonathan Pierrepoint. He was born about 1814 in France. Around his twenties, he joined the British Military and served for over 27 years. He served in Portugal, the Mediterranean, the West Indies and in North America. He was finally discharged from the Royal Canadian Rifles when he was 44 for poor health and a report of general wasting of the frame. His residence was in Paris, France but he was residing in Niagara, Canada, when he was examined for discharge. A likely match found for him in the 1851 and the 1861 census shows that Mr. Pierrepoint remained in Niagara, later moved to Toronto and was married to Maria Pierrepoint. These later records state that he was born in France but there is no indication of where nor do they mention his stations in the other foreign countries where he moved around and spent parts of his life.
And we have a story of a German emigrant which our students actually came to have some tender feelings for. Anna Maria Kutz was a little girl born with severe deformities. She was born in Bavaria in March of 1805 and Anna Maria was adopted, we might actually say that she was bought by a Swiss man who took her to France and put her on display as a circus side show. After not hearing from Anna Maria or her adopted father for several years, her biological mother did all that she could to discover her child’s whereabouts. She was eventually successful. Walmering is a very specific section of Deggendorf, Germany so the information that we have is incredibly detailed. I will apologize for my pronunciation of places around the world; if I’m already slaughtering some of them, I apologize. I have not been to all of these little towns and I am sure that what I am saying is very Americanized and for that I apologize, but the idea is that these people are moving all over the world, all kinds of things happening and stories and information that are kind of fun to learn about.
So here is our story of Johann Popp. His family moved from Germany to New York in 1849. In our records his wife and child are listed right next to him and with their ages as well as their previous residence. Our source is also indexed by Ancestry.com but they didn’t include the emigrant’s previous residence which is the key piece of information that we are looking for. So we’re happy to include this in our records as well. Another document relating to this family was the 1850 census of Pennsylvania where the family appeared with an additional child. In the 1850 census, the family’s names were changed to their English spelling. So you can see that Johann Popp became John Pope and you have Suzanne and Margaretta and some of these others and so we get the name change, the relationships, the ages and an additional child because we know about the migration and where they came from and where they were going to.
So here is Franz Reinthalller. He was a travelling apprentice from Austria recorded as a weaver in 1821. His story would be hard to find without these records simply because he moved around so much. He was in Bayern and Seibersdorf is a tiny village near Julbach and for now and I know I’m killing those I’m so sorry, in this 1822 map of Bremen, you can see these small towns and it would be very difficult for a researcher to sort out because of the Julbach in Austria was not mentioned in the way that the other one with the same name was in Seibersdorf. So this particular migration record sorts out those similarities and makes it very distinctive as to which one was which.
Ok, we’ve got a couple of Spanish ones and then we’ll finish up here. Joseph Mendez was born about 1834 in Matamoros, Mexico. Matamoros is located just on the Southern side of the US-Mexican border across from Brownsville, Texas. Many residents of this town immigrated to Texas during the civil unrest in Mexico at that time. So it makes some sense why Joseph’s residence was Texas when he was examined for discharge in 1857. His reasoning for joining the British Army, however, remains to be discovered. Up Park Camp was the headquarters of the British Army in Jamaica from the late 18th century to 1962 and was Joseph’s station during his service. The IAP document reveals much about Mr. Mendez’s residences, foreign service and physical description. These are a few of his residences and what you would find in our record is all the different places that he moved around that none of the other records include.
Ok, so here’s one more with Jose Ramon who was born the 20th December 1875 in Llanes, in Asturias, Spain. All of this information was contained in his passport application. These documents are special because they have these details. They have recommendations from other entities or individuals for the person’s passage. We learn from Jose Ramon’s file who all of his parents and grandparents were; where they were all born and where they were all residing at the time of the application in 1887. Now that’s quite a load of information that would be very helpful to a researcher. This not only connects him to his hometown but to generations of his family which can be a very exciting find.
So I hope that these stories give you a feel for the kinds of details that are available in the records that we’re indexing that would be helpful to you as researchers. So I’m going to very briefly tell you about a couple of our other projects; the Immigrant Ancestors project is our largest and longest running project but we also have several others. I don’t know how many of you are familiar with Bertram Merrill and some of the work that he’s done in Cheshire Diocese but he has been giving us information in some English marriage records. He has extracted parish registers as well as the bonds and allegations and he is matching up the two different documents for the same marriage and we are doing data entry and pulling these together so that what you have is searching for one marriage pulls up two documents and you can see both of them as far as the extracted information; and then you have the citation to be able to go to either one of those documents and see the originals. We have over 40,000 entries online so far and many, many, many more to go. Now I realize these are marriage and so 40, 000 entries is probably close to 80, 000 people if we don’t have too many of the same person marrying multiple times [laugher] which I believe we don’t have too many of those. So close to 80, 000 people are already in our database. This is a map of the area that is covered. We have Lancashire parishes as well as Cheshire and Welsh and Yorkshire and it’s for the time period of 1750 to 1836. And so hopefully some of those things would be helpful to you in your research as well.
Another one of our sites is the Script Tutorials. I don’t know how many of you are familiar with our handwriting helps here. The Script Tutorials are written for all of these different countries. We have English, German, Dutch, Italian, French, Spanish and Portuguese. You might be interested to know that we are currently reworking this entire site, updating it but also adding in more tutorials and more practice documents that you can work with. We’ll be using it for our students with their paleography classes. I also find it interesting, we’ve got all of these handwriting documents and helps on the site. Family Search Indexing recommends our site in their monthly newsletter for their indexers to learn more about the handwriting so that they can become better at reading the documents and so we appreciate their recommendation for that.
We have a Nauvoo community project which is not as applicable here in England. However, if you have ancestry or extended family that suddenly disappears, if there’s any chance that they joined the LDS church and went to Nauvoo, Illinois in the early 1800s, you might want to check out our Nauvoo Community Project. Again all of these sites are accessible from familyhistory.byu.edu. We also have a tutorial on discovering English ancestors. One of our retired British specialist professors is managing this site and giving information for beginners; how to do research in English records and so that might be helpful to some of you who might be beginners. We also have a Welsh Mormon History website. Again this might be beneficial if you have people from Wales who suddenly disappear who might possibly have gone to the Americas as an LDS convert. This information includes details of the immigrants voyage, journal entries, letters, pictures, any records that have come down to the descendants over time in the States that might be of benefit to you who are doing research here on the other side of the ocean.
We have a couple more projects that are beginning and in process. We are working on a Spanish village project that will reconstruct the lives of 18th century women in Spain which is a fascinating project, and then we have a searchable index of emigrants from the Basque country who have come into America and we have…those index we’re getting ready to recreate a site that was begun earlier and bring that into the collection of sites at the Center today. So one of the things I want you to remember about all of our projects here is that it all involves students and that these students are being trained as professionals; they have skills far beyond the population and they do have faculty mentoring and they’re having fabulous experiences with their internships and everything that they’re doing teaches them but it also provides records that are available to you as researchers to benefit from their indexing and help you to find records that will assist you in locating your family and getting into original records that might be a little bit more obscure. In the Immigrant Ancestors project, we have actually indexed letters, one or two letters from a couple of individuals. We find records like that if they prove that they emigrated where they came from, how old they are, where they settled, we index those and so we have got some very small collections that are into this indexing process that hopefully we can help you find records that would be beneficial.
So that is what I have prepared for you today. I hope that you’ve enjoyed learning about the projects that we’re doing with our students and I hope that you’ll spread the word so that other people can benefit from what we’re doing. So thank you very much. [applause]
Transcribed by Joy Omorogbe as part of a volunteer project, February 2015