Monday, January 30, 2012

Teenagers and the Family History Library. Microfilm

15 year old boy is getting caught up on editing all the videos we've been taking with getting my teenagers involved. So I'm ready to start catching you up on how it's been going with my kids. We've found so many great things they've been attracted too. I'm excited to tell you about them. But before I can catch you up on giving the extraction project to my parents over Christmas and then taking them to the library and what's happened since then, I have to tell you about when we took the kids to the library last fall.

Now my kids have been to the library many times. But not since they've been teenagers (read: "yeah right, Mom.") I used to do lots of family history with them until we started Family ChartMasters. So this was a first trip *back* to the library.

In the middle of this extraction project, last fall, we decided to take the kids down to the Salt Lake library and see if we could find the source material for some of the family group sheets we'd been working on. I was all set to have them look up the parish records from the parishes that my grandfather had written to, but when we got there I decided to just let them wander and watch and see what they did. It was most fascinating. Here's what we learned:


Being curious is what gets every genealogist started. I'm so glad I was accidentally smart enough to just let them have fun. I could have come in and said, "this is how you do this, and this is how you do this..." But they had much more fun figuring it out for themselves.

Both boys (13 and 15 years old) went straight to the computers and started clicking away. I watched them both take off on the desktop that the library had set up. 13 year old boy found out he had the same birthday as a famous astronaut. 15 year old boy went to and started working on the youth pages. He was correcting grammar and straightening out formatting for a while, but then started adding content. He was totally at home in that environment, doing things I'd be a little more hesitant about.

13 year old boy started looking through the 1930 census for my maternal grandparents. He clicked, clicked, clicked through everything, researching quickly through several sites I had not taught him to use. He found Grandpa on find a grave, went through, went over to google images and downloaded pictures of my Grandpa, all of which I didn't know were out there. I think it's really interesting that he started with the oldest ancestor that he knew and remembered, even though he has been taught about many others. He knew my Grandpa well, so that was the natural place to start. And I thought I knew everything there was to know about Grandpa, but I didn't know what was out there on the net.

After a few minutes he remembered the focus of our trip, my Paternal Great-Grandfather Joseph Hatten Carpenter. It only took him a few minutes to find him in the census and he got really excited about that. He quickly took a screenshot of the image, dumped it into paint and tweaked it and then sent it off to my mother in an email--all within a couple of minutes. It was a real testament to how youth will take to family history if they are just exposed to it.

After a little while, they followed me to look for some of the British microfilm. The library closed early that day so we didn't get as far as we'd hoped, but it was still fun. They wanted to take a few videos about the library. They are very intrigued with putting everything we're doing up on youtube. It was quite amusing to watch these high-tech boys then go and try to figure out how to run a microfilm reader after watching them breeze through the family history on the internet.

It is fascinating to me that my great-grandfather only wrote to the parish priests. To my knowledge he never actually saw copies of the church records where the original information was recorded. Now we have those records available to us on the internet and in the library. We can see the records he only dreamed of.

I wonder how Joseph Hatten Carpenter felt about microfilm. The entity that eventually became FamilySearch started filming genealogy records in 1938 and the Granite vault was opened in 1963, right before he died on 10 Dec 1964. I'm sure he had heard about them, but I wonder if he ever saw any. I'm sure it was this newfangled way of doing genealogy. I wonder if he felt he'd have to go back and recheck, and source everything against what the parish priests had sent him. Actual prints probably felt like great technology to him. It makes me wonder what my grandchildren will think of the research we do now.

And most awesome of all? When I asked them if they wanted to go again, 13 year old boy said "sure, how about on Monday?" Woot Woot!

1 comment:

Sheri Fenley said...

OMG That is so great. Skeptic that I am about children in general- I would be checking for pods. Just to be 100% certain. Just saying . . .