Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Family History Library Research Retreat, part 1

Last week, I had the fortune of attending the Family History Expos research retreat at the Family History Library.* The event included 5 full days of research at the library, morning / evening classes and access to genealogy professionals. I thought it might be nice to describe my week so you can see what a research retreat entails.

I arrived in Salt Lake City on Monday. That evening, Family History Expos held a pizza/salad dinner for all of the research retreat attendees. We got to meet each other and the professionals that would be helping us with our research.

Tuesday morning came quickly. I woke up to this view after an overnight dusting of snow:

We had a morning class about resources in the Family History Library. For those that had never been to the Family History Library, there was a tour of the floors, their collections and more. Then it was time to leave the nest and start researching!

I came with a plan and a shopping list of things I wanted to research. I started with my great-grandparents' marriage. I only had a date range (1915-1916) and an area (counties surrounding Lehigh, PA). I searched all the available records with lightning speed. Once I was done with one county, I retrieved the film of another. If I had done this from home, I'd be ordering the films one or two at a time. It would have taken months to get this far!

My first day at the Family History Library didn't bring any great discoveries in Pennsylvania, but that's part of the research process. I omitted several counties where the marriage did not take place. It's not an answer, but it's progress.

In the afternoon, I researched my Smith line, including my third great-grandparents with the oh-so-uncommon monikers Joseph and Mary Smith. I figured the FHL was the best place to do it, since I would need quick access to lots of records.

I found several Smith deaths in LeSueur County, Minnesota, including a record for Joseph Smith. He apparently died in 1903 (in his 70's) of an infection incurred from an injury seven days prior. What a way to go. The record also gave me the names of his parents! Wanna know who my fourth great-grandparents are? John and Elizabeth Smith. Why can't I get an Ebeneezer in this line?

See part 2 here.

[*Please see my Disclosures page for information on my connection to Family History Expos. --Amy]


  1. You are much braver than I, I have refused (so far) to research my John Smith line from Virginia. Maybe if I ever get to SL (hopes for spring of 11) I will give it a whirl. Then again - - LOL

  2. Carol, if you get to Salt Lake City, I highly recommend planning to research your Smith line. The records are there, and you can get them instantly. Believe me, I know the frustration of Smith research! It really helps to have access like that. Good luck and I hope you get to make the trip.

  3. Jim's great-great grandparents were John & Elizabeth (Myers) Smith. They were born in Germany and died in Marion Co., Ohio. Luckily I found some probate docs and have them semi-sorted out.


    Salt Lake City in 2012 for me???

  4. Cathy, I hope you get to SLC at some point. Good luck with your Smiths.

  5. As I prepare to leave for RootsTech, your journey was instructive and helpful. Thanks for sharing! I enjoyed reading about each day.