While my friends in the snowy Northeast will not appreciate my first impression of Salt Lake City, here it is: 65 and sunny; no snow, just green grass and clear skies. I hope the good weather is a premonition of the week ahead: Could it be my best research week ever?
To test my theory, I woke up early to stand in line with the briefcase brigade (a tradition I was told I must uphold). I was enthusiastically greeted by the Family History Library staff, and offered the chance to view a 4 ½-minute orientation video. Sporting my “first timer” nametag, I was led into a side room and shown a video that described the LDS mission, as well as the library’s floor plan (Main Level: published genealogies and Canada books; Level Two: U.S./Canada Census and Microfilm; Level Three: U.S. books and Maps; Level B1: International Collection; Level B2: British Collection).
After the video, FHL staff provided additional instructions and assistance:
- Handouts: A map of Temple Square and a floor plan of the library. And, to help those getting started, a four-generation chart and “Research Assessment Sheet” (similar to the suggestions from step 4 of my first blog post).
- Help: FHL employees and missionaries available on every floor. They wear different colored lanyards to indicate what kind of assistance they can give: Red, physical resources (microfilm/ books); blue, basic research suggestions and computer searches. Also, FHL genealogists can be paged if a more complicated genealogical question arises.
- Places to eat: A coupon to use at one of the four restaurants in Temple Square (the Garden Restaurant, Nauvoo, Lion House Pantry, and the Roof Restaurant) and a voucher for the LDS Church Cafeteria. On my first day I redeemed the coupon to the Garden Restaurant, as it boasts, correctly, spectacular views of the Salt Lake City Temple (see photo).
Now, you are probably wondering if I stuck to my own research advice. Well, kinda. Because I planned ahead, I had several films that I wanted to view. And once I located a few of those records, I had follow-up questions. For example, the witnesses on my third great-grandfather’s baptismal record were foreign to my research. I spent a few hours tracking them down, which proved to be very beneficial, as it helped to identify the names of my fifth great- grandparents in Inverness, Scotland. What a great start to a potentially great research week.
So, don’t beat yourself up if you don’t rigidly stick to your research plan. Sometimes going off track or following a gut instinct can help identify unknown ancestors. And thank goodness for sunny days!