FAMILY TIES

LDS Family History Center in Bangor offers books, microfilm, websites

Posted Aug. 18, 2012, at 1:29 p.m.

The Penobscot County Genealogical Society had an informative field trip on Aug. 15 to the Family History Center at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Bangor.

Just the book section is worth a visit. I found “New Hampshire Families in 1790;” two volumes of “Vermont Families in 1791;” birth records from Washington County, R.I.; and “Rhode Island Genealogical Register.”

A real plus for the library, staffed by volunteers, is a room with computers where patrons may use websites for free that would require paid subscriptions on your home computer. These include:

• 19th Century British Library Newspaper Digital Archives.

• Access Newspaper Archives.

• Alexander Street Press, The American Civil War.

• Ancestry (Library edition, also available for use free at public libraries around Maine.)

• FindMyPast, United Kingdom records.

• Fold3.com, formerly Footnote.com.

• The Genealogist, records from England.

• Genline.com, Swedish records.

• Godfrey Memorial Library.

• Heritage Quest, includes Revolutionary War Pension files.

• Historic Map Works Library Edition.

• Paper Trail, 19th Century westward American migration documents.

• World Vital Records.

I am not naturally talented when it comes to using computers, but these were ready to go. I sat down, clicked the mouse, clicked on the list of special websites and away I went, picking sites and plugging in names.

You might wonder if, in the day of the Web as the focal point of civilization (I’m being sarcastic), do the Family HIstory Centers still have microfilm? Yes, indeed.

The Family History Center can help you identify microfilm rolls you might want to borrow for a small fee from the central FHC in Salt Lake City, then use at the local center. If you borrow it for a long enough period, the center gets to keep the film roll indefinitely — which means each Family History Center has lots of microfilm on site.

Millions and millions of records held by the LDS are available to view free online at familysearch.org. They range from births and marriages extracted from town records to information from ancestral files of data submitted by church members. Keep in mind that information from actual records — or better yet, an actual image — is more reliable than info submitted by an individual that doesn’t cite the original source.

Familysearch offers learning opportunities online, page-by-page copies of books it owns and many other wonderful resources.

I have to say I am disappointed in the “new” system for searching ancestors that was implemented some months ago, with all of the “filters” you have to plod through to find what you want. The main problem is how time consuming it is.

I am 61, and I see the time I have left to pursue genealogy as finite. Now I find that familysearch.org, a website I have enjoyed using for years, has instituted a process that seems to be reducing the number of ancestors I can research in an hour, a week or a year. I wish the “old” search system would be an option indefinitely.

However, I consider a visit to a Family History Center a very good use of researching time. The Family History Center in Bangor is open 10 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5:30-7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday; and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, at 639 Grandview Ave., which is on the corner of Grandview and Essex Street.

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The Sherman Sesquicentennial is under way. For one of the activities of the town’s 150th anniversary, I am pleased to offer a program on “Climbing the Family Tree in Your Corner of Maine” at 1 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 26, at the Masonic Hall in Sherman.

Coming up I-95 from the south, take the Sherman-Patten exit and turn right. You will see the Shell station. Go up the hill, then down the hill into the village. The bandstand will be in front of you at the intersection of Route 158 and Golden Ridge Road. Take the road to the left, and the Masonic Hall will be on the right, just beyond the church and across the road from the fire station.

On Labor Day weekend, join Sherman for a special edition of Old Home Days.

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Among the most eager genealogists I’ve met are those who live in Washington County or have roots there. It’s been seven years since a genealogical seminar was held there, so the Washington County Historical and Genealogical Society has announced a genealogical workshop for 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15, in the auditorium at 102 Science Building, University of Maine at Machias.

Working with WCHGS on the workshop are UMM Sunrise Senior College, Washington County Courthouse Archives Committee and Hannah Weston Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution.

Open to the public, the teaching event for those wishing to learn how to research their family roots, both beginners and those more experienced, will start with registration at 9:30 a.m.

Registration is $10 in advance or $15 at the door. The schedule is:

• “Genealogy on the Internet” with Nina Brawn of Dover-Foxcroft at 10 a.m. Brawn writes a wonderful genealogy column biweekly for the Piscataquis Observer and the Houlton Pioneer Times. You may bring your laptop, but have it fully charged, as there are only a couple of electrical outlets available.

• “Basic Genealogy and Keeping Your Records” with John F. Battick and Nancy C. Battick of Dover-Foxcroft at 11 a.m. Jack Battick is a retired history professor and president of the Maine Genealogical Society. Nancy Battick is a past president of MGS and active with Tisbury Manor Chapter, DAR, and the Daughters of Union Veterans. The couple also compiled and edited the wonderful three-volume “Vital Records of Dover-Foxcroft.”

• Lunch on your own at noon. Bring a bag lunch or purchase lunch for $7 at Kilburn Commons Cafeteria. Let the group know you will be purchasing a lunch when you pre-register..

• “Maine Libraries: Bangor Public Library, University of Maine’s Fogler Library and Maine State Library” at 1 p.m., with Roxanne Moore Saucier, Family Ties columnist for Bangor Daily News, 1984-1987 and 1999-present; member of Maine Genealogical Society, Maine Old Cemetery Association, Abbot Historical Society and Frances Dighton Williams Chapter, DAR.

• “Research in Maine” at 2 p.m., with Jan Eakins of Portland, an historian and historic preservationist who is doing research for a book that draws on the virtually untapped resources in Maine’s archives and attics to relate the history of nearly 3,000 Mainers who joined the Gold Rush.

• “Research in Washington County” at 3 p.m., with Valdine Atwood of Machias, chairwoman of the Washington County Courthouse Archives Committee, which works to preserve historical documents, newspapers and maps found in the courthouse. She is honorary state regent of the Maine DAR, recipient of the 2009 MGS Award of Excellence in Genealogical Service, and registrar of Hannah Weston Chapter, DAR.

Send pre-registration of $10 to WCHGS, c/o Carole Sprague, 301 Ridge Road, Marshfield, ME 04654. Mention whether you will purchase lunch at the commons.

For information on researching family history in Maine, see Genealogy Resources under Family Ties at bangordailynews.com/browse/family-ties. Send genealogy queries to Family Ties, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor, ME 04402, or email familyti@bangordailynews.com.

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