Library Diva's Guide to Volunteering…

{December 1, 2009}   The Genealogist Volunteer

Our State History Room has the one of the top Genealogists in the state. She’s awesome and the staff that works there is knowledgable and very helpful. I’m not much into Genealogy, but I know that if I needed to find something, this is the place to go. Every so often, I have the pleasure of meeting some young men from Utah, Idaho or Montana. They are out on their Mission with the Latter Day Saints and want to do service in their community. After talking with them, it’s almost a no brainer that Genealogy is their thing.

As part of disaster planning and also to make research easier, we developed an access data base for obituary, birth, and marriage records. Volunteers would input index card information from newspapers into a data base and it would be searchable by several fields. It is a fun project and a constant project. Cards that don’t hold all the information would be researched by volunteers using the microfilm and the mysteries would be filled in.

A few years ago, I was introducing a volunteer to our staff in the History Room. She had done research before and knew her way around the department. A few days later, I had made her badge and I was standing by to check in with her to make sure she was comfortable and all was good to go. I patiently waited while our staff member helped two ladies who had found each other on the internet. One was from Florida and the other from Ohio. They each held important branches to their family trees and had found themselves at our library to help fill in the gaps. They had drawn a blank on the location of a cemetary. Our volunteer eagerly joined the conversation.

“I know where that cemetary is~” she said confidently, “I have family buried there too.”

The gal from Florida said “We’re looking for the Smyth family burial plot”.

I felt like I was watching a tennis match. Looking at the volunteer for response, her eyes were wide open and mouth agape…

“That’s my family…”

Papers began to fly, heads were bent over tables, fingers traced branches and names…and low and behold…they indeed were all from the same lineage! Our volunteer held yet another branch to their family tree…

Needless to say, she asked for some much-needed volunteer time off. The next day, they were all gathered at tables with ALL their research from three states all about, piled, earmarked, maps ~and there they were talking and laughing as if old friends that had never parted.

The past came together that day and created a great future for friends and family and all because some one had an interest in Genealogy and wanted to volunteer.


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