Sunday, October 31, 2010

52 Weeks To a Better Genealogy #44 Giving Back

Soon after I stared on my genealogy I also started to help others, I liked indexing, and did a lot of indexes, I worked as a gene helper at the library, I did lookups for people years before the Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness started. In 1998 I got the chance to do lookups for people that sent queries to Eastern Washington Genealogical Society, and a few years later our county auditor contacted EWGS looking for a genealogist to help them with genealogical queries, so for the last 5 or 6 years I answered all genealogical queries that came to the county auditor also. The county auditor had all the Spokane county marriages from #1 back in 1880 to the present, but since the 1970s they have done all those records on computers and those were easily checked by the staff so I never did those lookups, but before then all the records were in huge books in the archives. The auditor also had early birth and death records from 1891 till July of 1907 when the state took over recording those records. The auditors archives also had all the land records for Spokane county. Notice I said "had" and they still have copies of all those records on microfilm, but the actual records have been transferred to the Washington State Archives Eastern Region at Cheney, Washington which also houses the worlds first Digital Archives. Today most of those records are online so I have not done any lookups at the auditors archives in quite a while. Before the digital archives opened, they were interested in indexes from any genealogical society in the state, and I had several old DOS indexes I sent them, and those were part of the first indexes that went live when the Washington State Digital Archives opened. The archives has always encouraged volunteers, many from EWGS have went to Cheney to scan and index records, others like me have been indexing at home, at first they sent us about 10 pages of some records we indexed them and sent them back. (That project is still going on.) A little over a year ago they added a split screen indexing you can do online, on the right is the fields to fill in and on the left is the scan of the actual record. I have been digitizing the 1890 Spokane Polk City Directory, and for a change I have been indexing Pierce County Marriage records. Sam Reed the Washington State Secretary of State is the head of the Washington State Library and also all of the Washington State Archives, and he has always appreciated the volunteers that have helped put so many records online, and has given a volunteer recognition dinner almost every year, they missed this year due to budget cuts. I have 6 or 7 of his volunteer award certificates, thanks Sam. To volunteer to help index Washington State records contact Terri Huntley and she will send you all the information necessary to start. When ever I see her name I think of the old NBC news anchors Huntley and Brinkley, guess that dates me a little.
Since I spend so much time at the library, when an opening for a new member of the library board, I applied, and was one of three nominees sent to the mayor, but did not get appointed. I have another chance for next year as there will be another opening then.

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