Week #42 - Biggest Genealogy AccomplishmentWeek 42: Biggest Genealogy Accomplishment. What do you feel is your biggest genealogy accomplishment? What were the steps you took to get there, and what was the end result?
I guess my biggest accomplishment was becoming the genealogy researcher for Eastern Washington Genealogical Society, so how did I get there?
I started doing genealogy in 1991 with a beginners class at our local community college. Soon after that I became a volunteer at the local library a gene helper, helping people that came to the library find their ancestors in the books, or microfilm that EWGS had collected over the years. About the same time I got interested in the genealogy bulletin board on Prodigy, and read everything I could find on the bulletin board, and some of the books in the library. People would occasionally ask for look up help on Prodigy, and so since I was at the library, and most of the time we never had a single person come in for help, I would do some of those look ups. I got pretty good at them, so in 1998 when Ray Fisher the previous researcher for EWGS decided to retire because of his health, I asked if I could replace Ray. I was told no one could ever replace Ray, but I could try the job for a while on probation.
Well Ray showed me the library and I knew it pretty well by then anyway, and then we went to the courthouse to look at the archives there and meet the clerks I would be contacting for records. Soon I was getting queries, and while many were similar to those I had helped on Prodigy, many took this new comer a lot of time to research, and so I was wondering what I had gotten into, was it more than I could handle, but with a few calls to Ray and a lot of time in the library and courthouse I finally got familiar enough with the records so I did not spend so much time anymore. One of the records I used a lot was the 1887 Spokane County Auditors Census, and it had no index, so with a little free time I copied ten pages of this census and indexed them, then ten more, etc till I had indexed all 260 or so pages.
In 2003 the county Auditor sent a query to the library looking for a genealogist to help them with record searches in the auditors records, she had marriage records for Spokane county from 1880 to the present, but from 1970 to then was on computer and they could search those easily, the old records were paper and there was about 135,000 of those and the early ones were in real poor shape. She also had early Spokane county birth and death certificates from 1891 to 1907 when the state took over recording births and deaths. The last major records were the county land records and there were shelf after shelf of land records. So for about five or six years I did all the queries that came into the courthouse for marriage, birth, death and land records and those that came to EWGS also.
In October 2004 the Washington State Digital Archives opened, and the auditor had started to move the records from her archives to the state archives, and so now many were appearing online. At first I was even busier as many people researching their ancestors found out their ancestor had stopped in Spokane for a while and had found them on the digital archives, but slowly it slowed to a trickle and now I have only been to the auditors archives once this year. I still get queries for the library, but fewer and fewer each year, as everyone knows everything is on the internet now. :) I started helping the archives index records before it even opened and so I was a guest at the grand opening and I continue to index records today.