Saturday, November 5, 2016

My visit to the Layton FamilySearch Center

I was excited recently to attend the Open House of the Layton FamilySearch Center. Located on 915 West Gordon Avenue in Layton, Utah, it replaced several smaller centers in the area. I had been watching the building undergo quite a transformation over the past months and was eager to see if the inside was as impressive as the outside.

For you locals, the Layton FamilySearch Center is just a hop skip and a jump from Hobby Lobby and just down the street from Krispie Kreme.  

Over the past few years, there has been a big focus on family photos and it's easy to see why. Photos of our ancestors tug at the heart and help us feel connected in a unique way. For those of us who are not the keeper of the family photos, we cross our fingers that someone will share the photos that they have and we are thrilled when photos of our ancestors pop up on websites such as FamilySearch or Ancestry.

So it's no surprise that the new center has several high-tech photo scanners to help with the preservation and sharing of photos. The scanners have the ability to scan many photos quickly and save them to a flash drive, which they have there for a small purchase price. Do you have photos that are yellowed with age? No problem, their scanners have an autocorrect ability that will take that yellow out!  The scanners make it as easy and painless as possible to copy and share photos.

Next up was their children's area. This is an area for grandparents and parents to take their children for fun family history oriented activities. Note: This is not an area to drop the kids off while you do research or shop, but an area where you can do activities with the kids. There are blocks to build homes with,  family history style coloring pages and fun games to play together. In addition, they will have storytellers come to the center periodically and tell stories to the children. Check the website for the schedule if you would like to make sure you are there for the story time.

There is also a Family Area in a private room that can be scheduled in two-hour blocks. This area includes a machine that converts family VHS movies to DVD, a sofa where family members can sit and view family photos or movies on the large screen and a long table where family can gather and visit about their family history projects.

In another room, which was called "Studio A" (yes there is additional one called Studio B), there are comfy chairs, a camera for recording video and a microphone where people can gather and share family stories, interview family members or even show family photos and record the discussion about the folks in the photos. The recording, either video or audio can then be sent to you. These rooms can be scheduled online for an hour at a time.

Another area features three large screens that are actually touch screen computers. Each has several different apps that allow visitors to explore things such as how family migrated to the US and famous people to whom they are related. This area does not require a reservation.

Fifty-two computers, complete with a variety of family history type databases are available for people to come in and work on their family history.

To make sure we keep our strength up while we are there, there is a lunch and snack area where we can take a break and have a bite to eat.  (You must bring your own snacks as no food is available there for purchase.)  Microwaves are available, but they have a no popcorn rule and anyone who has been in a break room when someone burned the popcorn knows exactly why. They requested that any water brought into the center be in bottles with screw on lids to prevent possible damage to the electronics from spills. 
There are also three classrooms where classes will be taught. Subjects vary, so check the schedule for time and class specifics. In addition, they indicated that if there is a particular subject we would like taught and we have a group interested, we can put in a request. 

With classrooms, a room for viewing and converting family photos, a children's area, photo scanners and more, it clearly will be a great place for individuals and families to gather to share and learn about their family history. The center will open for all services beginning November 8th. I look forward to returning and taking grandchildren there---maybe I will see you! 

To learn more about the center and to book a time for some of the special activities, go to:

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2016, All rights reserved

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Book review: Planning a Future for Your Family's Past

Marian Burk Wood, Planning a Future for Your Family's Past, family history books, organizing, genealogy, ancestryI have the best of intentions, I really do. I have two four--drawer file cabinets brimming full of my files, and shelves full of books and notebooks of notes, but I also have stacks of charts, documents and pedigrees on shelves in my closet. In the beginning, I did better, but almost like an avalanche, things began to quickly accumulate and intent on the case at hand, I set things in the "stack" to be dealt with later. Now the task of organizing the large piles is daunting and I keep postponing it. I know, it's shameful.

I've been looking for a way to tame the beast without cutting too much into my research time, even though I know that by not taking the time to do it now, I am missing important hints and possibly (okay, more than just a little likely) duplicating some of my efforts.  It's been on my mind a lot lately and so the timing could not have been better when Marian Burk Wood  contacted me and offered to send me a copy of her new book Planning a Future for Your Family's Past to read and review. I was excited to to get the book and see what insight she had for organizing and planning for the future of my genealogy materials.

Marian's book is well organized and she literally starts from the very beginning by starting with the stacks so many of us have.  From there, she breaks the project down into bite-sized pieces by dividing tasks in short little assignments that allows us to take it one step at a time. Every chapter ends with bullet point summation that makes it easy to review the steps needed for that portion of our project. I think my tendency is to make the project so enormous, it's hard to even want to begin because who has that amount of time? However, her no stress approach allows for the project to be done in small little increments of time and that appeals to me and left me feeling that I could do this.

Marian mentions products I wasn't aware of, provides links for further reading and tackles some issues I had not really considered. For instance, what about those things you don't really want and yet have held onto because they were passed down? Have you considered they might possibly provide a way to strengthen family ties with distant family? Marian shares some ways to do that.

And what will happen to our years of hard work after we're gone? It's easy to assume family will want our research, but will they really? What is the best way to arrange for the transfer of our research after we are gone? How can we make it easier for others to even want to inherit our priceless years of research? These things and many more were addressed in Marian's book.

For those looking for help organizing their genealogy materials and for direction in planning for the future of their collections, this book is well worth the read.

Disclosure: I was given this book to review but I was not financially compensated in any way. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.  

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2016, All rights reserved

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Bum's Nest

I sat by a window overlooking the city and watched while, many stories below, people scurried about like ants intent on their business. Some were businessmen, others were shoppers and then there were others who didn't seem to fit in either category. My husband had business meetings in San Francisco and so I had gone along for a much-needed break. While my days were filled with shopping and exploring the city, in the evenings Rick and I enjoyed the food and entertainment as well as the other fun things that the city had to offer.

However, our fun trip came to a screaming halt when my husband came down with food poisoning in the middle of the night one night. Meetings and activities were canceled and the focus became getting him well before our flight home. While he slept, I sat by the window and watched with amazement the flutter of activity typical of a large city. We were staying in downtown San Francisco and our room partially faced the street, but through another window I could see a portion of a side alley.

The activities on the street seemed pretty commonplace, but those that took place in the alley nearby revealed a whole different world. Although my view did not allow me to see all that went on, I could see enough. One man spent hours setting up pieces of cardboard and arranging his meager belongings. Soon others approached him and a discussion ensued.What were they talking about? As it grew later and the sun began to set, others began to set up near the original cardboard dwelling and soon there was a handful of homeless all preparing for the oncoming dark of night.

Having lived much of my life in the country or in small towns, I had not seen people living this way before, but many do today and I guess they always have. In her life history, Grandma Hazel Mickelsen Ganus shared some of what she experienced in the hills near Lake Almanor, California where she and my Grandpa Heber Monroe Ganus and their children lived and worked during the depression. (I shared more about my grandparents' experiences during the depression in an earlier post that you can find here.)

Grandma wrote:
"The men on the job were paid every two weeks. If we went to Greenville on a Saturday night for groceries, we would see drunks lying in the alleys, or in the gutter. I was almost afraid to go to town then. 
"A big group of men had what they called, jungled up, in the woods. They had made little huts or lean-tos from scraps of boards, tin, cardboard or limbs from the trees or anything they could find and put together for protection from the cool nights. 
"They would pool what money they had for something to drink, having hit the camps and getting at least one good meal a day. They got so bad with their drinking that the liquor stores were asked by the police to stop selling whiskey to them. they then got to buying bottles of vanilla, then finally to canned heat. This they would melt then drink it. This stuff really got them to raising cane. They even got to fighting so bad that the police were called to settle the matter. 
"This kind of jungle mess was called a bum's nest. There was one woman among these men, and she had a baby one night out there. Some of the people in town got word of it and went there and brought her in to the hospital where she could be taken care of. The police broke up the nest and made them separate and move. There were many such places as this called bum's nest during this depression from 1930 to 1934 that we knew about."
Having grown up in a small rural farming community in Southern Colorado, I am sure much of this was very foreign to my grandparents. My grandmother was always a quiet woman and I can imagine that she felt concern for herself and for the safety of her children during those times, but she also had compassion for those who were without work or a place to live and she indicated that she would often share their food with them.

Our trip to San Francisco quickly came to an end and thankfully my husband recovered just in time to make the flight home As our plane took off, the sun was beginning to set and I was sure the busyness had begun once again in that alley in downtown San Francisco. Although the times have changed, many still live in sad and desperate situations. We may not refer to a "bum's nest" anymore, but those without jobs and a place to lay their head at night still take to the hills or to the inner workings of big cities when the sun begins to set.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2016, All rights reserved