Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Researching in Jackson

I spent the last couple of days researching at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History in Jackson, Mississippi. I had a list of items that I wanted to find, and I made it through that list. My biggest disappointment is that the Mississippi History bookstore in the building was closed this week for inventory. They lost sales, but I saved money because I am sure I would have found some items that I would have purchased. My second greatest disappointment had to do with their microfilm reader/printers. They had none that would scan to a computer so a digital image of the file could be saved in spite of the fact that the archives are in a brand new state of the art building. It makes no sense to me why they are using reader/printers that are about 10-15 years old in a new facility. I enjoyed talking with the volunteer who was staffing the media reading room on Monday. You could tell that she was very enthusiastic about researching her own genealogy. She also told me of the plight of her own genealogical society. Membership is in decline, and it is very difficult to get people to stand for office. I wish that I could count on my fingers the number of times I've heard that same story, but I don't have that many fingers. Societies need to adapt to the twenty-first century. What worked in the 1960s and 1970s doesn't work today to attract new members. I shared with her about the FGS conference in Little Rock in the fall. She said that her society used to be a member of FGS but no longer was. I assured her that one's society didn't have to be an FGS member to attend the conference. I think that society and many others just like it could benefit from some of the workshops aimed at society management. I did have a successful trip. I've been trying to figure out why my mom's great grandmother said that she was married in 1835 on her confederate widow's pension application when the marriage certificate says 1844 and neither she nor her husband were residents of Mississippi in 1835. I found out that Mom's grandfather's brother died a year earlier than his tombstone states. The tombstone says 1941, but the death certificate says 1940. I just happened to run across his death certificate as I was looking for another person. Those were the major discrepancies that were found but easily resolved because one record was created at the time of the event and the other later. There were many other records that I would have liked to browse, but I knew that I had only a limited amount of time. Next time I will be able to tackle a few more things. I'm really surprised that I made it all the way through my list of things I wanted to accomplish on that trip. I usually end up with at least one or two things that have to be saved for the next trip! I ran into a nasty storm on the way back to my parents' house in Amory. It was extremely windy. The severe thunderstorm warning that was issued right after I got through the worst of it indicated that the winds were up to 60 m.p.h. I certainly think some of the gusts could have been in that neighborhood.

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