Saturday, October 3, 2015

The British Institute 2015: A Week of Mind-Numbing Genealogical Resources

Don’t get me wrong about this week-long course on England research resources, it was a wonderful experience as well as mind-numbing... in a good way. The International Society of British Genealogy and Family History (ISBGFH) sponsors four classes of various British Isles topics of interest. This year’s classes were England, Ireland, Scotland, and writing family history. The classes were held at the Plaza Hotel next door to the Family History Library (FHL). It is five mornings of lectures followed by an afternoon (into evening for some) of hands-on researching in the FHL. Our instructors were set up in the library to help each “student” during a personalized short consultation.

During the week, I met so many interesting people in the British Institute group of about 100, more if you count the instructors. They come from all over the country and Canada, some are first-timers like me, while others have come to the BI for many years. The England class I was in was a good-sized group of about 30 attendees. Our instructors were well-known professional genealogists, Else Churchill and Alec Tritton who live in England.

The instructors were so knowledgeable it was so intimidating. I am still trying to process all the information given to us over that week. There was so much crammed into each session it was difficult to decide what resource to start with at the FHL after class. So many new resources were explained, some I either never heard of, or I thought they were too far out to concern my research. I said it was mind-numbing…and yes, it was, but it was a good kind of numbness.

Family History Library building. Inside there are five floors of research resources from
books to microfilm to microfiche. I could be found on either floors B2-British Isles or B1-International.
Image found on FamilySearch website.
Once in the FHL, I started out looking at a few microfilms, but nothing seemed to be divulging any new information on my family name — PORTAS. I’m looking for my 5x great grandparents burial and not coming up with anything substantial. I am coming up with more mysteries than I brought.

I was looking in the Poor Law Records/Index; the Petty Sessions; Probates; Settlements and Removals; books, indexes, films, computers, CDs and nothing showed its face but more questions. I found a few PORTASes I didn’t have in my database, but none that would make a difference to my objective to find those burials. Should I spend time trying to figure out who they are? I decided not to even though I’m just not getting anywhere this trip. I’m back home from Salt Lake City now. My English/Lincolnshire research was somewhat of a bust, but the class I took was great and will help a lot in my future research. 

I guess I will have to leave the Portas family alone for a while. I decided to do a little research on my German ancestors. Maybe taking a break from Lincolnshire, England, will open up some answers to me once I come back to my Portas research.

So on Monday, I moved from B2 – the English floor – up one floor to B1– International. I did much better researching my grandmother’s SCHMID family in Germany. One of the surnames associated to hers I’ve traced back to about 1681…in the same town! I just wished I had started earlier on my trip instead of two days before I would fly home! Most of the information I think I can put together at home from and then next year I’ll just go back to the Family History Library to get the images I need off the microfilm.
Seemingly endless drawers of microfilm.
Image found on FamilySearch website.
All-in-all it was fun and worthwhile being out there.

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