HBLL offers genealogical research for the public


    By Julie Erdmann

    Books are not the only things that can be found in the Harold B. Lee Library. The on-campus facility is also the home of the Utah Valley Regional Family History Center.

    The Center, located on the second floor of the HBLL, provides access to U.S. Census from 1790 to 1930, the American Genealogical Death Index, military pension and bounty records and civil registration.

    Despite these resources, the Center is rarely full, or even crowded.

    Joaquin Fenollar, an English as a second language major from Gandia, Spain, has been working at the Center since May 2003. Fenollar is working on a project titled Motivational Planning for Genealogical Work.

    “The only thing I want is for people to come here,” Fenollar said.

    One of Fenollar”s biggest disappointments is how few people utilize the Center”s resources.

    “Why not spend two hours with your family,” Fenollar said. “Always there is something you can do, always.”

    For students who do not know where to look for their family, the Center provides a lab with 25 computers that have access to several family history search sites, some of which would normally require a fee to use the information.

    Volunteer consultants are also available in the main portion of the Center, as well as the computer lab to help those who are not sure how to begin or where to look. Daily classes are taught on subjects ranging from getting started to pioneer diaries online.

    Jack Steinagel, a volunteer consultant at the Center, encourages young people to start their family history.

    “Most people think it”s something to do when you”re almost ready to die,” Steinagel said. “But if you wait that long, all of the people that have information have died before you.”

    Some students find the idea of starting their family history a little intimidating. Lauren Everett, a physics teaching student from Jackson, Mo., said she has no idea where to start.

    “It seems very overwhelming,” Everett said.

    Rick Hamilton, an information technology student from Cocoa, Fla., said he had a similar feeling until he began working with extractions, a form of genealogy that involves entering data from death notices into the computer.

    “It”s not like you have to go somewhere and spend two or three hours,” Hamilton said. “But a lot of the time you will because you”ll find some cool things.”

    Information about the Center”s hours and classes can be found at uvrfhc.lib.byu.edu.

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