My “Field Trip” To Our Local Schaumburg Family History Center (FHC); Viewing Digital Films Designated For Viewing “Only” At A Family History Center

Hi Everyone,

With the recent announcement by FamilySearch that the microfilm ordering process will come to a halt on September 1, 2017, I thought it would be wise of me to take a “field trip” to the local Schaumburg Family History Center (FHC) near our library.

I had not been to the facility in quite a number of  years (sorry to admit that!).  However, I thought it was important for me to make a “field trip” there to better gauge what is related to the discontinuance of microfilm orders and to see what it is like to use their system to gain access to viewing digital data that is not viewable at home yet due to contractual obligations that limit such viewing “only” to a Family History Center (FHC).

So I dusted off all of my cobwebs for not having been recently to a local FHC and recently made the trip one evening last week.

Here is some key information about our local Schaumburg, IL FHC for those of you that may never have visited:

  • Address   –  1320 W. Schaumburg Road, IL 60194, part of the Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints building.
  • Phone  –  847-885-4130 (Always call in advance to be sure FHC is “open” with volunteers; don’t make a trip and discover they are closed or the volunteer(s) were unable to make it in.
  • FHC is located in the backside of the church building; entrance located there; push buzzer for someone to let you in.
  • Hours staffed by volunteers are Wednesday, 2pm to 9pm, Thursday, 4pm to 9pm, Saturday, 9am to 1pm.  (These hours appear to be significantly less from what I remember them years ago, especially the morning hours.)
  • Web site is https://familysearch.org/wiki/Schaumburg_Illinois_Family_History_Center
  • Visit the web site above to view a list of the numerous databases the center offers (about 16), most of which are not offered by our library.  They do have Ancestry Library edition (as we do) and also Find My Past, World Vital Records, MyHeritage.  They are more than a microfilm reading room with all of the database access they offer.
  • 4 authorized computers that allow access to the databases above and the digital microfilms available through the FamilySearch website.
  • 6 microfilm readers
  • a microfilm printer (that I was told does not work for making a copy of an actual microfilm image; make sure you bring your smartphone with digital camera to take pictures of records projected on desktop whiteboard from the microfilm you might be using.)
  • Making paper copies of digital images from digital microfilms is FREE.
  • Bring your Flashdrive to download images from the digital microfilms for viewing at home in addition to printing them there.
  • Access to the computers is “first come first serve”; no reservations; call in advance to ask if any computers are open.
  • Don’t forget to sign in on the “Sign-In” sheet.

OK.   So how was my visit??

First things first.  I called in to check they were open.  A volunteer picked up the phone and confirmed they were open.  I went to the facility. Parked in the back. Rang the bell to be buzzed in and nothing happened.  Re-rang over and over. Had to call in to the center again to let them know I was at the back awaiting to be let in.  Finally got in.  Oh well, they were busy helping others inside or they just did not hear the buzzer!  No problem!

Upon entering the FHC room I noticed that much of what I remember there still looked the same except the number of microfilm readers was reduced.  The room looked more open with fewer microfilm readers.

I noticed that two of our genealogy program participants were also busily engaged on the computers.  I guess I had a good influence on them encouraging visits to the FHC, especially now with the availability of the digital microfilms.  However, here is what I see as a developing problem.  The center has 4 computers.  All 4 computers were being used.  If anyone else came in during the time I was there I think they would have been out of luck to use a computer.  More and more access to the digital images is only available in the FHC.  Sounds to me like it is possible the computers will be in very great demand now more than before.  So plan accordingly to use the facility and its resources.

I brought a list with me from the Poznan Marriage Project in Poland that has identified many KIERNA names that have been viewed in the LDS microfilms by Polish volunteers and transcribed into the project.  I calculated what LDS microfilm I needed to view, entered in the town name for the records and saw a list of these films appear.  At home I did receive the message on the screen that viewing the data was only available within the FHC.  I clicked on the film number.  And the data appeared on the screen only in the FHC for me to find a certain marriage record for a certain year based on the Poznan search I did.

My purpose of viewing the image for my great-grandfather and great-grandmother’s marriage record was to see if their parents’ names were mentioned or were they omitted from capturing during transcribing in the Poznan project.  Unfortunately, the Poznan project results were accurate.  There was no name mentioned in the microfilm image of who the parents were for my g-grandparents.  I was disappointed nonetheless.  But at least I knew the data was not there in the original record.

I wound up downloading to my flashdrive at least 5 images of these marriage records that were not available for me to see from home from the digital data where they resided.  I have more clues to analyze but I did not hit a home run or have a “Happy Dance” moment!!

The 2 hours that I was there went by in a flash.  Soon I was out the door with at least some data I previously did not have.

It felt good going to the FHC I had not visited much recently.  I now have a better understanding about the mechanics of how the process works there.

If you have never been to the Schaumburg Family Center, you may want to drop in during the hours I mentioned above to see what they are all about.  Even if you are not using digital microfilm data, check out the databases they have when you visit their web site.  Most of what they have are databases that we do not have at our library.

Happy researching at the Schaumburg FHC!

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

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