Revealing the Past

 

Introduction

 

Anyone who has tried to do serious family history research must ultimately get familiar with the dreaded microfilm reader.  This machine has revealed the past in frames-gone-by, to many countless inquisitors.  After my own experiences in the dark recesses of the local Family History Library operated by the Later Day Saints, I knew there had to be a better way...  I could see the early attempts to put indexes and information on CD-ROM by the LDS Church, but there were so many records and each reel of microfilm was another good workout for my hand, arm and bluring eyes.  Turn and focus and read and write and turn and focus…more hours spent winding a research path through history.  Not any more!

Opportunity knocks…

 

In July 2001, when David Dreyer introduced me to an opportunity where I might be able to obtain a copy of the Glogowatz Church Records from 1836-1897, I was hooked!  This was a chance to link the older 1770-1835 records available through the FHL with the present.  My first thoughts were 'where can I buy a microfilm reader and how much do they cost?'  My second thoughts were why couldn't we get the records in digital format on CD-ROM.  It turned out that the attempts to obtain the Glogowatz Church records had been started about 18 months earlier by Erwin Kilzheimer of Sindelfingen, Germany.  What we could do was to offer to share in the cost with those who had already paid out $1,500 to obtain the microfilm from Bucharest, Rumania.  Through Dave and Erwin, we were able to communicate with the President of the Glogowatz HOG, Franz Schlecter, who gave us the okay.  Actually since the film had been already paid for, we were 'buying in' for a copy of the film with our money ($750) going to support the next Glogowatz Family book (Familienbuch Glogowatz) being prepared by Erwin.

Chronology…

 

In late July I put out the word via email and the Researchers of Glogowatz responded.  With pledges and support we soon collected $1,070 and by the end of August 2001 we were ready.  On October 13, 2001, David Dreyer personnally delivered the funds to Erwin while he was attending a meeting of the AkdFF in Germany.  It was a waiting game for the next two months, but finally on December 29, 2001, Erwin related that he had finally received four rolls of microfilm of the Glogowatz Church records from 1836-1897.  It was a great day!  Almost a month later, on January 23, 2002, I received an 'Air Mail' package from Erwin, it was the film--finally I held in my hands the history of so many thousands of people, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and relatives of the Researchers of Glogowatz--it was a moment to savor. 

 

Quality and beyond…

 

Now I had work to do--convert, index, organize and burn CDs to get them into the hands of those who contributed and then later make them available to any and all researchers with an interest in Glogowatz!  I found a local company 'Knoxville Photocopy' who took on the challege of conversion.  They were equipped with a hi-tech Microfilm-Digital Scanner that would be able to do the job, but not without some problems.  Some images are exposed at different light levels, some were difficult to read, and there were many operator adjustments that had to be made to the equipment.  I emphasized that I wanted to capture the best quality image from the microfilm.  I was told that they normally create images at 200 pixels per inch, but I knew they had the ability to get up to 400 pixels per inch and that's what I wanted.  They told me the files sizes would be very large and it would take longer for the equipment to convert the film at 400 DPI, but I told them that’s' what I wanted.  With the extra setup time and many adjustments I began to worry a little about the final cost.  They told me that they would give me a resonable price and if they charged by the hour, I probably would not be able to afford the conversion.  After waiting for about a week it was finished, and the cost was $218, not too bad.  I quickly spent the next 24 hours looking at every image and found reading errors on 42 of the images, I also found a hand full that were not framed properly.  I went back to get those corrected.  They made good by fixing the bad images with no extra charges. 

 

Creating the final product…

 

Next was the task of indexing each of the images.  This took several days, and it was not fun, believe me!  I then had to group all Baptisms, Marriages, and Deaths into their own area so they could be placed together on a single CD.  I felt that putting the all the images or a particular type together in one group would make it easier to use.   I had a small challenge to rename each of the 1,849 images to conform to standard which would allow them to be mixed with the older records from 1770-1835 (the wheels in my mind were already turning to repeat this process and merge both record sets at some point in time).  Then it was on to the creation of the HTML files that would hold the indexes and link to every image on each CD.  I also believed that including the microfilm roll and image numbers in the index would allow researchers to go back to the microfilm if that was desired at some point in the future.  Then it was on to burning CDs, designing and printing labels took a little more time, and thanks to our youngest daughter Donna, each HTML link on the CDs was tested.  With packaging, labeling, and Priority mailing, this first phase is now complete!

More to come…

 

As of today, March 8, 2002 I still await the next CDs, which contain the early years.  I still have hopes that I will have them done my mid March, but it may take until the end of March because of a microfilming problem that some of Glogowatz researchers are probably aware of--many entries of the early years spanned two pages across the church book, but the filming was in odd and even page groups, some images are upside down, and in reverse order.  My challenge is to marry up the two pages to form one image and put them into the proper sequence.   More to come…

 

If you haven't read the 'ReadMe.htm' file on the Marriage CD, you can view it by clicking on the link in the navagation panel to the left.  I have also listed more information on each frame of the microfilm by the roll number.  These roll numbers are referenced in the index of each of the CDs.  More information will be added to the frame index later.

Questions…

 

If you have any questions or would like a copy of the CDs please email me at PeterAlanSchmidt@msn.com

 

My Thanks…

 

Thanks again to all of those who have contributed to this effort and a special thanks to Dave and Erwin whose contributions to our research are priceless, and Jake Dumelle for loaning me his copy of the microfilm covering the years from 1770-1835.

 

 

 

Knoxville, TN, USA