Thursday, June 16, 2011
Do You Prefer Books or Microfilm?
You see, I had a choice. I could drive all the way to Salem and look at the books or I could hop on a train and visit the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) in Boston which has all the early deeds and indexes on microfilm.
The advantage of going to NEHGS is that all the microfilm is available in one room with knowledgeable staff ready to help me. Another big advantage is that I can save the images to my thumb drive and bring them home to store on my own computer. In addition, I can get other research done because NEHGS has so much more than just deeds.
The disadvantage is that I don't really like using microfilm. It's time consuming pulling the rolls one by one, reeling through them, moving to another station to save the images. And I'm always so worried that if I'm not extra gentle that I might tear one of the films. It's just slow. And not to mention that sometimes the microfilm images just aren't as clear as what is available from the books. And the advantage of being able to research so many other things at NEHGS can be a real disadvantage if you need to focus on one thing. The temptation is too strong!
I opted for a two tier plan of action. I decided to go to the Registry building and do my deed research. It is so much faster pulling books off shelves, flipping through them and then re-shelving. Because of the way the Essex Registry is set up I can rest my books for viewing in the same row where I am searching which makes wheeling around and pulling multiple books very easy.
For the second part of my plan I decided to save NEHGS for later in the week. That way if I didn't finish my deed research I could always do it there. At the same time, I could move on to probate research.
It's not really about deed books. I have been using microfilm for many things lately, pulling obituaries from newspapers and checking town records. But somehow I still prefer the option of using books whenever I can.
What about you? Are you a book or microfilm person and why?
Photo Credit: Photo by Plutor used under the creative commons license.