Thursday, March 18, 2010

Appreciating where we live

My husband and I just returned from an extended trip to the Arizona desert. We've stayed at this place for varying lengths of time the last three years, but this year I figured I'd take along a genealogy research project or two to work on. I had visions of having at least one project completed and several articles on various ancestors partially completed. None of that occurred, even though we had many wet, cool days that kept us inside.
I guess I'm just spoiled by living in a city with lots of genealogy resources. We have the wonderful library collections at SGS, the Seattle Public Library, and the Fiske Library--all with both books and online genealogy databases available to us, not to mention interlibrary loan services. We have a branch of the National Archives right across the street from our SGS offices. We have numerous Family History Centers. We have high speed internet just about everywhere.
Where we stayed in the Arizona desert was pretty much the opposite in terms of genealogy research capabilities. We stay in a park model trailer in a trailer park near Quartzsite, AZ--in the desert in southwestern Arizona. We were 12 miles from Quartzsite and about 100 miles from any place with a permanent population of 30,000 or more. There is a Family History Center in Quartzsite, but their driveway washed out in a storm the day after we got down there, so the center was closed the entire first week. When I went in to order a couple of films and use their computer in week 2, I learned that (a) the films wouldn't arrive for 3-4 weeks [so don't bother ordering them], (b) their printing microfilm reader was dead and they didn't expect it to be repaired any time soon, and (c) their internet service provider wasn't compatible with the Salt Lake City computers, so there was no access to any of the FHL online databases. The next closest FHC was 65 miles away, definitely too far for running back and forth to use their computers or films.
Yes, there is a library in Quartzsite. Yes, it has some public computers with internet access, but you're limited to 30 minutes on any one day and they have no genealogical databases. They're also only open until 4 pm on weekdays; no weekend hours at all.
Yes, there was wifi service available in the trailer park, and I paid dearly for it. Unfortunately, even though there was a wifi antenna attached to our rental trailer, we couldn't always access it, the speed varied from 24 mbps down to 2 mbps, and the connection mysteriously cut out without notice about every 5 minutes. Not really very compatible with trying to do research!
So...enjoy the genealogical research benefits of living in the Seattle area. Not everyone has easy access to the wealth of resources we do.

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