Category Archives: FHC

Why you should visit your local FHC

I saw this blog posting about “why you should visit your local Family History Center” on Dick Eastman’s Blog today (21 Oct 2016) and thought it was important enough to share here. Remember, MOCOGENSO is associated with the Monterey Family History Center!

Are You Missing Most of the Available Genealogy Information?

I received a message a while ago from a newsletter reader that disturbed me a bit. He wrote, “I have been doing genealogy research for 10-15 years but only through the Internet.” He then went on to describe some of the frustrations he has encountered trying to find information. In short, he was disappointed at how little information he has found online.

I read the entire message, but my eyes kept jumping back to the words in his first sentence: “… but only through the Internet.

Doesn’t he realize that perhaps 90% of the information of interest to genealogists is not yet available on the Internet?

To be sure, many of the biggest and most valuable resources are now available online, including national census records, the Social Security Death Index, military pension applications, draft cards, many passenger lists, land patent databases, and more.

The national databases were the “low hanging fruit” a few years ago as the providers of online information rushed to place large genealogy databases online. These huge collections benefited a lot of genealogists; these databases were the first to become indexed, digitized, and placed online. We all should be thankful that these databases are available today and are in common use.

As the national databases became available to all, the online providers moved on to digitize regional and statewide information. State censuses, birth records, marriage records, death records, naturalization records (which originally were recorded in many local and state courts), county histories, and much, much more are still being placed online.

Of course, this is great news for genealogists who cannot easily travel to the locations where the original records are kept. For many of us, this is even better than having information on microfilm. Most of us don’t have microfilm readers at home, but we do have computers.

Yet, I am guessing that perhaps 90% of the information of interest to genealogists has not yet been digitized. Why would anyone want to look for genealogy information “… only through the Internet?”

State censuses, birth records, marriage records, death records, naturalization records, county histories, and more are all “work in progress” projects. That is, they are not yet complete. In fact, I doubt if all of them will be available online for at least another decade or two! If you only look online, you are missing a lot.

In many cases, church parish records, local tax lists, school records, land records (other than Federal land grants), state census records, and many more records are not yet available online and probably won’t be available for years. If you are limiting yourself to “… only through the Internet,” you are missing 90% of the available information.

If you have the luxury of living near the places where your ancestors lived, I’d suggest you jump in an automobile and drive to the repositories where those records are kept. There is nothing that matches the feeling of holding original records in your hand. Scan them or make photocopies or take pictures of them or do whatever is possible to collect images of the original records.

If you do not enjoy the luxury of short distances, use microfilm. Luckily, that is easy to do although you will have to leave your home. Many (but not all) of these records have been microfilmed, and those films may be viewed at various libraries, archives, or at a local Family History Center near you. There are more than 4,600 of those local centers, so you probably can find one within a short distance of your home. The Family History Centers are free to use although you do have to pay a modest fee for postage when you rent a microfilm by mail. See for details. You can also find your nearest Family History Center by starting at:

If you do not know where to start, I would suggest reading “Begin your genealogy quest” at for some great “getting started” information.

Which option would you prefer: accessing 10% of the available records or 100% of the available records?

The above article is from and is copyrighted by the Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter at Many thanks go to Dick Eastman for his continued support of the genealogy world.

Saturday April 9 at the FHC

Reminder, the FHC is open this Saturday April 9 for normal business.  Volunteers will be available until 3:00PM.

Also, the MoCoGenSo DNA SIG will meet at 10 am at the Family History Center.

This meeting will feature a computer workshop so if you have a laptop please bring it with you to leave the computers free for those who do not have a laptop.

In preparation for the workshop, please upload your personal family tree (gedcom) if you have one to your account and also upload trees from your FamilyTreeDNA matches or your AncestryDNA matches to your account.

If you need help with doing the tree uploads, please let me know by email before Saturday and I will meet you at the FHC at 9 am.

Schedule for DNA SIG Meeting:

10:00 to 11:00  Workshop by Barbara Rae-Venter on using the tools on, including the tree comparison utility GWorks.  Please be sure you are registered on (free) and that you have your user name and password with you.

11:00 to 11:15  Questions/Discussion

11:15 to 11:30   Discussion of future topics of interest/volunteers for future presentations

Next meeting:  Saturday May 14 at 10 am

“What does DNA stand for?” – National Dyslexics Association

FHC to open some Saturdays

In the past, the Monterey Family History Center has been open on Saturdays by appointment only. They have decided to open one Saturday a month, on a trial basis, to see if there is any interest. For the next three months, the Center will be open on the second Saturday of the month, February 13, March 12 and April 9th, from 11:00 am – 3:00 pm. (Note the unusual hours.)

For those of you who are busy working during the week, this is a great chance to use the services of our local Family History center on Saturday. But it is a case of “use it or lose it”!

There will be volunteers on site to help with your genealogical hunts.

For directions and phone number to the Center, click here.

August 6, 2015 – Monthly Meeting: “Basics on Genealogy Research”, by Tom & Valerie Hillesheim

Join Tom and Valerie Hillesheim, Directors of the Family History Center in Monterey, as they introduce you to the Family History Center and the basics of genealogy. The Family History Center is here to help everyone get started in doing their family genealogy. Learn the fundamentals of genealogy, and what is needed to assist you while researching. Find out what resources are available to assist while doing your research either with the computers at the FHC, or at home.

Doors open at 6:15 pm, the meeting starts at 7:00 pm. We’ll see you at the Family History Center, 1024 Noche Buena, Seaside, CA., left rear of building.

“A problem well put is half solved.” – John Dewey

Bring Your Flash Drive

If you are coming in to the Family History Center ( FHC) for help with your genetic genealogy research, Fridays or anytime, you should  bring a laptop or bring a flash drive that can be used on a volunteer’s lap top to save your data.  The Monterey FHC does not have Chrome installed.

On a more general note, whenever you come to any FHC you should always carry along a flash drive so you can save data you might find.  Remember, the FHC has subscriptions that you might not have, and discoveries are always being made.  Sure, you can print a page, but that costs money.  Besides, if you don’t have a scanner at home, then how are you going to save the discovery?!

Flash drives are always going on sale at Staples or Office Depot or Best Buy. Look for those store specials.  They are cheap backup and easy to carry.

An FHC Series: Navigating Genetic Genealogy Websites

For the next few Friday mornings at 11 :00 am, Barbara Rae-Venter (our resident DNA expert) will be teaching the FHC volunteers about each of the main DNA/genealogy websites, with a different topic each week. Included in each session will be an exploration of the features available on each site as well as useful tips on available tools to help with match analysis so that you don‘t waste precious time doing manually what someone has created a tool to do.

These sessions are specifically designed for making FHC volunteers with an interest in genetic genealogy familiar with the basic tools made available by each company so they can field questions, but anyone with an interest in genetic genealogy is welcome to attend.

Schedule -> Fridays 11:00 am

  • June 12                     AncestryDNA
  • June 19                     FamiIyTreeDNA
  • June 26                     23AndMe
  • July 10            
  • July 17            

The FHC Needs Volunteers

There are now openings at the Monterey Family History Center!  Are you recently retired and looking for something to keep you busy?  Do you have a altruistic itch that needs scratching? Has the FHC helped you find your family and now you want to “pay it forward”?  These openings come around cyclically, now is the time to become a volunteer at the Monterey FHC in Seaside, California.

Benefits:  Access to the finest genealogy center on the Central California Coast!  Work on your own family tree during idle hours!  Meet folks with similar interests to your own.  Work only 4 hours per week.  Five weeks vacation every year!

Requirements: Can spend 4 hours at the FHC per week (see schedule). Willing to help strangers with their family research. Must have understanding of basic genealogical principles (training on FHC applications will be provided).

Tuesday: 3 shifts: 9:00am-1:00pm, 1:00pm-5:00pm, 5:00pm-9:00pm
Wednesday: 3 shifts: 9:00am-1:00pm, 1:00pm-5:00pm, 5:00pm-9:00pm
Friday: 1 shift: 9:00am-1:00pm

Contact: Call or email the Assistant Director of the FHC, Valerie Hillesheim, for more information at 333-1285 or