Today I got up early and headed for the Library -- so did more than a few other people:
When they opened the doors at 8 AM, we all made a beeline for our resources. I skipped the front desk, where I could have gotten a "first-timer" name tag and watched a video introduction to the Library -- I just didn't want to slow down, and I didn't want anyone asking me if I needed help. I found a microfilm reader, got out my notes, and headed for the microfilm storage.
Just one of the loooong rows of microfilm readers on the B1 International Floor
I started with the question about my great-grandmother, Christiane Bellmer Schulze. I'd like to know at what point her mother, Sophie Bellmer, married Christian Schulze, and whether Christian ever acknowledged Christiane as his biological daughter. I looked for Christiane through two years of birth records, knowing her birth date was December 24, 1859, but also knowing that dates are not always reliable. Sadly, I found nothing. I then turned to the marriage records, looking through six years but again, finding nothing. Not knowing when (or if, really) they got married, I can only continue going on through the records, and if I have enough time tomorrow, I'll do that.
After that, I turned to the question of Anton Langer, my great-great grandfather. I have some confusing hints that he emigrated to the United States late in life to be with his son, Johann, in Wisconsin. I haven't found a way to connect "my" Anton to the one in Wisconsin, but I figured that if I could find a death record for him in Oberglogau, Silesia, then that would close the case. I looked through 30 years of death records, and may have found the one:
This may be it but I can't be sure at this moment. I made two rookie mistakes in my excitement of being at the Mother Ship today -- I took some pictures of entries that included the day and date but not the year (the year is at the top of the pages), and many of the pictures I took are pretty much illegible. This entry looks good, but I have to be able to read the occupation that usually comes right before the name, and the age of the Anton Langer is off by a few years, though that is often not an issue. Tomorrow, I have to get better images, and if I give it a high priority, I can keep going and see if there's another entry in the next 10 years or so.
I have three other questions I can spend time on -- I think I'll start with the ones about Joseph Benard Ortmann, because I'd like to be able to continue that story, and I should be able to go through those records pretty quickly. I'll do what I can -- I can order the microfilms from Santa Cruz if I can't finish the questions I have.
Here's the thing about researching, whether at the Library or the Family History Center in Santa Cruz -- it's not fun. Against all advice, today I worked straight through for five hours, at which point I had a headache, was kind of nauseated (from the microfilm screens whirling by and the closeness of the atmosphere), and felt like my eyes were going to fall out of my head. When I got outside, I had to sit on a bench and just breathe for about 10 minutes. And here's a tip, if you've never done microfilm work -- pay attention to your posture! I kept finding myself slumped over the machine, heading for a kink in my back in addition to a sore cranking arm (yes, they're cranking machines, not push-a-button machines).
Oh, I did like the fact that the staff refer to female patrons as "Sister" -- as a senior staff member said to his young assistant, "Clean off that machine there so the Sister can use it." I found it kind of charming.
Heading for my second big day tomorrow.