Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thankful Thursday: Volunteers Who Transcribe Original Records

Root Cellar Sacramento Genealogical Society is thankful for its devoted Records Extraction Team lead by past president Marilyn Ulbricht. The term 'extraction' sounds down right painful, but it is far from it.

This group of volunteers would probably describe their transcription work as a way of giving back to the genealogy community, possibly a labor of love and certainly educational.  Reference books are always at hand to clarify a place name or cause of death terminology of a bygone era like dropsy and marasmus.

Every Friday morning the team assembles at the Center for Sacramento History. Each volunteer has a record book from which to extract entries.  The books are fragile and cumbersome to manage, some measuring nearly 18 inches square. Great care is taken to protect crumbling spines and delicate pages.  Pat Johnson, Senior Archivist at the Center, welcomes the volunteers and the extraction project because it will increase public access to the records via published indexes and promote preservation of the actual books by reducing or eliminating handling.

The team's current project is huge:  extracting Sacramento County Coroner's Office records from 1887 - 1969.  These original records are held at the Center for Sacramento History which acquired them through the efforts of the Sacramento Historic City Cemetery Committee.  The work of these dedicated volunteers will culminate in a 20 volume record set.  As of this writing, Book 13, covering the 1930s to 1940s, was just completed and sent to the printer!

According to Marilyn Ulbricht, "Coroner Records are a gold mine of information - they give clues to follow which can really get through some brick walls.  They really tell a story of life!"  Marilyn continues "Not everyone was buried in a potter's grave as there were contracts with various cemeteries in the area to bury decedents whose family was unable to bury them". 

The books contain inquisition certificates, inquests, receipts for property, indigent burial records, disposal of bodies and property, and buried location.  The information to be gleaned from each book includes place, date or cause of death; date and arrangements for burial; and property description and name and relationship of the person receiving such property.  These are valuable clues for the family history researcher.

Thank you again for your tremendous contribution to Root Cellar and the genealogy community!

This publication and others can be read at the Root Cellar Genealogical Library located inside the California State Archives, 1020 "O" Street, 4th floor, Sacramento, California.  You may also contact us about purchase. 
Thankful Thursday is just one of the blog themes suggested on GeneaBloggers.  Get your family research noticed here; send a short story and/or image to
posted by Denise HIbsch Richmond

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