Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

A Quick Response About Microfilm Availability and Digital Records

I received the following comment:
While I appreciate the issues with microfilm, I wish that the decision to stop distribution would have been put off a little longer. The records from Eastern Europe will likely be among the last to be digitized, if at all. Without the ability to travel to SLC, my research will be severely hampered.
I guess I am puzzled as to why this person believes that Eastern European records are being targeted for the last to be digitized. I thought I would take a look at the Catalog and see what was available from Eastern Europe. Before I discuss what I found, I do have a question as to what the commentator felt the term "Eastern Europe" included? The New World Encyclopedia online gives the following definition:
Eastern Europe, as defined by the United Nations Statistics Division, includes the countries of Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation, and Slovakia, as well as the republics of Belarus, Moldova, and Ukraine
In some sources, Eastern Europe is defined as the nations bordered by the Baltic and Barents seas on the north; the Adriatic, Black, and Caspian seas and the Caucasus Mountains on the south; and the Ural Mountains. Using this definition, the nations of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro (formerly Yugoslavia), which the UNSD categorizes as Southern Europe, would be included. This definition also includes the Baltic republics of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, considered by the UN as Northern Europe. The Transcaucasian countries of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia are included in this definition, though they are defined by the UN as western Asia. 
The term "Eastern Europe" is often used to refer to all European countries that were previously ruled by communist regimes (the Eastern Bloc), due to the concept of the “Iron Curtain” separating Western Europe and Soviet-controlled Eastern Europe throughout the period of the Cold War. Prior to German reunification, East Germany was often described as an Eastern European country.
Which of these countries does the commentator think are going to be the last digitized? I guess I should give at least one example. Take the Czech Republic. Here is a screenshot of the web page for the Czech Republic showing the collections available and whether or not they have been digitized. I had to do several screenshots to get the entire page:

Here is the next part of the page:

The camera icons indicate records that have been digitized and are freely available online. Perhaps the commentator did not know about the records in the Catalog that have been digitized and not yet added to the Historical Record Collections?

It looks to me from the dates above, that FamilySearch is adding a lot of digital records from the Czech Republic. I think my commentator will find that the records are being digitized. However, I am certain that we do not yet have access to many of the records in Eastern Europe simply because they have yet to be even microfilmed. They are still on paper (or whatever) in the libraries and archives in Eastern Europe.

1 comment:

  1. Perhaps the images this person is concerned about are digitized and available but not indexed and this person does not know how to access those. The Czech records in your example are indexed.