Back to John Montran

Last month (July 2015), I wrote about finding John F. Montran in an index entry for my grandmother’s birth record and that I was ordering the microfilm from the Family History Library (FHL) for my use at my local Family History Center (FHC). I mentioned before I’d report my results from the film.

The FHL let me know when the film was shipped and let me know when it arrived at my local FHC.  Amazingly, it arrived the day before I was giving a presentation to the GPC-MGS on social networking so I would be there the very next day. Might the film include an actual birth certificate?  Might it include some other really important information?

After my presentation, I went into the FHC, had the librarian volunteer find the film for me, loaded the film into the reader, and began searching.  Brutal.  Yes, it came with an index but it was extremely hard to read.  I tried and tried and finally gave up using the index. I began browsing the records, beginning to end. Nothing.  Didn’t see my desired record after I viewed all the records on the microfilm.   “Come on already, it wouldn’t be in the index if there wasn’t something there,” I said to myself.  I thought about giving up on the search. This film appeared to be contain the same data as I had viewed before in another connection. I decided to continue viewing, this time from back to front.  Having gone through the film completely one way I had gained a fairly good understanding of how the film was organized and could focus on pages that were likely to contain the record I was looking for.  I found it! My grandmother’s birth registration entry.

Family History Library Film 1008278 – Page 290, Entry 435.

It was clearly a typed version of a record I had seen before, in handwritten form. The typist mistyped the surname as “Montrau” – Not surprising, having seen the original handwritten document.  It did mention that Madonna was “Legit”, something that I hadn’t seen in the handwritten version. Then I noticed at the bottom, “Original Records are missing for the following records 427 to 450.” So, Madonna’s record (#435) was known to be missing when this was typed. That explains why the Calhoun County Clerks people couldn’t find it. Now, I have evidence that an original record probably doesn’t and can put aside trying to find it.

This experience reminded me to not give up because you can’t find a record on the first pass of viewing a microfilm. Also, it also reminded me that just because I don’t think a record will yield any new information, I might be surprised by what is in the margins.