THE WORM'S EYE VIEW: GO FOR THE GOLD
by Beth Maltbie Uyehara
When it was announced that the 2002 Winter Olympics had been
awarded to Salt Lake City, I thought, "Aha! At last, genealogy
is being recognized as an Olympic sport." Why else would they
have chosen the home of that world-class sporting venue, the
Family History Library? And what better activity could they find
than genealogy to demonstrate the thrill of victory, the agony
of defeat, the scandal of bad judgment calls, and the pathos of
years spent in dogged pursuit of obscure and unremunerated
It was, therefore, a surprise to lean that Salt Lake City had
been chosen because of its mountains, ski resorts, fine powder
snow, and things of that ilk. Who cares about any of that, when
there's one of the world's great genealogical libraries at hand?
Like many of you, I'm sure, I watched the Olympics on TV in
growing dismay as nary a genealogist hove into view. What a
waste of Salt Lake City's finest resource the 2002 games proved
To rectify that omission, I am awarding my own gold medals for
the Family History Library's outstanding genealogical
performances. Here are my choices for the fastest, longest, and
strongest performances in the field. If you disagree with my
picks, I will only say in my defense that I am 1/32 French, and
this otherwise-proud heritage occasionally causes lapses in
Here are my categories in competitive genealogy.
Longest Research Marathon
Without a Potty Break
The individual world record was established in 1992 by a
woman from Alaska whose iron constitution (not to mention
bladder) allowed her to research for 12 hours continuously,
without once leaving her seat at the microfilm reader.
The Four-Floor Scramble
In 1975, a gentleman from St. Louis established a world
record that still stands: He single-handedly kept seats warm
and/or microfilm readers humming for 10 hours straight on four
separate floors. He accomplished this by combining elevators and
stairs, hurling himself downward from the second floor, banking himself off an angle of the staircase and into a corner pocket
of the book stacks on the first floor, then leaping up minutes
later to careen through the lobby to the elevators to B1 and B2,
where his respective microfilm readers were still smoking from
his last visit.
All hail the victor!
The One-Man Lunge
This was one of the closest contests in competitive
genealogical history. The photo
finish showed that the winner
was a young man from Memphis, who lunged ahead of an elderly
lady from Boston to reach the only unoccupied copier on the
first floor. There was some concern about his tactics the
Canadian judge felt that kicking the lady's cane from her hand
had been unsporting but in the
end, the young man was awarded
Cheers and huzzahs!
The Downhill Fizzle
The world-record deflation of a carefully worked-out
pedigree was accomplished in five seconds flat by a researcher
from Minneapolis, when she suddenly realized that her ancestor
John Smith, born in 1802, could not possibly be the same John
Smith who had fought heroically in the Revolutionary War (1774-
1783) and, alas, she had been researching for 27 years.
but for the grace of God, go we all!
The Fastest Lunch Break
(Ahem) Not to be immodest, but I believe I hold this record,
which I established in 1998 when I hid an open bag of crackers
behind the vending machine in the lunch room, allowing me, a few
hours later, to gallop in, push the more leisurely diners aside,
cram my mouth full of crackers and be back in my seat hard at
work before the last crumb disappeared down my gullet.
hurrah, if I do say so myself!
The Turnstile Hurdle
In her eagerness to get started on her research in the few
days allotted for that
purpose, a genealogist from Australia
leaped and cleared the entry turnstile by a good six inches,
only to be nailed in mid-air by a Mormon missionary's flawlessly
executed triple-axel flying tackle. This was a double gold-
medal-winning performance by both the researcher and the aging
missionary, and has permanently inscribed both their names in
the record book.
Let's hear it for two good sports!
Greatest Leap of Faith / Skating on Thin Ice
Working at her laptop, a researcher from Atlanta found an
Internet home page that mentioned an ancestor with a name
something like the one she was researching. Hesitating only a
moment to glance furtively around, the woman boldly cut-and-pasted the information into her own research notes, and "saved"
the information for a perfect landing.
You go, girl!
Of course, these are only the winter genealogy competitions.
Winners of such summer events as clean-and-jerk weight lifting; Serb, Czech and Pole vaulting; diving off the deep end, etc;
will be covered in a separate account.
And so, as the setting sun casts a golden glow over the
Wasatch Range and the trumpets blare the Olympic theme for the
last time across the deserted ski slopes, we bid a fond farewell
to Salt Lake City city of mountains, powder snow, courage,
inspiration, endurance, faith, hope, and genealogy.
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