Inmates Assist Family Historians

Inmates Assist Family Historians

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There is a little unknown project going on at Utah State Prison. The medium security facility houses those convicted on drug charges, theft, and so forth.   These inmates with nothing but time on their hands are being introduced to genealogy.  It’s producing some amazing results.

The LDS Church, known for their genealogy practices, have a program going at the Utah State Prison where they hope to turn inmates on to the obsession known as genealogy.  They’ve set up family history centers within the prison confines.  Approximately 600 inmates are being taught how to research their family tree.  They are using the older records available at the family history center and they are allowed to contact facilities by mail to find records not at their disposal.

In addition to this, they are helping on record extraction projects.  This work is valuable to all genealogists.  And, very much appreciated!  Anyone who has strained over a microfilm reading trying to understand handwriting from the 1800s knows how difficult this can be.  I was surprised to see that inmates are extracting 500,000 to a million names a year!  Wow!

Pains are taking to ensure that identify theft is not an issue.  Access to more recent records is prohibited.  Inmates can only view those records from generations past.

It appears they are also learning skills that might help them get jobs once they are released.  The research skills alone will be invaluable.

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