Arizona couple volunteers for historical society An Arizona couple is in the middle of a year-long volunteer service project for the South Dakota State Historical Society at the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre.
Through an agreement with the Genealogical Society of Utah, Bill and Annie Jordan of Willcox, AZ, are preserving on microfilm census cards housed in the State Archives. The Jordans came to South Dakota last February as a service mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
"We came here because of our desire to serve," Annie said. "It's a lot better to get out and do something than to just sit at home."
"In retirement it can become too easy to just sit in your rocking chair," Bill added. "We decided the best thing to do is to get out and serve someone else."
Bill, 72 and a retired manufacturing plant manager, is a heart attack survivor. Annie, 67, recently had a children's book published; Bogwaddle Pond is dedicated to a grandson but mentions all 14 of her grandchildren and is about a frog who thinks he once was a prince.
Annie calls herself a "miracle cancer survivor." The Jordans said their health recoveries are another reason they want to serve others.
The Jordans are completing a project started in August 2002 by another volunteer Latter Day Saint couple, Tom and Judy Haymore of St. David, AZ, which is about 30 miles from Willcox.
The couples were acquainted with each other, and the Jordans said the Haymores were very helpful to them in their project, doing everything from advising them what the project involved to loaning them furniture to telling them the correct pronunciation of Pierre.
The Haymores began filming nearly 3 million state census cards, starting with the 1905 census and running every 10 years through 1945. After 18 months, they got into the 1935 cards.
The Jordans began where the Haymores left off in 1935 and hope to finish the 1945 census cards in early October. They then may start also filming naturalization records, they said.
The Jordans have been married 47 years, but they said the census-filming project has been good for them because it's made them work together more. After a slow start, the couple now produces about 27,000 exposures a week on their 16-mm camera setup, they said.
That much usage is hard on their old equipment, and their camera breaks down about every six weeks, they said. Fortunately, they have a backup camera to use while the other one is being repaired in Utah.
"It's new and it's very interesting to us," Bill said. "Each card we do is its own story," Annie added.
The Jordans said they have enjoyed their stay in Pierre.
"The town of Pierre is one of the prettiest, nicest, cleanest towns we've seen in a long, long time," Bill said. "The people seem like they're proud of their yards and they keep them pretty. And we work with beautiful people here in the State Archives; they've been so helpful."
"It's been a very rewarding experience," Annie said. "We're enjoying it very much."
And the State Historical Society is enjoying the work of the Jordans, too. The Utah Genealogical Society films genealogical records throughout the world and makes them available to researchers at the Family History Center in Salt Lake City and 3,700 Family History centers around the world.
The society filmed cemetery records for South Dakota several years ago. Once the Jordans send their film back to Utah, the society puts it on microfilm and sends it back to the South Dakota State Historical Society.
"It's really a good deal for us," said Marvene Riis, acting South Dakota state archivist. "The State Historical Society and public can have access to census records they otherwise wouldn't have unless they came here in person. And with the information on microfilm, there will be much less need to touch the original census cards."