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A Genealogist In The Archives

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

5 Easy Steps to Preserving the Family Bible

One of the most precious items genealogists have in their records collection is the family Bible. This family heirloom is one that is most cherished and can contain the family history. The one-of-a-kind pages with handwritten names and dates help genealogists with their genealogy research but also reminds us of the ancestors that wrote on those pages. Preserving the family Bible is essential to preserving family history.

Family Bible donated to the Houston County, TN. Archives

Preserving a Family Bible Can Be Done in 5 Easy Steps:  

1. Transcribe the information contained on the pages in the family Bible. This step needs to be done so that once the Bible has been stored away and preserved, it doesn't get handled and risk damage.

2. Digitize all pages that contain any genealogical information.  This can be done by using a flat bed scanner, a hand held scanner or taking digital photographs. If the Bible is fragile, be very careful what technique is used.

Bible Page with Genealogical Information

3. Place archival tissue paper between the pages that have writing on them. This will insure that none of the writing bleeds onto the other pages if the Bible comes in contact with moisture.

4. Put the family Bible in an archival box that is lined with archival tissue paper. Be sure the box is not too small and not too big. To make sure the Bible doesn't move around in the box, crumple up archival tissue paper and place around the Bible. The Bible will fit snuggly and should not move.  

5. Store in a cool, dry and dark place. Handle the Bible as little as possible.

German Bible Donated to the Houston County, TN. Archives

Here is a listing of the archival materials needed to preserve a Family Bible:


Archival Tissue Paper: http://amzn.to/2dqyWbt
Archival Storage Box: http://amzn.to/2duP4Yb

 

REMEMBER: IT'S NOT ALL ONLINE, CONTACT OR VISIT AN ARCHIVE TODAY!


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Scrapbooks! Do You Know How to Archive Them?   

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Thursday, June 14, 2018

Preserving the American Flag

Today, June 14th, is Flag Day in the United States. This day is set aside to commemorate the adoption of the flag of the United States, which happened on June 14, 1777.



Many genealogists, for whatever reason, have in their possession an American flag. Maybe it was handed down from generation to generation and now it belongs to you. Maybe the flag you have was once draped over a casket of a deceased soldier or veteran from your family.

Whatever the reason, if you have an American flag among your genealogical records and artifacts, it is important that you know how to fold it and preserve it so that it will survive for generations to come.

First, the American flag must be folded property. Here is a great website to show you how to fold the flag and it includes visuals: http://www.usflag.org/foldflag.html

Once the American flag has been folded properly, it's time to archive is properly. To do this, you will only need to purchase two items.

You Will Need:

-Archival Tissue Paper to wrap the folded flag in before it is put in an archival box



-A special archival box specifically for folded flags



These items can be purchased at any online archival materials store:

Online Archival Supply Stores:

Gaylord Archival: http://www.gaylord.com/
Hollinger Metal Edge:  http://www.hollingermetaledge.com/
University Products: https://www.universityproducts.com/
Light Impressions: http://www.lightimpressionsdirect.com/


Take the folded flag and wrap it in archival tissue paper. Place the wrapped flag into the archival flag box. It would be a good idea to add a note in the box stating how you obtained the flag, the significance of the flag to your family and who it belonged to.

Store the boxed flag in a cool, dry and dark place. Do not store in an attic, basement on in direct sunlight. If you decide to frame the American flag, that is perfectly fine. I do suggest that you take it to a framing company that is experienced in archival framing with archival matting and UV protective glass. You can frame the flag yourself by purchasing a memorial flag case from an online archival materials store. They have one that you can hang on the wall or set on a table.

Memorial Flag Case for the Table



Memorial Flag Case for the Wall













It is important to preserve and archive our most precious family heirlooms and if we are fortunate enough to have an American flag in our collection, be sure to take care of it in a proper and archival way.



REMEMBER: IT'S NOT ALL ONLINE, CONTACT OR VISIT AN ARCHIVE TODAY!

*******

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Preserving Old Family Letters: Tips from an Archivist

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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Preserving Old Black Paper Photo Albums

Photographs!

I love family photographs!

Looking into the faces of my ancestors in photographs and wandering what they were like, how they lived and what they did on a daily basis is a huge part of my genealogy research journey.

One obstacle that we might face with our photographs are those old black paper photo albums that look like this:

Wiseman Family Photo Album, Houston County, TN. Archives


These were extremely popular back in the late 1800's and throughout the 1900's. The photographs were either pasted onto the pages or they were inserted with photo corners that are pasted into the album.

We have several of these types of black paper photo albums in the Houston County, TN. Archives. It is very important that these types of photo albums be handled with care and preserved properly. Any home archivist can preserve their own black paper photo albums. But I always like to say that if you don't feel comfortable doing this preservation project yourself, then I highly recommend you consult with an archivist or conservator in your area to help you.

First and foremost, the black paper in these albums is not archival. They are not acid free and are full of chemicals. The paste that was used to adhere the photographs is also not archival and can be damaging to photographs.

The first thought would be to remove the photographs from these albums. STOP!!

I would caution you about removing the photos from these types of black paper albums. I will say that if the paste has worn away or deteriorated enough that the photos come off the pages easy, then removing the photographs would be okay. Otherwise, DO NOT REMOVE THE PHOTOS! Dismantling a photograph album like this should be your last resort.

We know that the pages are not archival but you could do much more damage to the photographs trying to remove them than the paper is doing.

Wiseman Family Photo Album, Houston County, TN. Archives


Before you even start, put on GLOVES! When working with photographs, archivist always use gloves to keep the oils and dirt from their hands from getting on the photographs and causing damage. You can use white cotton gloves or regular latex gloves. Do not handle any photographs without wearing gloves.

I would suggest that you first digitize the pages in the photo album. Use a flat bed scanner, digital camera or some other device that allows you to lay the pages flat. Do not use any device that requires you to feed the pages through the device, that could cause damage.

Digitizing and documenting each and every photograph from the album is a great archiving tool. If something were to happen to the album, you will still have the digital images.

Use archival tissue paper and interweave the tissue paper between each and every page. This will create a barrier between the photographs and the adjacent black paper pages.

Interweaving Tissue Paper, Houston County, TN. Archives


Place the entire photograph album in an archival box. You will want to purchase a box that fits the album as perfectly as possible. If the album is moving around in the box, crumple up tissue paper and put around the album so it doesn't move. Do not cram the photo album in to too small of a box. You want the album to fit snuggly so it doesn't move at all.

Store the box with the album in a cool, dark and dry place. Never store documents, photographs or artifacts in an attic, basement or someplace where it is humid. Always keep out of the sunlight.

If you are fortunate enough to have these wonderful old black paper photo albums with your ancestor's photographs in them, you have a treasure! So, let's preserve and archive that album so that future generations can enjoy those photographs!


REMEMBER: IT'S NOT ALL ONLINE, CONTACT OR VISIT AN ARCHIVE TODAY!!

****

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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Oral Histories in the Archives

Oral histories are a great resource for the genealogist. Many local and state archives have oral histories in their collections. Seeking out oral histories is something every genealogist should have on their "To-Do List".

Oral History Program, Battleship New Jersey Museum & Memorial


Oral histories usually consist of voice recordings of people who are telling their life story or recounting their personal experience during a particular event. Oral histories could also be found in printed transcribed interviews. Maybe the person recounted their story to someone and then their story was typed up like a transcribed conversation or Q & A.

In the Houston County, TN. Archives we have oral histories of surviving WWII Veterans on video that were compiled in the 1990's. Sadly, many of these Veterans are now passed on but we have their voices and images on video as they recount their service during the war. These same oral history videos have also been transcribed and available in written format.

Houston County, TN. Archives Entrance


Many oral histories are of local residents telling about their experiences growing up in the area or recounting their personal experiences during The Great Flood, The Big Tornado or The Historic Hurricane. Natural disasters affected our ancestors as they affect us today and some of these stories have been captured on video, audio or in written transcripts.

Newspaper Clipping of Powell's Store During the Flood of 1968, Houston County, TN. Archives


Oral histories are not normally available on the shelves in the research area of an archive. The researcher will have to ask the archivist if they have oral histories. The archivist should be able to supply the researcher with an index of what is available. Once you find what interests you in the index, ask the archivist to bring you the record source. If it is video or audio, the archives should have the specific machine needed to play the recording. If the oral history is in written format, they should bring you the transcription. 

Sadly, there are not a tremendous amount of oral histories available. So, try not to be too disappointed if there isn't one for your ancestor. It is still a good idea to listen to or read oral histories by others in the community that experienced the same events during the same time period that your ancestor did. That way you can get a sense of what your ancestor saw, heard or experienced themselves.

So, add Oral Histories to your "To-Do List" and be sure to ask the archivist about them on the next research trip or contact with the archive.




REMEMBER: IT'S NOT ALL ONLINE, CONTACT OR VISIT AN ARCHIVE TODAY!


*********

Statistics say that there are only about 10% of all genealogical records online, the rest are sitting on shelves at the local archive waiting for the genealogist to discover them!

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Thursday, May 31, 2018

Preserving Old Family Letters

Stationary, envelopes, postage stamps....what am I describing? Yes, an old fashioned, handwritten letter.

Handwritten letter from Mattie to Miss Alice Reynolds dated October 25, 1903.
Located at the Houston County, Tennessee Archives

Today, most of us write emails, tweets, Facebook posts and texts to communicate with our family and friends. When was the last time you sat down and wrote an actual handwritten letter and mailed it to someone? This type of genealogy record source is what I call a "rare genealogical record source" because while the old letters still exist there are practically no new records of this type being produced.

As genealogists, what do we do with these old letters that we have in our family collections? We preserve and archive them!

Before the actual physical archiving starts, I always encourage genealogists to scan or digitize their letters and to transcribe them word for word, that way once you have physically archived them you don't need to handle them as much. Handling them with your hands can cause damage over time if the items are handled a lot.


Original envelope for letter by Miss Mary Carpenter with post mark of December 17, 1889, Erin, Tennessee.
Located at Houston County, Tennessee Archives

When archiving old letters, it is important to keep the original envelope with the letter if it has been saved. There is valuable genealogical information on the envelope that you want to save. My advice is to remove the letter from the envelope, flatten the letter and put both the letter and the envelope into an archival polyester sleeve or into an archival page protector. Store them in an archival file folder or in a 3-ring binder and keep in a dry, dark place where it is preferably as cold as possible. Heat and humidity can destroy your documents, so it is always a good idea to store your records in a cold environment.

Now, how do you find old letters in archives, libraries or any of our wonderful repositories that hold genealogical records? This task can be a bit difficult but if you are diligent you might just get rewarded.

Most old letters will be found in Manuscript Collections. These collections of records are usually arranged by subject, surname or with titles such as "John Doe Papers 1871-1922". Once you have identified a collection that interests you, then you need to look at the finding aid. The finding aid is a document that is produced by the archivist and is an outline of what the collection is all about and will include a list of what is contained in each box. Most of the time the box list is not detailed by what each piece of paper is in each folder but rather it will say "Folder #1: Correspondence 1871-1888". You will have to open the file and read through the correspondence to see if there is anything of interest to your research.

Greeting card with letter sent to Mrs. W.T. Smith of Erin, Tennessee dated 1919.  Notice how small this letter is next to this cell phone. Located in the Houston County, Tennessee Archives

Lastly, let's not forget postcards! Our ancestors were avid users of postcards of all kinds. The preservation methods described earlier in this blog can be used with postcards. Also, postcards will be found in Manuscript Collections the same as old letters. Postcards come in all shapes, sizes and kinds. There are even postcards made from photographs. If you are looking for a photograph of your ancestor, just maybe there is one out there that is on a postcard. 

Postcard to Master Marshall W. Wynns in Erin, Tennessee from L.F.J.
        Located in the Houston County, Tennessee Archives

While the art of letter writing is no longer in fashion, we as genealogists have an opportunity to peer into our ancestors lives by reading their wonderful letters. The information that could be contained on our ancestors letters help us to put "meat on the bones" of the ones we are researching and helps their story come alive!


REMEMBER: IT'S NOT ALL ONLINE, CONTACT OR VISIT AN ARCHIVE TODAY!


****

Get My Legacy QuickGuide

Preserving Old Family Letters: Tips From an Archives

PDF Version: http://legacy.familytreewebinars.com/?aid=1283 




Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Preserving Pressed Flowers

Many genealogist's have inherited their family member's documents, books, photographs and other genealogical materials. When it comes to the books we have inherited, I hope that everyone reading this blog post takes the time to search through all the books you are given to make sure to retrieve any scrap of paper, newspaper clipping, photo or pressed flowers that your family member put in those books. Even if the books you received are not genealogical in nature, search through them anyway. You just never know what you might find in their pages.




Now, let's talk about preserving pressed flowers. Most of the time when a genealogists encounters these items in books they are brittle, fragile and falling apart. It can be a challenge to remove these items in one piece and transfer them to a medium that will protect and preserve these precious family items.

First and foremost, make sure your hands are clean and free of any lotions or hand creams. The chemicals in these lotions can adversely affect the pressed items. There is no need to wear gloves, in fact, it is preferred that gloves not be used in this instance. The reason being, when gloves are worn, they remove the textile sensation you need to feel the items. It is important to feel how you are handling the items so that they are not damaged.

Example of Pressed Flowers


If you don't feel comfortable picking up the pressed items with your hands, use a plastic or rubber spatula. Do not use metal spatulas as their sharp edges could damage the items. Be sure the head of the spatula is as big as the item so that all if it can be picked up and transferred at the same time. An ordinary kitchen egg turner or spatula that you already have will do just fine for this project. If you find that any part of the item is stuck or adhered to the page, gently use the spatula to separate the item. I have found that most of the time pressed flowers and leaves are not stuck to pages but can be removed quite easily.

Two options that I can recommend preserving and protecting your pressed flowers, leaves and ferns are:

Specimen Mounting Boxes

These boxes are easy to use and can be purchased at any of the online archival materials stores (see list below), the local hobby store, taxidermy stores and at Amazon.com. These types of mounting boxes are used for pressed flowers, leaves, preserving butterflies and other zoological items. These boxes are great to use if you plan to display the items.


Example Specimen Mounting Box from Gaylord Archival


Suspension Boxes

These boxes are also easy to use and will protect the pressed items once they are removed from the books. These boxes can also be purchased at any of the online archival materials store and at any hobby store. The clear, polystyrene box has flexible membranes in the top and bottom which conform to the item, holding it firmly in place. The nice thing about these particular boxes is they can be held and the items inside can be viewed from all sides. These suspension boxes also come in many different sizes to accommodate the different sizes of flowers, leaves and other pressed items.

Example of Suspension Boxes from Gaylord Archival


Remember, your ancestor or family member took the time to lay those flowers, leaves and ferns in books to be pressed. They were making a day of remembrance, remembering a family member or just appreciating the foliage itself. These items meant something to them at the time and it should mean something to us today. Sadly, many times there are no notes or writings to tell us exactly why our ancestors pressed these items. We are left to guess at their significance but what we can do is preserve and protect them for future generations to enjoy.

Archival Material Websites

Here is a listing of online archival materials stores. They all have online catalogs and paper catalogs that can be sent to your home. Also, be sure to sign up for email notifications because they periodically have sales and will send out email notifications:

Gaylord Archival
http://www.gaylord.com/

Hollinger Metal Edge
https://www.hollingermetaledge.com/

Light Impressions
http://www.lightimpressionsdirect.com/

University Products
https://www.universityproducts.com/

Brodart
http://www.brodart.com/


REMEMBER: IT'S NOT ALL ONLINE, CONTACT OR VISIT AN ARCHIVE TODAY!


******

Scrapbooks: A Genealogist Gold Mine QuickGuide

http://legacy.familytreewebinars.com/?aid=1413



Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Our Ancestors and Their Gardens


As the Summer begins and gardens are being planted, have you thought about your ancestors and the gardens they planted?

Many of our ancestors were farmers and had fields and fields of crops. Then there are those of us that have ancestors that lived in the city and were lucky to have a potted plant.

Whatever our ancestors planted, harvested or just enjoyed, are we documenting it?



During this Summer, why not take the time to add to your genealogy the types of crops your ancestors raised, the different flowers that were in their home gardens and all the different kinds of vegetables and fruits they grew for the family table. Did they grow prize winning roses or beautiful tulips?

Maybe your ancestors planted "Victory Gardens" also called "War Gardens" during World War I or World War II. Victory Gardens were vegetable, fruit and herb gardens planted at homes and public parks in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia. These gardens were used to relieve the strain on the public food supply. These gardens were also considered a morale booster for those on the home front, especially those that had family members off fighting the war.



My Mother grew up in Ohio and she often told me about the cherry trees that her father, Forrest Cecil Bartram, grew in their yard. I have documented this fact in my genealogy research. This same Grandfather retired from Goodyear Tire after over 40 years of service and moved with his wife and my Grandmother, Ida Kathryn (Drummond) Bartram, to Cocoa Beach, Florida where they raised all kinds of fruit trees. This was the first time I had ever heard of and tasted a kumquat. For the record, I don't like kumquats! LOL!



So, as we begin the Summer, take time to document your ancestors gardens!


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REMEMBER: IT'S NOT ALL ONLINE, CONTACT OR VISIT AN ARCHIVE TODAY!!


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Disaster Planning for the Genealogist

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