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A Genealogist In The Archives

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

GenFriends with Dr. Penny Walters

Have you ever wondered why we do genealogy research? Why do we have this addiction to researching our ancestors? What ethical concerns do we all have when we find information that may not be something all our family members would want out there?

Well, Dr. Penny Walters discusses that in her two books that were recently discussed with the author on GenFriends, a genealogy discussion group.



Dr. Walters joined the GenFriends panel to discuss her two books:

The Ethical Delimmas in Genealogy



The Psychology of Searching



I was part of this discussion as one of the panelists for GenFriends and found these topics to be quite interesting and something I felt other genealogist would enjoy exploring.

You can watch the full episode of GenFriends at this link:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5U2s4xmDtwg

After you have watched the discussion on YouTube you can then decide if you would like to purchase Dr. Walter's books, they can be purchased at Amazon:

The Ethical Delimmas in Genealogy
The Psychology of Searching



Exploring why we research our ancestors and the ethical dilemmas we face is something many of us think about and Dr. Penny Walters has researched and written about in her two books.

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The Home Archivist: Preserving Family Records Like A Pro! Webinar by Melissa Barker

Learn from a professional archivist how to preserve, protect and archive family records, photographs and artifacts.

Here is the link to view the presentation: http://legacy.familytreewebinars.com/?aid=4729




Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Buffered vs Unbuffered Archival Tissue Paper: What's the Difference?

Archival materials are something that archivists and conservators work with on a daily basis. When we are working on an archival project, we reach for the materials we need to help us preserve documents, photographs and artifacts.

As genealogists and home archivists, you need to be using archival materials to preserve the documents, photographs and artifacts you have in your collections. Knowing the right kinds of archival materials to use is a necessity.



One of the staples of any archive is archival tissue paper. Archival tissue paper is a must for any genealogist and home archivist. We use this archival material to line archival boxes before putting things into them. We crumple it up and put it around items in boxes so that they don't move around in the box and get damaged. There are many uses for archival tissue paper and just like white gloves, the home archivist should have a supply on hand.

There are two kinds of archival tissue paper, buffered and unbuffered.

The difference between these two kinds of archival tissue paper is:

Buffered Archival Tissue Paper: This tissue paper is "buffered" because it contains an alkaline substance, usually calcium carbonate, added as an alkaline reserve or "buffer" to counteract acids that may form in the material.

Unbuffered Archival Tissue Paper: This tissue paper is free of the alkaline substance



Most genealogy records, photographs and artifacts would benefit from being archived in buffered materials like boxes, tissue paper, folders, etc. There are some exceptions:

Dye Transfer Prints or Cyanotypes Photographs: Should only be archived in unbuffered materials. These particular types of photographs and/or blueprints should never be archived in buffered materials due to the reaction of the calcium carbonate that could happen with the photographs.

Protein Based Materials: Materials that come from animals should be stored in unbuffered archival materials or at least should not come in contact with buffered materials. These items could include silk, wool, leather, feathers, animal specimens, horsehair, etc.

Using the right materials to preserve our family documents and heirlooms will help them to last for generations to come!


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


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Need Some Help for Your Next Research Trip!

Get My Legacy QuickGuide

Researching in Libraries and Archives: The Do's and Don'ts

PDF Version: http://legacy.familytreewebinars.com/?aid=1159

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Genealogy Records Off the Beaten Path

Court records, deeds records, scrapbooks, photographs... these are some of the more well known record groups that most researchers access when they visit an archive, historical society or library.  

But did you know that there are numerous other record groups and types that are housed in archives that are almost never requested to be viewed by researchers. Why is that? Maybe it's because the researcher doesn't know these wonderful collections exist.

Wisdom Lodge #300 Newspaper Clipping, Houston County, TN. Archives
                     

Here are 5 tips for genealogy researchers to learn about and view unique records in the archives where their ancestors lived:

1. Plan, plan, plan! Every genealogist who visits an archives, historical society or library to do research needs to have a research plan in place before they step foot in the door of the facility.  

2. Ask the archivist or librarian what record collections they have that are unique or unknown to the general public. Possibly there is an index of what is in the collection or better yet a Finding Aid.

3. Ask the archivist or librarian to allow you to view all of their records indexes or all of their Finding Aids. Most repositories will have these printed and in notebooks or they will be available on patron computers in the facility.

Election Worker's Payroll Request, Houston County, TN. Archives
                                       

4. Specifically ask to view the Vertical File Collection index. This index will be alphabetical and will include surnames as well as subjects such as "Erin United Methodist Church". Each file could contain just about anything. Remember...Vertical Files are like a box of chocolates, you never know what your going to get!

5. Specifically ask to view the index to the Manuscript Collection. Again, this listing will be alphabetical. The titles could be named anything, some of the more familiar titles will look something like this: "John Doe's Family Papers 1812-1900", "Erin Methodist Church 1848-1920". These collections could be contained in one box or in multiple boxes. The Finding Aid for the collection will help you decipher what is in the collection.

The next time you visit an archives, historical society or library to dig up those records on your ancestors, try these 5 tips to help you find those unique records, the ones that will tell more of your ancestor's story, the ones that will put "meat on your ancestors's bones"!



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

****

Want to know more about researching in archives?

Get My Legacy Family Tree QuickGuide:

Researching in Libraries and Archives: The Do's and Don'ts

PDF Version:  http://legacy.familytreewebinars.com/?aid=1159






A Great Companion QuickGuide is:

It's Not All Online: Researching in Archives

PDF Version: http://legacy.familytreewebinars.com/?aid=1202





Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Preserving Pressed Flowers

Many genealogists 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 genealogist 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!


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Scrapbooks: A Genealogist Gold Mine QuickGuide

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


Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Preserving A Lock Of Hair

Genealogists love anything they can get their hands on about their ancestors. Whether that is documents, photographs, ephemera and memorabilia, we want to collect it all. Many times family members hand down or bequeath genealogical related records and memorabilia to the next generation.

A lock of hair could be one of those unique items that a genealogist could receive among all the other documents and photos. In some families, it was even customary to clip a lock of hair from the deceased to save the memory of that person.

Here is how to preserve a lock of hair so that it endures for generations to come. For this example, I have used a lock of hair housed in the Houston County, TN. Archives Manuscript Collections.

This lock of hair is housed in an old harmonica box and is tied with a delicate blue ribbon in the Houston County, TN. Archives. On the top of the box is handwritten "N.H. Scholes, Halls Creek, Tenn". You can also see a place where there was once a postage stamp. I estimate that this lock of hair and box are dated to the late 1800's or early 1900's.

Harmonica Box with lock of hair. Located in the Houston County, Tennessee Archives

First, the lock of hair was photographed, in the box and out of the box, to document the original disposition of the artifact. It is important that the lock of hair in the possession of the genealogist be documented in a similar way.

Photo of artifact inside the box as received. Located at the Houston County, Tennessee Archives

Photo of artifact outside of the box. Located at the Houston County, Tennessee Archives

Next, the box was lined with a piece of acid free, archival safe tissue paper.

Harmonica box with acid free tissue paper. Located at the Houston County, Tennessee Archives

Then the lock of hair was carefully placed in the tissue paper lined box.

Lock of hair in the box with acid free tissue paper. Located at the Houston County, Tennessee Archives

Last, carefully fold in the sides and ends of the tissue paper so that the lock of hair is entirely covered. Replace the lid back on the box.

Completed preservation of the lock of hair. Located at the Houston County, Tennessee Archives

The box with the lock of hair is then placed in an acid free box for additional protection. If you just have a lock of hair with no original storage container, purchase an archival safe box to preserve the lock of hair.

Locks of hair in the genealogists collections need to be preserved right along with the paper records and treasured for generations to come.


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

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Do you have old family letters? Want to know how to preserve them?

Get My Legacy Family Tree QuickGuide:

Preserving Old Family Letters: Tips from an Archivist

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


Thursday, December 19, 2019

Finding Records Where They Don't Belong

Ever wonder how some records get into some archives?

Are you looking for records for you ancestors that are possibly being housed in places that they seemingly don't belong?

As an archivist, I know full well that many of our archives have records in them that don't belong but thankfully they are being preserved.

Loose Records, Houston County, TN. Archives

For instance, in a recent announcement by the University of Arkansas, they revealed they had received a donation of the New York Post newspaper's photo archive.

Examples of Photographs from the New York Post


WAIT! What? The New York Post photo archive is being housed in Arkansas? Yep, you read that right!

How did that happen?!!

According to this article...

http://www.texarkanagazette.com/news/arkansas/story/2019/nov/17/arkansas-university-receives-old-new-york-post-photo-archive/804465/

The collection was donated in 2017 by an anonymous donor. While it's not typically something you'd find at the University of Arkansas, Dennis T. Clark, dean of libraries, said it "we are fortunate to have this opportunity".

I know in my own case, as the archivist for the Houston County, Tennessee Archives, I have accepted a collection of genealogy research for surnames that have nothing to do with our area because they were going to be thrown away. Two sisters came to the archives with their mother's 50 years worth of genealogy research and told me "If you don't want it, we are just going to throw it away". Well, I couldn't let those records walk back out the archives door, so I accepted them. Our plan is to archive them and make them available to the public, this way they are being saved and preserved.

Genealogy Research Notebooks, Houston County, TN. Archives

So, how does someone find records where they don't belong? This is where the internet can be very helpful. Many of these types of records are housed in state archives, university archives and local county archives. Looking at the websites of these archives and specifically at their indexes, catalogs and digitized collections might help you locate records where they don't belong.

Other websites that could be of help are the following:

Internet Archive
https://archive.org/

Archive Grid
https://researchworks.oclc.org/archivegrid/

Searching these websites for surnames or locations might help you locate archived collections that are in archives where you wouldn't think they would be located.

So, the next time you think you have searched everywhere for your ancestors records, try looking in places where the records shouldn't be!

Remember: It's Not All Online, Contact or Visit an Archive Today!

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Needs some tips and tricks to get your family members talking about family history? 

Get my Legacy Family Tree Quick Guide

Family Gatherings: Dragging Genealogy Information Out of Your Family Members


Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Finding Christmas in the Archives

We are now only 2 weeks away from Christmas 2019! Many of us are scrambling to get the grocery shopping done, present shopping completed and completing and mailing out those Christmas cards.

Vintage Postcard


As I work here in the archives, I am reminded of the Christmas items I run across as I process records. The records that are donated to an archive can literally encompass anything and it makes me smile when I am processing a records collection and come across a piece of Christmas cheer!

So, how do you find Christmas in the Archives? Here are some examples:

Local Store Advertisements: Many local stores advertise their Christmas sales and offerings. They will also produce special brochures and advertisements at Christmas time to entice the local shoppers to come into their stores. These types of ephemera, as it is usually called, can be located in the Vertical Files Collection of an archives or in the Manuscript Collection.

Mitchum Drug Co. Advertisement, Houston County, TN. Archives


Scrapbooks: Many archives have scrapbooks as part of their records collections. These scrapbooks are personally put together by an individual and could contain any number of documents, photographs and ephemera. In a few of the scrapbooks we have here in the Houston County, Tennessee Archives, there are Christmas cards and postcards. Seeing the vintage cards really puts you in the Christmas Spirit!

Christmas Postcard from Evelyn Ellis Scrapbook, Houston County, TN. Archives


Correspondence: A lot of our families were not able to be with each other at Christmas for whatever reason. Maybe it was war time and members of the family were off to war in a foreign country. Maybe our ancestors just lived too far away from each other and couldn't make the trek to meet up with family members for Christmas. If your lucky, possibly you have Christmas letters in your genealogy collection. These types of correspondence exist in the archives too! Most of the time these types of correspondence will be found in specific Manuscript Collections.

Christmas Greeting Letter, Houston County, TN. Archives


This is just a few ways you can "Find Christmas in the Archives"!

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

*****

Old Family Letters! Do you have them? Are you preserving them properly? Find out how to preserve your old family letters from an archivist!

Preserving Old Family Letters: Tips from an Archivist

http://legacy.familytreewebinars.com/?aid=1168