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A Genealogist In The Archives: 2017

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Loose Marriage Records....What Are They?

Marriage records are one of those record groups that is a staple in genealogy research. After census records, birth and death records, we as genealogists always look for marriage records.

Marriage License Certificate, located in the Loose Marriage Records Collection at Houston County, Tennessee Archives


Most marriage records are recorded in large volumes or books and are referenced by Book and Page #.  Did you know there is another set of marriage records called "Loose Marriage Records"? 

"Loose Marriage Records" are a record source that a lot of archives, historical/genealogical societies and libraries who hold Manuscript Collections have on their shelves. These records are called "loose" because they are documents separate from the bound volumes and are considered the "working papers" of the marriage licensing process. These files can hold just about anything but most of them have a copy of the original marriage license among other records. 

Marriage License located in Loose Marriage Records Collection at Houston County, Tennessee Archives


In the Houston County, Tennessee Archives we have these types of records dating from 1871-2010.  Our files have such things as parental permission to marry letters, blood test results, letters from clergy stating the couple went through pre-marriage counseling and much more!

Loose Marriage Records can hold interesting and unique records not found in the bound volumes.  When a genealogist visits an archive they should ask the archivist or clerk if they have "Loose Marriage Records". Hopefully, the repository will have an index that can be quickly checked to find the surname your looking for in these records.

Parental consent form located in Loose Marriage Records at the Houston County, Tennessee Archives


This group of records is just another example of hidden treasures in our archives. Some of these records have been microfilmed but very few are online. 

The next time you are at an archive researching marriage records, don't forget to ask if they have "Loose Marriage Records", you might surprised by what you find.



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


*******

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Friday, November 10, 2017

Preserving Our Ancestor's Military Medals and Ribbons

Many of us have military veterans in our families. As we celebrate them on this special day, we should remember them and honor them each and every day throughout the year.

Military medals and ribbons that our ancestor's received during their service may be part of our genealogical records and artifacts. Do you know how to store and preserve them?

Example of Military Medals


The process of archiving military medals and ribbons is quite simple. The materials you will need are:






Take each medal and each ribbon and wrap each one carefully in a piece of archival tissue paper. Then lay the tissue covered medal or ribbon in the archival storage box. Putting more than one medal or ribbon in the box is perfectly okay, just don't stack them on top of each other. To make sure they don't move around in the box, crumple up more archival tissue paper and put around the medals and ribbons. It's that simple!

It would also be a good idea to include a typed or handwritten description of who the medals belonged to, information about their service, what type of medals they are and why they were awarded. 

Many like to display military medals and ribbons in frames or shadow boxes. Displaying them in this manner is perfectly fine. My only caution would be to keep the framed medals and ribbons out of the sunlight, especially the ribbons as they could fade if exposed to sunlight.

Example of Military Medal Display in a Shadow Box


So, as we Remember and Honor Our Veterans, let's also take time to preserve their medals and ribbons.



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


******* 

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Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Preserving Our Ancestor's Military Uniform

Saturday, November 11, 2017 we honor our Military Veterans on Veteran's Day here in the United States.

As genealogists we try to document our ancestors that served in the military. That can include obtaining service records, pension records, old letters and even our ancestor's uniform. Many of us are fortunate enough to have inherited a military uniform or at least the jacket if nothing else. So, what is the best way to archive or preserve a military uniform.


WWII Uniform Donated to Houston County, TN. Archives

Surprisingly, the process of preserving a military uniform is quite easy and something any genealogist can do.

The archival materials that you will need to purchase are:

-Archival tissue paper to layer in the bottom of the archival box and to cover the uniform
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-An archival box large enough to hold the military uniform
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To start the archiving process, lay a piece of archival tissue paper in the archival box. It's okay if the tissue paper is larger than the box, once the uniform is in the box you can fold the excess tissue paper onto the uniform.

Next, place the uniform on the archival tissue paper in the archival box. If you have more than one piece of the uniform (pants, jacket, etc.), place the first piece in the box, then put a piece of tissue paper on that piece and then lay another piece. Making sure to have layers of archival tissue paper in-between each piece of the uniform. You do not want the uniform pieces to touch but have a layer of tissue paper protecting each piece.

Tissue paper in military jacket. Houston County, TN. Archives


Finally, lay a piece of archival tissue paper on the top of the last uniform piece. If there is excess room in the box and the uniform is moving around in the box, crumple up archival tissue paper and place it around the uniform to make sure the uniform fits snuggly in the box and doesn't move. Do not stuff the box so much that you are crowding the uniform in the box and creasing the uniform. The uniform needs to be flat and not creased as it sits in the box.


Be sure to write up information about the uniform such as what war, who it belonged to and how you received it. Place this information in the box with the uniform. Maybe include a photograph of the person wearing the uniform if you have one.

Store the boxed uniform in a cool, dark and dry place. Do not store in an attic, basement or where it will come in contact with direct sunlight and humidity.

Preserving our ancestor's military history is important and making sure their uniforms are stored properly is also important.



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


*******


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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Genealogist/Home Archivist Tool Box to Records Preservation

This is the last day of "31 Days of Tips from an Archivist"! I have had so much fun sharing tips and advice about researching in archives and especially records preservation.

If you have enjoyed my blog post during the month of October, be sure to subscribe to my blog in a feed or by email so you can receive my posts once a week.



In this post I am going to give you a list of tools that you as a genealogist and home archivist should purchase and have on hand in your "Home Archivist Tool Box" so you are ready to preserve your genealogical records, photographs and artifacts.

First, you will need a tool box! Yep, I recommend an actual tool box to keep all your materials in so they are all in one place and don't get lost. I have a tool box just like this one that I use in the Houston County, TN. Archive to put all my archival tools in so I can access them when I am working on records preservation:

Tool Box
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The first item to put in your tool box are soft #2 pencils. In the archives, we never use ball point pens on documents or photographs. We always use soft #2 pencils to identify photographs and to source documents:

Soft #2 Pencils
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If you find that you have a document or photograph that pencil will not write on, you can use a pen called an Identi Pen. It is preferred that pencil is used all the time but there are some cases where pencil will not show up and this Identi Pen can be used.

Identi Pen



Next, you should obtain some soft bristle brushes. These will be used to brush off dust, dirt and other specs of grime that could be inside of books, scrapbooks and on your documents. I recommend getting make-up brushes, they are fairly cheap and work very well:

Make-Up Brushes




Next, every Home Archivist Tool Kit should have a micro spatula! This tool is used for many jobs in an archives like removing staples. I consider this an essential tool for the home archivist:

Micro Spatula




Gloves! The next item to put in your tool kit are gloves. You can get white cotton gloves or nitrile gloves. These need to be used for handling photographs because the dirt and oils on your hands can damage photographs. There is not need to use gloves when handling documents, nice clean hands will do the trick!

Cotton Gloves
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Another must have for the tool kit is a specialized Dry Cleaning Sponge. This sponge can be used to clean dirty or soot covered documents. This sponge could remove some stains and dirty spots on documents and is great to clean up dusty and dirty documents. CAUTION: do not use on pencil writing! This sponge will erase the pencil writing.

Soot and Dirt Cleaning Sponge




And lastly, Document Repair Tape. In the archives, we don't use "tape" on anything. But there is a particular type of repair tape that is acceptable if used sparingly. If you have small tears or rips in your documents, this repair tape is perfectly fine to use. Just be sure to place the tape on the back of the document where there is no writing. 

Document Repair Tape




If you want to see me talking about the "Home Archivist Tool Kit", you can watch my guest appearance on Dear Myrtle's Wacky Wednesday hangout. It is free to watch and there is much more information talked about on each item covered in this blog post:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zAq3KlTVSKY





Monday, October 30, 2017

Preserving Your Ancestor's War Letters and V-Mail

Many genealogists have letters from their ancestor's during their time in the military and especially letters that was sent to family members during wartime. These letters can include handwritten letters, postcards and V-Mail. Also, among genealogical family papers could be Western Union Messages that was sent by the soldier or by the U.S. Government to advise the family of the death of their family member or other information.

WWII V-Mail Correspondence, Houston County, TN. Archives


So, how do we preserve this correspondence? Whether these letters date back to the Revolutionary War or as recent as last week you received a letter from your son from Afghanistan, the process is the same and very easy for the genealogist to accomplish.

The archival materials you will need purchase:

-Archival document sleeves to put the letters and documents in, these come in all shapes and sizes to accommodate the various sizes of stationary

-Archival file folders, to put the documents that are in archival sleeves

-Archival boxes, to put the file folders full of correspondence

I am asked all the time about whether or not the letters should be taken out of their envelopes and my answer is a resounding YES! Each and every letter should be removed from their envelope, unfolded and flattened. Place the letter AND the envelope in the same archival document sleeve. This keeps the envelope with the letter it belongs to and doesn't get mixed up with other letters. Be sure to fold down the flap on the envelope where the glue part is located. Even if there is no glue remaining, it doesn't need to touch the letter.

Correspondence in Vertical File, Houston County, TN. Archives


Take the letters, postcards and other correspondence that you have put in archival sleeves and place them in archival file folders. You can put more than one letter in a file folder but I wouldn't put more than ten letters in one file folder. It is up to you how your label your file folders, however, a suggestion could be to put the file folders in chronological order.

Once the correspondence has been put in archival sleeves and file folders, the folders then need to be stored in archival Hollinger boxes. Some like to store their file folders in filing cabinets and that is also acceptable. Be sure to label the Hollinger boxes so that it is known what is contained in them.

V-Mail Correspondence, Houston County, TN. Archives


An additional way to preserve military correspondence is to transcribe all the letters and save those transcriptions electronically. So, if you have letters, postcards and V-mail from your ancestors when they were in the military, be sure to properly preserve them.




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




*******

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Preserving Old Family Letters: Tips from an Archivist

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Sunday, October 29, 2017

Preserving a Lock of Hair

Genealogists love anything they can get their hands on about their ancestors. Whether that is documents, photographs, ephemera or 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.

Today's tip will explain 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 located in the Houston County, TN. Archives.

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!



********



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

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Saturday, October 28, 2017

Finding School Records in the Archives

Today's tip is about one of the more interesting sources of records available in a lot of archives and that is school records. Even if your ancestor didn't attend school as a child, you might be surprised by what can be found in the various types of school records.

School Enrollment from Camp Ground School in Houston County, TN., located at the Houston County, Tennessee Archives

School Transcripts or Attendance and Grade Reports: These types of records were kept at the teacher level and by the school district. These records would record when the person attended school and what grades they made in each subject. Sometimes a copy of these records were kept by the teacher and these records will get donated to an archive when that teacher passes away.

Cave Orchard School Register ca. 1929, located in the Houston County, Tennessee Archives

School Board Minute Books: These are a very interesting and a useful record source for the genealogist. These books record the business of the local school board which could include anything. This particular type of record is where you might find your ancestor even if they didn't attend school. Maybe they hauled coal for the coal burning stoves in the schools and they were appointed by the school board for this job, their name would be listed in these minutes. Possibly your adult ancestor had a problem with a teacher and they brought their grievance to the school board, this could have played out in the minute books and your ancestor would be named. A lot of local residents were involved with the school system but never actually attended school.

Houston County High School Yearbooks, located at the Houston County, Tennessee Archives

Yearbooks and School Newspapers: Many of our archives, historical societies, genealogical societies and libraries have collections of yearbooks and school newspapers.Yearbooks not only have photos of students and information about school clubs but they also will have local business advertisements. These local business would have been solicited to pay a fee for the advertisement to help pay for the printing of the yearbook. Possibly your ancestor's business is in one of these yearbooks. School newspapers. Many of our schools published a school newspaper and the articles were written by students and a lot of times there are photographs from school events. Checking school newspapers for our ancestors and their school activities is something to put on your "To Do List".

Houston County High School Newspaper, ca. 1926, located at the Houston County, Tennessee Archives

Photographs: When looking for your ancestor's photographs in an archives be sure to check any school photograph collections. They could include individual photographs as well as photographs of sports teams or clubs that your ancestor was involved with.

Erin High School Girls Basketball Team, ca. 1946, located at the Houston County, Tennessee Archives
Unknown school photo, undated, located at the Houston County, Tennessee Archives

Maybe your ancestor was one of the teachers of one of the schools. Some archives do have collections of teachers records such as teaching certificates, student registeries and grade books.

Teaching License for Gertha Brooks, ca. 1919, located at the Houston County, Tennessee Archives

School records are a must when doing any genealogy research and even if your ancestor did not attend any organized schools, remember that they could still be named in some of the school records that exist. Don't overlook this very valuable resource!




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


*****


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Friday, October 27, 2017

Finding Photographs in the Archives

Finding a photograph of your ancestor can be a genealogical accomplishment and a reason to do the "Genealogy Happy Dance". Many genealogists, like myself, are still looking for their ancestor's photograph. Did you know that many archives have photograph collections? This fact may not be known by most genealogists because photograph collections are not in plain site. Photograph collections are usually housed in a records vault or in a back room in cold storage stacks.


Unidentified photograph in the Houston County, TN. Archives


Photographs are donated to archives on a regular basis. Recently, the local newspaper in Houston County, Tennessee donated their entire collection of old photographs to the Houston County Archives. All photographs are now taken digitally and never printed. These boxes of photographs included people, buildings, local events and many other subjects. The Houston County Archives is now processing these photographs, inventorying them and will eventually digitize them to be shared online. 

Donated Photo Albums, Houston County, TN. Archives


Photographs of individuals, groups, couples and children are a big part of most photograph collections. Also, photographs of local buildings, houses and business can be part of the collection. There could also be school group photos, church Sunday school classes and the local Garden Club available in archived photograph collections.

Whenever visiting an archive, always ask about their Photograph Collection. The archivist may first give you an index to look through. If you see something of interest, tell the archivist or make a written request that those particular photographs be pulled and brought to you.

When the archivist brings the photographs, do not be surprised if you are asked to wear gloves to handle them. The oils and dirt on hands can damage photographs if handled without gloves. Even though the photographs maybe contained in archival sleeves, gloves may still be required. 

Tools of the Archivist, Including Gloves, Houston County, TN. Archives


Ask about the "Unidentified Photographs" in the collection. Almost all archives have unidentified photographs just waiting for someone to identify them. This group is usually the largest section of the photograph collection. If you know what your ancestor's looked like, please take time to search through the unidentified photographs to see if you can find identify any of the photographs. 

Unidentified Group Photo, Houston County, TN. Archives


It is always so sad when I receive a donation of photographs and most of them are unidentified. I look at the faces in those photographs and I know those people belong to someone who is doing genealogy research. I just wish I could reunite them.

The next time you are visiting an archive, talking with the archivist on the phone or emailing them, ask about their photograph collections. You might be pleasantly surprised!




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


***********


Photographs Can be Found in Scrapbooks Too!!


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Thursday, October 26, 2017

Preserving Diaries and Journals

Diaries and journals are some of the most unique records that can be found in family records. Many genealogists can only hope that they will receive or inherit diaries or journals from their deceased family members or ancestors. These very personal record sources have helped many genealogy researchers by supplying dates of events, family secrets, family tragedies and family successes.

Preserving diaries and journals can prolong the life of the record. The process is quite simple and only takes purchasing a couple of archival items.

You will need:

An Archival Box: In the Houston County, TN. Archives we like to use this Adjustable 1-Piece Rare Book Box OR the Clamshell Custom Rare Book Box, which can be purchased at any online archival supply store.

Adjustable 1-Piece Rare Book Box











Clamshell Rare Book Box























                                                                           



Archival Tissue Paper: Tissue paper is not always necessary in this process but in an archive setting we like to use archival tissue paper to wrap the diary or journal for additional protection before the book is placed in the book box. Also, if there are pasted items in the diary or journal such as newspaper clippings, it is suggested that archival tissue paper be placed between the pages where these items are located to deter ink transfer or other damage. Feel free to insert archival tissue paper anywhere in the diary or journal that you feel necessary, it will be an additional layer of protection.

Wrap the diary or journal in the tissue paper. Do not use any tape or adhesive to secure the tissue paper, just fold the ends neatly. Place the diary or journal in the book box. If the diary or journal doesn't fix snuggly, crumple up some archival tissue paper and put around the book so that it does fit snuggly in the book box.

It's as simple as that!

When storing diaries and journals or any rare books, be sure to lay them down on their sides and do not stand them up on their ends. The pressure on the spine when they are stored on their ends on shelves can be damaging to the books. Store in a cool, dark and dry place. Do not store in an attic, basement or where the humidity levels are too high.

So, if you have your ancestor's diaries and journals, use these simple steps to preserve them for your descendants.

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/


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

******

Have Scrapbooks? Want to know how to Preserve them?

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