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A Genealogist In The Archives: 2017

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Are Family Histories in the Archives? You Bet They Are!

As the archivist for the Houston County, Tennessee Archives, I am asked all the time if we have Family Histories or Family Genealogies in our collections.  I am always pleased to be able to say "YES".  While we may not have one for every surname known to have lived in Houston County, we do have many in our records collections.

Family histories that have been compiled by genealogy researchers are a great research tool for the genealogist. While they may not be 100% correct, they can be used as a guide to help you find more documents or give you an idea of where to look next for your ancestors.

Vertical File Drawer for the letter "C" containing Surname Files, located at the Houston County, Tennessee Archives

Most family histories are part of a larger collection of records that have been donated to the archives. Recently, the Houston County Archives received a records donation of someone's genealogy research that include several 3-ring binders full of information and compiled family histories. Some of these surnames are not native to Houston County but we will archive them anyway. Once this collection is cataloged, it will be open to the public for research and in the Finding Aid it will indicated what family histories are included by surname.

There are times when family histories or family records are donated to an archive, historical society or library that are not native to the area where the facility is located. That is why it is very important that you don't give up looking for your ancestor's records.

Compiled genealogy research in 3-ring binders donated to the Houston County, Tennessee Archives


When visiting an archive, family histories will be in one of two places. First, they could be in the Vertical File Collections, sometimes called Subject File Collections. Ask the archivist if there is an index to the Vertical File Collection. This index will have surnames listed and if a surname of interest is found, ask for that file to be pulled for research.

The other place family histories could be found is in Manuscript Collections. The manuscript collection contains records collections that have been donated to the archive such as the collection mentioned above that the Houston County Archives just received. Also, see my blog post about Manuscript Collections here.

Ask the archivist to view the index of their Manuscript Collection and if a collection is of interest, ask to see the Finding Aid for that collection. Within the finding aid will be a folder by folder listing of what is contained in the entire collection and there should be listed "Family History" or "Family Genealogy".

Unfortunately, most of these types of records are not online and will have be accessed by visiting an archive or contacting them by email, snail mail or phone call.

So, the next time you think to yourself, "Do archives have family histories?", you know the answer is YES!



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



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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Autograph Books, The Social Media of Yesterday

Many of us enjoy Facebook or Twitter everyday to keep up with our family and friends. Connecting with others by social media has become the norm today.

Autograph books at the Houston County, Tennessee Archives

Our ancestors used different mediums to connect with friends and family. One of those mediums were autograph books. Many of our ancestors had these types of books and filled them with signatures of friends, family, schoolmates and other people they came in contact with on a daily basis. Sometimes there was just a signature and other times there was a short message of encouragement, a poem or a pleasant greeting.

Inside of Autograph books at the Houston County, Tennessee Archives

Autograph books come in all shapes and sizes. Some were leather bound and others had different colored pages. These books were a type of "social media" back in the day and were very popular.

Autograph book page for Ruth McAuley dated 1893 at the Houston County, Tennessee Archives

Autograph books were very popular with school children, especially graduating seniors or college graduates. These students used autograph books to capture their final year of school and to record memories from their school friends.

Autograph book page for Shirley (Unknown) dated 1938 at the Houston County, Tennessee Archives 

Some of you may have an autograph book that belonged to your ancestor in your own personal genealogy collection. If you don't, it's possible there could be one located in a local archive collection, historical society or genealogical society collection.

Autograph book page for Ludelia Marable, Senior at Erin High School 1934-1935 at Houston County, Tennessee Archives

Autograph books are usually located in the Manuscript Collection of an archive. They will probably be part of a larger collection of records. You will need to check the Finding Aid to the individual collection to see if an autograph book is listed as being in the collection.

Next time you are researching in an archive, ask if they have autograph books and maybe they will have one for your ancestor. Or maybe they will have one for someone your ancestor knew and your ancestor signed it. Autograph books are a great genealogical resource to find information or just a signature to document your ancestor's life story.


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

*****

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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Genealogy and the Local Fair

Next week, September 13-16, 2017, Houston County, Tennessee will have it's annual County Fair!

Stewart and Houston Counties Fair, ca. 1900, Houston County, TN. Archives

I love this time of year because it means Fall is on the way and attending the fair brings back such wonderful childhood memories.

Have you ever thought about your ancestors and if they attended or better yet participated in the county fair?

Another great record source for genealogist are Fair Records!

Many of our wonderful archives have collections of records and memorabilia from the local county fair or the state fair in their records collections. These collections could be archived by themselves or they could be part of a larger manuscript collection.

Houston County Agricultural and School Fair, ca. 1930, Houston County, TN. Archives


So, what can a genealogists find in Fair Records?

  • Information that your ancestor helped organize the fair as a committee member or head of a particular event

  • Information that your ancestor submitted her best canned peaches for judging and even won a blue ribbon.

  • Information that your ancestor put his best cow on display and won a cash prize

  • Information that your ancestor showed her handmade quilt and won "Best in Show"

And this is just to name a few items that can be found in fair records. Maybe your ancestor just attended the fair and wrote about it in their diary. Fair records at an archive can give you more background and details about that particular fair that your ancestor wrote about.

Houston County Agricultural and School Fair Program, ca. 1930, Houston County, TN. Archives


The county fair was usually a major event in our ancestor's towns and lives. Seeking out these records and recording the information found in them can add to our ancestor's life story.

Knowing how our ancestor's lived and what they participated in helps us to know them better.

The next time you are researching at the archives, ask them if they have Fair Records!

Until next time......Remember.......

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


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Thursday, August 31, 2017

Free Download of Disaster Planning for the Genealogist!

Legacy Family Tree is offering my Legacy Quick Guide Disaster Planning for the Genealogist for FREE through Sunday, September 3, 2017!

Here is the official announcement!





FREE DOWNLOAD: Disaster Planning for the Genealogist

Given this past week’s events in Texas related to Hurricane Harvey, and as the storm makes its way through the American South this weekend, it is easy to feel helpless if you and your family are not directly impacted. In speaking with genealogy friends and colleagues, I don’t think there is any degree of separation from this disaster: we likely all know at least one person who has lost their home, their business and their possessions.
Besides contributing to various charities, gathering relief supplies and volunteering, here is something you can do for yourself: put together a disaster plan related to your genealogy and family history research.

Download this FREE GUIDE on Disaster Planning by Melissa Barker

Melissa Barker, aka The Archive Lady, knows all too well what can happen to important papers and artifacts as well as data when a disaster hits. Whether it is fire, flood or simply a computer failure, Melissa has created a guide at Legacy Family Tree entitled Disaster Planning for the Genealogist

Through a special arrangement with our friends at Legacy Family Tree, Melissa wants to make sure that every genealogist has access to this important information. That is why Disaster Planning for the Genealogist is available as a FREE DOWNLOAD starting Thursday, August 31st through Sunday, September 3rd, 2017. Click HERE to get your PDF copy now!

Please take a minute not to just download the guide, but please read it and seriously consider what would happen if you lost treasured family heirlooms or research data related to your genealogy. You can at least minimize damage from various disasters, if not prevent such damage all together.

So this weekend as you keep others in Texas in your thoughts and prayers, take a minute to do your homework and put together a disaster plan for your genealogy.


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Preserving Genealogy Records by Preparing for a Disaster

This very week there are many in the United States that are experiencing Hurricane Harvey. This natural disaster has caused enormous damage to homes, businesses, schools and libraries. 



Whenever there is a disaster that destroys, I am reminded of how important it is to preserve our family records so they are not destroyed. We have lost so much in the past due to disasters....

On November 9, 1872, The Great Boston Fire started in a dry-goods warehouse that spread fast in windy weather, destroying nearly 800 buildings. Damage was estimated at more than $75 million dollars. The fire could be seen in the sky as far as 100 miles away.

Ruins after the Great Boston Fire of 1872

Disaster preparedness is something that every archive plans for and reviews on a yearly basis. If archives are preparing their facility and records for a disaster, shouldn't genealogists do the same?

I have long lamented that genealogists are also "home archivists". Most genealogists don't work as archivists but they do have some of the same responsibilities that archivists have, some are:

  • Collect original records
  • Collect original photographs
  • Receiving donated records (from family and distant, new found, cousins)
  • Organizing and preserving records

Would it not be important to preserve these original records and have a disaster plan in place in case the unthinkable happens? It would be difficult to explain an entire disaster plan in this blog post, so here is an example of a Disaster Preparedness Plan from the New York State Archives that you can use as a guide:


This plan describes the steps necessary to anticipate, prevent, plan for, and recover from a disaster affecting records in any format.

Houston County Lions Club Records Donation, Houston County, TN. Archives


Many of the steps in this plan are ones that the genealogist or "home archivist" can implement to protect and preserve original records, photographs and artifacts in their possession. The main idea is to be prepared and keep your records in a state of preparedness in case of a disaster.

None of us know when the next fire, tornado, earthquake or flood may happen to us or our home. But we can prepare and plan ahead to save and preserve our genealogical records.



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



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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Archival Supplies

One question that I get asked all the time as an archivist is "Where can I buy archival supplies to preserve my records?"

I use archival supplies on a daily basis. I order our supplies from various archival supply stores depending on what the need is and the price.

Tools of the Trade, Houston County, TN. Archives


One important aspect of purchasing archival supplies is the fact that they can be pricey. For example, to order a box of archival file folders, the cost is approximately $30.00 for a box of 100. For a  box of non-archival file folders the price is substantially less at office supply stores.

The fact is, it is important to preserve our family documents in archival materials so they do not deteriorate or become damaged.

Lyle Family Records Collection, Houston County, TN. Archives


Many archival supply stores have an online website (see listing below) and you can also sign-up to receive emails when they have sales on their products. These stores even have "Free Shipping" days once or twice a year.

Almost all of these archival supply stores will send you a paper catalog. Some of us have a hard time finding what we are looking for on an online catalog, so why not get a paper catalog! When I get my catalog in the mail, it's like Christmas time and getting the Sears Christmas Wish Book Catalog!

Gaylord Archival 2017 Catalog


Our ancestor's records, photographs, ephemera and artifacts have lasted this long, why not put them in archival materials so they can last even longer!

Online Archival Supply Stores

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

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

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

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

Archival Methods
https://www.archivalmethods.com/



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

*****

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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Genealogy Education

As many of you may know, I am a Certified Archives Manager working as an archivist at the Houston County, Tennessee Archives.



Before I became an archivist I was a very active genealogist and I have been actively researching my family history for the past 27 years.

Not only have I been doing my own genealogy research for the past 27 years but I have been a Professional Genealogist since 2004 helping other genealogists with their research in Tennessee records.

It is very important to me to keep up-to-date on the latest records and research that is coming to the genealogy community. I also love educating myself on aspects of genealogy research in other areas, new (to me) record sources and those record sources that are online or only found in archives. And let's not forget the new kid on the block, DNA!

Lyle Family Records Collection, Houston County, TN. Archives


One question that I get all the time is "Where do you find materials for continuing your genealogy education if you can't travel to hear speakers?".

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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Where are the Moonshine Records?

Yes, you read that title correctly, "Where are the Moonshine Records?"

Working in an archive, in the South, one question I get A LOT is:

"Where are the Moonshine Records?"

Unfortunately, there may not be a set of records in an archive titled "Moonshine Records". But there are records that can be searched that can provide a genealogist with information about their ancestor and the part they played in the moonshine business.

Photo of police car full of moonshine, ca. 1962, Houston County, TN. Archives


Court Records:

Many times our moonshine ancestors got caught! When they were caught distilling moonshine, transporting moonshine or selling moonshine, they ended up in court. Searching local court records is a great place to find our moonshine ancestors. Moonshine was a criminal act and would have been heard in criminal court.

Local Police Records and Mug Shot Photographs:

Many of our local archives have been able to preserve old police records and mug shot records. Finding your moonshine ancestor on a police report detailing the incident would add to your ancestor's story. Finding a mug shot of that ancestor would be priceless! Unfortunately, these types of records are not a prevalent as court records but something to keep in mind when researching your moonshine relatives.

Photo of moonshine still, ca. 1959, Houston County, TN. Archives


Newspapers:

If your ancestor was caught in the act by the police, it could have been big news in a small town! Searching newspapers for stories about the police catching local moonshiners may just be what you need to find your ancestor. Seems the police like to have their pictures taken with that trunk full of gallons of moonshine or with that discovered moonshine still and then it was published in the paper.

Oral Histories:

Many of our local archives have collections of oral histories by local residents. These oral histories usually include the persons recollections of the people, places and events that happened locally. It is quite possible the person who was being interviewed could have mentioned the "local moonshiners" of the area. Oral histories can be found as a typed interview transcript or as an audio or video recording of the person.

Oral histories on DVD, Houston County, TN. Archives


So, the next time you are faced with trying to find "Moonshine Records" for your ancestor, check out the local court records, newspapers, police records and oral histories. These records just might help you document your ancestor's moonshine antics!



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



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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Where Did Your Ancestor's Vote?

For the past few months I have been processing a wonderful collection of records in the Houston County, TN. Archives. They are the Houston County Election and Voting Records Collection.

Houston County Election and Voting Records Collection, in process


This collection of records contains some wonderful information about local, state and national elections and the records that were produced locally in Houston County. These records include voters lists, election results, Election Board Minutes, lists of poll workers, newspaper items and other miscellaneous records.

I had known about election records and the great resource they can be to place our ancestors in a time and place. But going through this collection showed me that it may be possible to also find the location where our ancestors walked in and voted.

Newspaper Clipping Notice of Precincts, ca. 1978, Houston County, TN. Archives


In many states, each county is divided up into districts, precincts or something similar. Each person was required to vote in their designated polling place. This practice is still carried out today during elections. Many times we can only find the district number but if we look a little further we might be able to find out the exact building they walked into and voted.

Maybe your ancestor's polling place was changed, like this newspaper clipping below indicates. Many of the local polling places were churches, schools, the local city hall or other well known buildings in the precinct. In Houston County, TN., one precinct where people voted was at Trotter's Store. This store was a local merchandise store but on election day played a big role.

Newspaper Clipping Notice Of Change of Voting Place, ca. 1982, Houston County, TN. Archives


Many of our wonderful archives have voting and election records. Some are more extensive than others but they all have something to offer. Most of the time, these types of records are processed and housed in the Manuscript Collections. Asking the archivist about these types of records is the best way to find out if they exist.

Voting and Election records are a great resource to find our ancestors and also locating where they voted.


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


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Monday, July 24, 2017

Using Archives to Fill the Gaps in Your Ancestor's Timeline

Using Archives to Fill the Gaps in Your Ancestor's Timeline

Do you have gaps in your ancestor's timeline? Are you curious about what your ancestor's did in-between the time the census was taken? You might just find what your looking for in the many records collections of an archive.

Lyle Family Records Collection, Houston County ,TN. Archives


Working daily in an archive, I get to work with many kinds of records that are not your "normal" genealogical records. A lot of these unique records are not online and have to be sought out by the genealogist. Records in archives can help you fill in the gaps in your ancestor's timeline.



As a genealogists for the past 27 years, I have been working diligently on my own family history and that of my husbands. Recently, I was able to combine both archives work and genealogy research all in one with a fantastic result.

The Stewart County, Tennessee Archives is just one of our wonderful archives here in Tennessee and the area where my husband's family lived back in the 1800's. I recently became aware of a packet of records that had been found in the Stewart County, Tennessee Archives for a Jesse Glasgow (1816-1892), my husband's great great grandfather. I requested copies of these original records that included over 50 pages of documents and receipts that have never been microfilmed and are not online anywhere.

Inside the Stewart County, Tennessee Archives. Photo courtesy Stewart County, Tennessee Archives

One of the documents that was sent to me was a copy of a receipt for a Louisiana Lottery Ticket that Jesse Glasgow had purchased in June 1888. Jesse bought 1 ticket and the ticket number was #92074.


Courtesy Stewart County, Tennessee Archives, Jesse Glasgow Louisiana Lottery Ticket Notification, June 9, 1888

I found it interesting that Jesse Glasgow was buying a lottery ticket from Louisiana while living in Tennessee. And I didn't even know there was a lottery in the 1800's. So I did some research and found that the Louisiana Lottery was a very controversial event in the history of the State of Louisiana. You can read about the Louisiana Lottery here: http://www.nola.com/175years/index.ssf/2011/09/1888_the_louisiana_lottery_was.html

It is not known if Jesse Glasgow won anything from the Louisiana Lottery but the fact that he bought a ticket and I have a copy of the receipt from the Stewart County, Tennessee Archives helps me to document an event in his life that happened between the 1880 and 1900 census records. I had nothing recorded for Jesse between these census years and now I do because of a county archive with records that they have archived and preserved.

Courtesy "The Times-Picayune" Newspaper Photographs, an example of a Louisiana State Lottery Ticket, May 8, 1888


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


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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

NEW! Webinars from The Archive Lady!

Legacy Family Tree is celebrating a Summer Spectacular! Releasing brand new webinars series every two weeks!

The first series is the "Archives Series" by ME, The Archive Lady!

The 4 NEW webinars in the series are:

Family Gatherings: Dragging Genealogy Information Out of Your Family
http://legacy.familytreewebinars.com/?aid=2536 

Family gatherings are the ideal place to collect genealogical information. Sometimes it is difficult to get your family members to give up the knowledge they have because they are just not interested. This webinar will give you handy tips and tricks to get your family members talking and sharing the information they have and they won't even know they are doing it!




Disaster Planning for the Genealogist, Safeguarding Your Genealogical Records
http://legacy.familytreewebinars.com/?aid=2534 

Natural disasters and man-made disasters happen all the time. Are your genealogical records stored and archived in such a way that they will survive through a disaster? Learn from an archivist how to come up with your own disaster plan and safeguard your genealogical records from destruction.




Scrap Paper and Orphan Documents in the Archives
http://legacy.familytreewebinars.com/?aid=2537 

Many of our archives have scrap paper and orphan documents that are discovered on a daily basis that don't belong to any particular records collection. In this webinar find out what archives do with these records and how you as a genealogists can discover these pieces of scrap paper and orphan documents in archive to help with your own family research.




Using Archives to Fill the Gaps in Your Ancestor's Timeline
http://legacy.familytreewebinars.com/?aid=2538 

Do you have gaps of missing information in your ancestor's timeline? Using archives and the records they hold can fill in those gaps. Learn about unique records that are found in archives that will help to tell your ancestor's story and add information to your ancestor's timeline.




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


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