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A Genealogist In The Archives: Museums Have Archived Records Too!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Museums Have Archived Records Too!

Museum Week!

June 19-25, 2017 is National Museum Week, a time to recognize our wonderful museums and the part they play in our culture and preserving our historical artifacts and records.

A little unknown fact in the archive and genealogy world is museums have archived records too! Yes, that's right! Museums aren't just for artifacts and historical objects that patrons walk through and admire and then leave. 

I like to say that most museums have a "front room" and a "back room". The front room is filled with displays and exhibits. There could be multiple rooms filled with artifacts on display in glass cases for the visitor to enjoy.

What genealogists don't know is that many of our wonderful museums have "back rooms" full of historical and genealogical documents. 

For instance, at the Lincoln Memorial University Museum in Harrogate, Tennessee (, they have the second largest collection of Abraham Lincoln artifacts and memorabilia in the United States in their museum. They also have a back room filled with historical and genealogical records. 

Here is a short video from the PBS program Tennessee Crossroads about the museum which shows the records room. (  

Lincoln Memorial University Museum in Harrogate, Tennessee

Locating museums in the area where your ancestor lived can be done by talking to the local librarian, local archivist or the local Chamber of Commerce. Once you have located the museum, contact them by phone or email and ask them about their archived records. 

Another option is to check out the website ArchiveGrid ( This is a fantastic genealogical and archival resource that should be utilized by every genealogist. Thousands of libraries, archives and museums have put information about their records on ArchiveGrid. One example is the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum-Frist Library and Archive. There are over 600 pages of record content for this one museum alone on ArchiveGrid.

So, the next time you travel to where your ancestors came from, check and see if there is a museum. If there is one, stop by and ask if they have a "back room" with archived records. You just might be pleasantly surprised.



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  1. The best place in museums is the archives! I always ask to see them.

    1. Lisa, you know what to do! Thanks for reading my blog!

  2. Melissa, I've nominated you for the Blogger Recognition Award. Tips from an archivist was a niche that was missing and you are doing a great job filling it.