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A Genealogist In The Archives

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Archival File Folders: A Must for the Genealogist

Recently, I was asked "Do you really need to use archival file folders, can't you just use regular file folders?".

Actually, I get this question all the time and I love answering it!

I work in an archive everyday at the Houston County, TN. Archives. We use tons of archival file folders when we are processing records collections. They are a staple archival material for our archives and should be a staple for every genealogist.

File of Records, Houston County, TN. Archives


You have been entrusted with your family documents, photographs and ephemera.

Think of all the people that came before you that had these records and have passed them down in the family and now they are your responsibility.

Placing our most precious family records in archival file folders is important for the preservation of those records.

Archival file folders are a great records preservation tool to house original records safely so they are not damaged. Regular file folders that are not archival contain acidic chemicals that will eventually damage your records.

Correspondence Records, Houston County, TN. Archives


Archival filed folders come in different sizes to accommodate the different sizes of documents in our collections. The most frequently used sizes are letter size and legal size.

Link: http://amzn.to/2BFQgGH

Example of 1" tab on archival file folder


It is also important to get archival file folders that have a large tab for writing information about the documents inside the folder. I generally recommend genealogists get the archival file folders that have the 1-inch tab which provides ample room for writing dates and descriptions of what is in the folder.

Options of how to file the folders is entirely up to you. Using archival boxes, such as a Hollinger box (shown below), adds an additional layer of protection for your records. Putting the folders in filing cabinets is not ideal but is quite acceptable.

Link: http://amzn.to/2BDt7V3

Example of Hollinger Box

So, why use archival file folders? Because we want to preserve our family records so they survive for future generations to enjoy!


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


*******

Legacy Quick Guide

Scrapbooks: A Genealogist's Gold Mine

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



Wednesday, July 25, 2018

There's An Archival Box for That!

Let's face it, many of the items we as genealogists have in our family history collections are unique and even odd shaped. These are usually called family artifacts or family heirlooms. These items help to tell our ancestor's story and also help to remind us of our family members that are no longer with us.

Trying to archive or preserve these items can be a challenge but with the right box it can be done!

These items are those 3-dimensional items that we might display on a shelf or bring out at family gatherings to show to our family members.

They are a point of contact with our ancestors and they have true family history meaning to us and are items we cherish.

Just like our paper documents, our family artifacts should be preserved and stored correctly so that they survive for future generations to enjoy.

Do you have your Grandfather's bowler hat? There's an archival box for that! Check out this hat box:  http://amzn.to/2kpngvf

Archival Hat Box from Gaylord Archival


Do you have an American flag that was draped over your ancestor's casket during a military funeral service? There is a wonderful archival box just for American flags: https://bit.ly/2NFW5pl

Clamshell Flag Box from Gaylord Archival


Do you have your Grandmother's favorite doll? Or maybe your favorite doll from when you were young? There is a perfect archival box for dolls: http://amzn.to/2koBfRV

Doll Preservation Box from Gaylord Archival


Do you have Christmas ornaments that are special and you consider family heirlooms? There is a great archival box available to keep them safe when they are stored: http://amzn.to/2nARL2i

Christmas Decorations Box from Gaylord Archival


And there is even an archival box to store Christmas wreaths: http://amzn.to/2koDaG7



One of the best ways to find these wonderful and unique archival boxes is to search the archival store catalogs. I always encourage genealogists to order a FREE paper catalog and have it delivered to your home so that you can sit down and easily look at all the wonderful archival boxes that are available.


Here is a listing of several archival stores that will send out FREE paper catalogs:

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/



Our family artifacts and heirlooms are very important and mean so much to us. Make sure they are being preserved in the right archival box!


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


*******

Get My Legacy Quick Guide

Preserving Old Family Letters: Tips from an Archivist

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

Friday, July 20, 2018

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!


*******

Get My Legacy QuickGuide

Researching in Libraries and Archives

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


Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Vertical files vs Manuscript Collections: What's the Difference?

Working in a county archive on a daily basis, I am surrounded by original records, photographs and ephemera. It is my job to organize the records we have in the Houston County, Tennessee Archives so that they are accessible to the pubic and that includes many of the wonderful genealogists that come through my door everyday.

Houston County, Tennessee Entrance

In my opinion, Vertical Files and Manuscript Collections are two of the most underused and misunderstood record collections that a genealogist has at their disposal. A lot of genealogists don't even know to ask about these specific collections when they are doing research at an archive. One of the reasons for the "mystery" surrounding these record sources is these records are not sitting on shelves in the research area for the researchers to access themselves. These record sources are usually stored in back rooms or vaults and they have to be requested to be seen. Normally, genealogists have to request files be pulled from the Vertical Files Collection and boxes to be pulled from the Manuscript Collections and brought to them in the research room. Genealogists need to know that archivist are there to help them. They stand at the ready to pull records that you request and they are ready to share the fantastic records found in Vertical Files and Manuscript Collections.

Vertical Files Cabinets, Houston County, TN. Archives

Vertical Files are a "hodgepodge" of all different kinds of documents, newspaper clippings, ephemera and memorabilia. These items are normally donated to the archive by patrons piece by piece or they could have been found in a box of "stuff" that was donated to the archives. The archives staff then files the items by either Surname or by Subject. For instance, if there is a newspaper clipping of an obituary for John Brown, it would go in the BROWN file in the Vertical Files Collection. If someone donated a letterhead document from the WISEMAN FUNERAL HOME, that document would be filed in the WISEMAN FUNERAL HOME file. The archivist should have an index available for the researcher to consult to see if there are any surnames or subjects that are of interest to them and then they can request that those files be pulled and brought to them for researching.

The "A-B" Drawer in Vertical Files Collection, Houston County, TN. Archive

Manuscript Collections are a completely different type of record source but one that I believe is essential and should be on every genealogists "To-Do List".

One of the best ways to explain what Manuscript Collections are is to use this visual:

I have been doing my personal genealogy research for my family and my husband's family for the past 26 years. Let's say I have decided that I want to donate everything I have collected to my local archive. This includes all documents, photographs, ephemera, notes and artifacts. I box everything up in cardboard boxes, load them in my car, drive them to the archive and drop them off. Now, the archive will take all those boxes and will give it a collection name like "The Melissa Barker Records Collection" or possibly "The Melissa Barker Genealogical Papers". Then the archivist will organize the records by type, style and date. The records will be organized into file folders and each file folder is given a number like Folder #1. Then all these folders are places in boxes and these boxes are given a number like Box #3. Most importantly a "Finding Aid" is produced to go with the Manuscript Collection. Vertical Files do not have Finding Aids! The Finding Aid is a written guide explaining what is contained in the manuscript collection and includes a box-by-box and folder-by-folder listing of what the boxes and folders have in them. Now the collection is ready for researchers!

The Irish Celebration Manuscript Collection, Houston County, TN. Archives

I truly hope that all genealogists will start asking about Vertical Files and Manuscript Collections in our many wonderful archives. They are just sitting there waiting for genealogists to discover their contents. Just because you can't see them on the shelves in the research area doesn't mean they don't exist. Ask the archivist about Vertical Files and Manuscript Collections on your next research trip!


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

*********

Want to know more about Vertical Files?

Watch My Legacy Family Tree Webinar:

Vertical Files: What Are They and How To Use Them

Link: http://legacy.familytreewebinars.com/?aid=1167


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!


*******

 

Scrapbooks! Do You Know How to Archive Them?   

Get My Legacy Family Tree Webinar and Learn How!

 

"Scrapbooks: A Genealogists Gold Mine"

http://legacy.familytreewebinars.com/?aid=1161 

 

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!

*******

Need Help Preserving Those Old Family Letters?

Get My Legacy QuickGuide!

Preserving Old Family Letters: Tips from an Archivist

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


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!!

****

Get My Legacy Family Tree Webinar

Vertical Files: What Are They and How To Use Them

http://legacy.familytreewebinars.com/?aid=1167