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A Genealogist In The Archives

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Genealogists are Home Archivists!


"31 Days of Tips from The Archive Lady"

DAY #31

Genealogists are Home Archivists!


Today is the last day of "31 Days of Tips from The Archive Lady". It has been so much fun sharing tips about researching in archives and preserving family records. I hope what I have shared has helped many of you advance in your genealogy research and now have the knowledge of how to take care of your precious family documents and heirlooms.

On this last day of October 2018, the last day of American Archives Month, I want you to know that as genealogists with original records, photographs and artifacts, You Are The Home Archivist! You are the keeper of the family history and I applaud each and every one of you that has taken on this responsibility.

Bartram Family Bible and Items Found Inside, Owned by Melissa Barker


I also want to remind you there are thousands of archives, historical societies, genealogical societies, university archives and museums are out there and they hold millions of records that are NOT ONLINE. I completely understand that it can be a hardship for many of us to travel to these places to do research. Keep in mind that calling and emailing are very viable tools to use in communicating with these facilities.

My tip for you today is to think outside the box as you are doing your genealogy research. Remember all the unique records I have shared with you over this last month that are not online. Communicate with local archives about your genealogy research. Talk to the archivists about the records they hold in their archives. Ask them about Manuscript Collections, Vertical Files, Loose Records and all the records they have that are not online. Most archivists are ready and willing to be a help to you!

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


Even though this series of posts will come to an end as of today, that is not the end of the advice, tips and guidance I hope to continue bring to you. I will continue to blog about wonderful records that are held not only in the Houston County, TN. Archives but in archives all across the United States. I will also continue to blog about records preservation and how to make sure all of us preserve our family records so that future generations can enjoy them.

And best of all, I want to hear from you! If you have questions about how to find records, how to preserve any of your family records, photographs and artifacts, I want you to drop me an email. I love hearing from my readers and helping them anyway I can. Please email me at: melissabarker20@hotmail.com



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



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

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Tuesday, October 30, 2018


"31 Days of Tips from The Archive Lady"

DAY #30

Archives Have Books!


When you think of an archive, maybe you think of original documents, vertical files and manuscript collections. But do you think of genealogical or historical books being in archives? You should!

Many of our wonderful archives have a section of historical and genealogical books. These books can be located in the research area where the researcher can access them easily and research in them. Yet some archives keep their books in back rooms on shelves and require the researcher make a request to see them.

Houston County, Tennessee Pictorial History Book, Located in Houston County, TN. Archives


These collection of books could include just about anything. They could include local histories of the area and all the different communities. They could include donated published family histories of various surnames. There could even be pictorial history books of the local area and the surrounding areas.

In order to access these books or an index of what is available, ask the archivist. Many records collections, books and other items are stored in back rooms or vaults and asking the archivist about what is available is a must for every genealogist. Archivists are there to help you!

Books on families are donated to archives all the time. Many genealogists have done the research, compiled the genealogies and then published a book. It is possible the local archive could have a copy of that family book.

The Adams Family Kith and Kin, Located in the Houston County, TN. Archives


Books about local communities is also a popular book found in an archive. These could be a published book on a small area of a county that was once a booming area but today is just a spot in the road. These types of books could have history about the families that lived in the area or founded the area.

Danville, Tennessee: Gone....But Not Forgotten, Located in Houston County, TN. Archives


Libraries are not the only repository that could have published books for your family, the local community or the local area in general. Archives have these types of books too!

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

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Are you intimidated about visiting archives? Maybe you get overwhelmed when you walk through the door?

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Researching in Libraries and Archives



Monday, October 29, 2018


"31 Days of Tips from The Archive Lady"

DAY #29

Oral Histories in the Archives

Oral histories are a great resource for the genealogist. Many local and state archives have oral histories in their collections. Seeking out oral histories is something every genealogist should have on their "To-Do List".

Oral History Program, Battleship New Jersey Museum & Memorial


Oral histories usually consist of voice recordings of people who are telling their life story or recounting their personal experience during a particular event. Oral histories could also be found in printed transcribed interviews. Maybe the person recounted their story to someone and then their story was typed up like a transcribed conversation or Q & A.

In the Houston County, TN. Archives we have oral histories of surviving WWII Veterans on video that were compiled in the 1990's. Sadly, many of these Veterans are now passed on but we have their voices and images on video as they recount their service during the war. These same oral history videos have also been transcribed and available in written format.

Houston County, TN. Archives Entrance


Many oral histories are of local residents telling about their experiences growing up in the area or recounting their personal experiences during The Great Flood, The Big Tornado or The Historic Hurricane. Natural disasters affected our ancestors as they affect us today and some of these stories have been captured on video, audio or in written transcripts.

Newspaper Clipping of Powell's Store During the Flood of 1968, Houston County, TN. Archives


Oral histories are not normally available on the shelves in the research area of an archive. The researcher will have to ask the archivist if they have oral histories. The archivist should be able to supply the researcher with an index of what is available. Once you find what interests you in the index, ask the archivist to bring you the record source. If it is video or audio, the archives should have the specific machine needed to play the recording. If the oral history is in written format, they should bring you the transcription. 

Sadly, there are not a tremendous amount of oral histories available. So, try not to be too disappointed if there isn't one for your ancestor. It is still a good idea to listen to or read oral histories by others in the community that experienced the same events during the same time period that your ancestor did. That way you can get a sense of what your ancestor saw, heard or experienced themselves.

So, add Oral Histories to the "To-Do List" and be sure to ask the archivist about them on the next research trip or contact with the archive.




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


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Statistics say that there are only about 10% of all genealogical records online, the rest are sitting on shelves at the local archive waiting for the genealogist to discover them!

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It's Not All Online, Researching in Archives







Sunday, October 28, 2018

Preserving an Old Black Paper Photo Album


"31 Days of Tips from The Archive Lady"

DAY #28

Preserving an Old Black Paper Photo Album


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!!

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Saturday, October 27, 2018

Archival File Folders: A Must for the Genealogist


"31 Days of Tips from The Archive Lady"

DAY #27

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.

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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.

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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!


*******

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Scrapbooks: A Genealogist's Gold Mine

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Friday, October 26, 2018

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


"31 Days of Tips from The Archive Lady"

DAY #26

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

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Thursday, October 25, 2018

Unusual Archival Boxes for Unique Genealogy Items

"31 Days of Tips from The Archive Lady"

DAY #25

Unusual Archival Boxes for Unique Genealogy Items



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 a 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 the military funeral service? There is a wonderful box just for American flags: http://www.gaylord.com/Preservation/Textile-Preservation/Storage-Boxes/Gaylord-Archival%26%23174%3B-E-flute-Clamshell-Flag-Box/p/HYB02302:

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 great box for dolls http://amzn.to/2koBfRV:

Doll Preservation Box from Gaylord Archival


 With Christmas almost upon us, are you looking for archival boxes to store your family treasured Christmas ornaments? Check out this box http://amzn.to/2nARL2i:

Christmas Decorations Box from Gaylord Archival


And there is even a 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 stores 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!


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


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Preserving Old Family Letters: Tips from an Archivist

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