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A Genealogist In The Archives

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Genealogy, Archives and Handwritten Letters

On September 5, 2016, I received an email here in the Houston County (TN) Archives that I am very excited about. The person who sent the email is a genealogist who had been doing research on her ancestors and she came into possession of a wonderful, handwritten letter.

This letter was not found in an archive, at a library or at any records repository. This letter was found in another genealogists personal records collection. Because the letter deals with the Danville School that was once in Houston County, Tennessee, the genealogist thought that I would like a copy of the letter to add to our collection of Danville School Records here in the archives. We do not have very much in the way of records for this particular school, so I was very happy to get a copy of this letter. She was gracious enough to send me very good scans of the 3-page letter that is about her Great Grand Uncle Professor T.B. Loggins.

Danville School Letter, ca. 1887, pg. 1, Houston County, TN. Archives

The letter is dated November 7, 1887. Houston County was formed in 1871 and the Danville School was one of the first schools established in the western part of the county. Part of the letter states: Prof. R.B. Loggins, who has been connected with the schools of our district for some time past, as principal has in the exercise of his judgement, as to what is best to promote his own interests, severed his connection with said schools and where as we, the directors of said district, desire to give some expression to our high appreciation of his worth as a teacher and gentleman.

The letter continues on with a recommendation "To Whom it May Concern" for Prof. R.B. Loggins in his next employment. The letter is signed by W.F. Grafield, Secretary and A.(Archibald) Cathey, President.

Danville School Letter, ca. 1887, pg. 2, Houston County, TN. Archives

Old handwritten letters are an extinct form of communication. With the invention of email and then social media communcations, almost no one sits down and writes letters anymore. Preserving old letters is so very important whether they are in the collections of family genealogists or are housed in a local archive.

I would also like to say that sharing your genealogy records with local archives, libraries, historical societies and genealogical societies is also important. Just like this letter that I received adds to our history of the Danville School. You may have documents or letters that gives historical information about communities, schools, businesses or local events. Sharing these documents with the local archives helps us to save our history and tell the story of our community.

Danville School Letter, ca. 1887, pg. 3, Houston County, TN. Archives

I would encourage you to make copies of those records and photographs that would be important to the history of a community and find a local archive to share them. You may be the only person that has that original document that has information that should be preserved in a local archive.

Many local archives will accept copies of documents or scans of documents so you wouldn't have to give them the original records. However, when and if you decide to donate your records, please contact the archive and ask them about their records donation policies.


"Preserving Old Family Letters: Tips from an Archivist"

Do you have old family letters in boxes, wrapped with rubberbands or stuffed in closets? Preserving your old family letters is an important step in archiving your records for future generations!

Get my new Legacy Family Tree Webinar "Preserving Old Family Letters: Tips from an Archivist" to help you with preserving your old family letters.