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A Genealogist In The Archives: December 2018

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Preserving Christmas and Other Greeting Cards

Christmas 2018 is over! It's time to get back to genealogy and finding those ancestors.

But wait....

Did you get Christmas cards sent to you this season? What are you going to do with them?

I have a confession to make, I have kept every single Christmas card that I have ever received. Yes, I know, I have a problem. Maybe you have a stack of Christmas cards from this Christmas and from Christmases past. Maybe you also keep other greeting cards from Birthdays, Valentine's Day, etc.

Christmas Card, Houston County, TN. Archives

Most importantly, if you have old greeting cards that are in your genealogical record collections, are you preserving them properly?

If you are like me and have kept greeting cards from various events, holidays and special occasions and you intend on keeping them, it is important that they are preserved just like the other documents in your collection.

Preserving greeting cards is very easy, it's really a matter of obtaining the right materials and being consistent in the archiving process.

Archival Materials You Will Need and can be purchased at any online archival materials store:

-Archival plastic sleeves in the size that fits the greeting card

-Archival Box, like this one from Gaylord Archival

Before the preservation process can take place, it is important to document each greeting card and digitize it. Placing a note in your family genealogy software that says something like "Christmas 2016, received Christmas card from Aunt Marie, she signed the card". If the person put a note in the card, you might want to transcribe that into the notes field as well. Also, make notes about the senders mailing address too.

Easter Card, Houston County, TN. Archives

Digitizing greeting cards can be very tedious and time consuming. However, if you want to insure that these records are preserved in case of a disaster that destroys the cards, this is what needs to be done.

I normally scan the entire card; the front, inside and back. I place those scans in the computer file of the ancestor who sent me the card in a separate folder entitled "Greeting Cards".

I also take a soft #2 pencil and on the back of the card I write the year I received the card. Hopefully, the card's subject will tell what the occasion was but if not, you might want to make a note of the occasion.

Take the greeting card and put it in an archival plastic sleeve that is the right size for the card. The archival supply stores have all kinds of sizes to choose from.

Next, put the cards in the Hollinger box. I normally organize the greeting cards by surname and then within that surname I put the cards in date order by year.

Hollinger Box

If you have a lot of greeting cards, like I do, you might want to dedicate a Hollinger box to one surname.

The process is quite simple and gets the greeting cards in order so that they can be enjoyed and if you are looking for a certain card, they are easy to find.

Online Archival Supply Stores:

Gaylord Archival

Hollinger Metal Edge

University Products

Light Impressions


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Tuesday, December 18, 2018

A Genealogy Gift Idea "My Family History Kit"

(Disclaimer: I received a complimentary kit for this review. I do not receive any affiliate income from Gaylord Archival.)

From time to time I am privileged to be asked to try out new products from Gaylord Archival. As an archivist and genealogist, I am always on the look out for new archival products to use in the archives where I work and for preserving my own family records.

This time it is the "My Family History Kit".

According to Gaylord Archival, the purpose of this kit is to "help you answer questions and create a family history you can pass down through the generations".

The kit itself comes in an archival document case like this one:

Included in the kit are the following items:

-5 long side opening buffered 8" x 10" envelopes
-10 edge seal, 3 mil archival polyester 8 1/2" x 11" sleeves
-10 letter-size cream colored archival file folders with 1" full tab
-1 pair disposable white cotton gloves for handling photos and delicate items
-1 black All-Stabilo marking pencil
-1 self-adhesive label holder with insert for box exterior
-20 PermaPlus labels (1" x 3") for folders, envelopes and sleeves
-15-generation pedigree chart
-Instructional brochure

The 15-generation pedigree chart is a large poster sized chart and is very easy to follow when adding the names and information of each generation.Once the chart is filled in, it could even be framed for display. I have seen many family tree charts in my 28 years of genealogy research and this one is very easy to follow adding family information for each generation.

The archival file folders and sleeves included in the kit will help to preserve and protect important family documents and photographs. Remember to use the white cotton gloves included in the kit when you are handling photographs. The dirt and oils on our hands can damage photographs over time and using gloves can protect our precious photographs.

There is also a handy black All-Stablio Marking Pencil that is archival and safe to use when writing on your genealogical documents and identifying family members in old photographs.

One of my favorite parts of the kit is the "Interview Questions" that Gaylord Archival has included on the back of the "Instructional Brochure". There are "50 questions from to get family members talking about their past."

I can highly recommend the Gaylord Archival's "My Family History Kit" for not only the beginning genealogist and home archivist but the seasoned genealogist who is just getting started with records preservation.

So, head over to Gaylord Archival and order a kit for yourself or your favorite genealogist/home archivist today!


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Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Where Are the Genealogy Records?

In November, the Houston County, TN. Archives celebrated it's 8th year of being an established county archives. On November 15, 2010 the Houston County Legislative Body voted to establish a county archive to manage the county government records and to preserve local historical and genealogical records. I still strive today to do the job entrusted to me as the county archivist/records manager and I love my job!

Houston County Highway Department Records, Houston County, TN. Archives

Each year that passes I am amazed all over again by how genealogical and historical records make their way to the archives. Most of the time these records are transferred from local county government offices to the archives for records management or for records preservation. In October 2011, the Houston County, TN. Highway Department was at the beginning stages of building a new facility and was looking to clean out the loft area of their old building where old records had been stored for many decades.

They called me, the county archivist and records manager, to come over to the facility and see what they had. I must say that I love this part of my job! I love digging around in storage buildings, old office buildings, portable school storage buildings and yes the loft area of the highway department!

Houston County Highway Department Loft, Houston County, TN. Archives

This time, however, it was not safe for me to get up into the loft to see what records were being stored. So, the highway department started up their fork lift and it did the work for me. The fork lift, along with help from a few highway department employees, lifted all the boxes of records from the loft area and brought them down to the ground level so that I could assess just what was in those boxes.

Houston County Highway Department Fork Lift, Houston County, TN. Archives

I am proud to say that I had help with this particular project. Members of the Archives Committee joined me at the Highway Department on that day and volunteered their time to go through these records. We had such a great time seeing what wonderful county records we might uncover in these boxes and totes. This type of work never gets old for me!

Archives Committee Volunteers, Houston County, TN. Archives 

At the end of the day, we had been able to sift through all the boxes of records. We first set aside those records that were of no genealogical or historical value and were designated by the Tennessee Code Annotated rules and regulations to be destroyed. This left the "good stuff" as I like to call it, those records that have local historical significance and also genealogical value. These records were transferred to the Archives Office and have been processed and are ready for researchers!

Houston County Highway Department Records, Houston County, TN. Archives

When I am speaking or teaching genealogy researchers, I always tell them to ask themselves the question "Where are the Genealogical Records?" When we ask this question and start looking for the answer, we find ourselves looking in places we would never have thought to find such records. Like the loft area of the local Highway Department.

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


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