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A Genealogist In The Archives: June 2019

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Preserving Our Ancestor's Textiles

Some of the most interesting items we have in our own family genealogy collections as well as in archives are items made of some sort of fabric. Things such as a christening gowns, quilts, high school sweaters and doilies are just a few of the items some of us have as part of our family archive.

Preserving and storing these items can be a challenge and if not done properly could result in the destruction of these precious heirlooms.

        Hand embroidered and laced handkerchief. Located at the Houston County, TN. Archives

For most fabric items you will need archival tissue paper and the correct size archival box for storage. First, put a layer of tissue paper in the bottom of the box. Then put your fabric item on the tissue paper. If the item is large, such as a quilt or a piece of clothing, it is okay to fold it but put layers of tissue paper between the folds making sure that none of the fabric touches itself.  I also like to put extra tissue paper as a "filler" in the box so that the item doesn't move around in the box. Just ball the tissue paper up and put it around the item and that will keep it still in the box. Then place the box in a dark, cool and dry storage place. With fabric items I like to take the archival box and place it in another box such as a plastic tote which can be sealed, this is to deter moths and insects which can destroy fabrics.

Be sure to put documentation in the box to explain in detail all pertinent information about the item.  If it was handmade, include the name of the person who made it. Also, if applicable, include the "chain of ownership" of the item and how it has been passed down in the family and which ancestors owned it before it was passed down to you. The more information you include in your description, the better!

             Handmade christening gown. Located in the Houston County, Tennessee Archives

Finding fabric items in an archives can be a challenge but they do exist in collections housed in many of the our wonderful repositories. Most items of this kind will be found in families records collections which are normally part of the archives larger Manuscript Collection or Special Collections. When family records have been donated to an archive, the collection could include fabric items and they would be processed right along with the documents and should be listed in the finding aid.

Another way a fabric item could be cataloged in an archive is in a group collection such as a "Quilt Collection" which could include many quilts by different makers and are housed in one collection. Or maybe these items are cataloged in a local high school collection, such as the letterman sweater in the photo below.

         Letterman sweater from Erin High School. Located in the Houston County, TN. Archives

As genealogists we are always searching for that next important document to help tell our ancestor's story.  Don't forget our ancestors are also trying to tell us their story through things that they made, things that they wore and things that they used on a daily basis. The story behind a handmade quilt can be just as interesting as the story behind a document.

Preserving the fabric of our ancestors and the stories that go with them should be part of every genealogists journey to document our families.



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Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Researching Your Ancestor's Vacations

Summer Vacation!

I just got back from my Summer Vacation and I know a lot of you will be taking yours in the coming months. Have you ever thought about your ancestors and the vacations they took? Are you researching this aspect of your family history? You Should Be!

Many of our ancestors made annual treks to vacation spots across the globe. Maybe they went to a National Park, a favorite camp ground or even to another country. As genealogists we should be researching, documenting and telling the stories of our ancestor's vacations. Many of our families got together during the Summer months for the annual family reunion. Researching our ancestor's vacations should be on our genealogy to-do list!

When I received old photographs that belonged to my Grandmother Ida Kathryn (Drummond) Bartram I found some true gems of my Grandfather and her husband Forrest Cecil Bartram. They were taken during the family vacation to Rice Lake in Ontario, Canada. The whole family would travel from Ellet, Summit County, Ohio to this particular vacation spot year after year. Their daughter, my Mom, Marjorie Ann (Bartram) LeMaster talked about the family vacations at Rice Lake and how much the entire family enjoyed going there year after year. I have documented this vacation spot in my family tree database by adding photos, maps and references to the vacation spot.

Forrest Cecil Bartram, Vacationing at Rice Lake, Canada

Researching your ancestor's vacations can be fun, educational and most importantly help to tell more of our ancestor's life story. Even if your ancestor was poor or you can't imagine they had money to take a vacation, maybe they just took time to visit family, attend that family reunion or better yet go on a honeymoon!

Another ancestor that I researched their vacation was my Great-Great Grandmother, Ida Issadore (Boughner) (Debolt) Ladd. In this case, Ida had married for the second time after the passing of her first husband John T. Debolt. She married John Talbert Renow Ladd and for their honeymoon vacation, they traveled from Salpulpa, Creek County, Oklahoma to Put-in-Bay, Ohio which is a village on South Bass Island in Lake Erie. They even sent a post card to Ida's daughter and son-in-law Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Arn. I find their expression on this picture postcard quite funny, especially with the postcard reading "I am on the wings of Love". Really?? Put-in-Bay is still a vacation destination today!

Postcard from Mr. and Mrs. J.T.R. Ladd to Mr. and Mrs. Joe Arn, ca. 1925

If you are looking to your own vacation, why not plan it around a historic place that your ancestor was known to have been. Many of our ancestors were involved with the Civil War and maybe even fought at a particular battle. Maybe visiting that battlefield will give you a new perspective on your ancestor and the time they spent there. Both my husband's great-great-grandfather Andrew Jackson Barker and my great-great grandfather Oliver Coonrod fought at the battle of Fort Donelson. One for the Confederacy and the other for the Union. Visiting this battlefield has given me a new perspective of our ancestors time there that looking at and reading records can't give me.

Battle of Fort Donelson, cannon batteries on the Cumberland River, Stewart County, Tennessee

Documenting our ancestors vacations and also those places that we know they were during their lives will give us more of their life story. So, while you are vacationing this Summer, think about your ancestors and their vacations and start researching!

Until next time....Remember...It's Not All Online, Contact or Visit an Archive Today!


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