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A Genealogist In The Archives: December 2019

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Finding Records Where They Don't Belong

Ever wonder how some records get into some archives?

Are you looking for records for you ancestors that are possibly being housed in places that they seemingly don't belong?

As an archivist, I know full well that many of our archives have records in them that don't belong but thankfully they are being preserved.

Loose Records, Houston County, TN. Archives

For instance, in a recent announcement by the University of Arkansas, they revealed they had received a donation of the New York Post newspaper's photo archive.

Examples of Photographs from the New York Post

WAIT! What? The New York Post photo archive is being housed in Arkansas? Yep, you read that right!

How did that happen?!!

According to this article...

The collection was donated in 2017 by an anonymous donor. While it's not typically something you'd find at the University of Arkansas, Dennis T. Clark, dean of libraries, said it "we are fortunate to have this opportunity".

I know in my own case, as the archivist for the Houston County, Tennessee Archives, I have accepted a collection of genealogy research for surnames that have nothing to do with our area because they were going to be thrown away. Two sisters came to the archives with their mother's 50 years worth of genealogy research and told me "If you don't want it, we are just going to throw it away". Well, I couldn't let those records walk back out the archives door, so I accepted them. Our plan is to archive them and make them available to the public, this way they are being saved and preserved.

Genealogy Research Notebooks, Houston County, TN. Archives

So, how does someone find records where they don't belong? This is where the internet can be very helpful. Many of these types of records are housed in state archives, university archives and local county archives. Looking at the websites of these archives and specifically at their indexes, catalogs and digitized collections might help you locate records where they don't belong.

Other websites that could be of help are the following:

Internet Archive

Archive Grid

Searching these websites for surnames or locations might help you locate archived collections that are in archives where you wouldn't think they would be located.

So, the next time you think you have searched everywhere for your ancestors records, try looking in places where the records shouldn't be!

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


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Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Finding Christmas in the Archives

We are now only 2 weeks away from Christmas 2019! Many of us are scrambling to get the grocery shopping done, present shopping completed and completing and mailing out those Christmas cards.

Vintage Postcard

As I work here in the archives, I am reminded of the Christmas items I run across as I process records. The records that are donated to an archive can literally encompass anything and it makes me smile when I am processing a records collection and come across a piece of Christmas cheer!

So, how do you find Christmas in the Archives? Here are some examples:

Local Store Advertisements: Many local stores advertise their Christmas sales and offerings. They will also produce special brochures and advertisements at Christmas time to entice the local shoppers to come into their stores. These types of ephemera, as it is usually called, can be located in the Vertical Files Collection of an archives or in the Manuscript Collection.

Mitchum Drug Co. Advertisement, Houston County, TN. Archives

Scrapbooks: Many archives have scrapbooks as part of their records collections. These scrapbooks are personally put together by an individual and could contain any number of documents, photographs and ephemera. In a few of the scrapbooks we have here in the Houston County, Tennessee Archives, there are Christmas cards and postcards. Seeing the vintage cards really puts you in the Christmas Spirit!

Christmas Postcard from Evelyn Ellis Scrapbook, Houston County, TN. Archives

Correspondence: A lot of our families were not able to be with each other at Christmas for whatever reason. Maybe it was war time and members of the family were off to war in a foreign country. Maybe our ancestors just lived too far away from each other and couldn't make the trek to meet up with family members for Christmas. If your lucky, possibly you have Christmas letters in your genealogy collection. These types of correspondence exist in the archives too! Most of the time these types of correspondence will be found in specific Manuscript Collections.

Christmas Greeting Letter, Houston County, TN. Archives

This is just a few ways you can "Find Christmas in the Archives"!



Old Family Letters! Do you have them? Are you preserving them properly? Find out how to preserve your old family letters from an archivist!

Preserving Old Family Letters: Tips from an Archivist