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A Genealogist In The Archives: 2020

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

General Mills Archives, Food and Your Ancestors

It's that time of year when we celebrate the Holidays. Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Celebrations abound and a common denominator is food. Many of us have family traditions we practice during this time. We prepare certain recipes and share them with our friends and family. 

General Mills Archives Website

As genealogists we have a great opportunity to document this aspect of our family's history. During the holidays when our family members are more willing to share their memories, we should be collecting those memories and preserving them. Almost all of us have memories related to food. Whether that is Aunt Linda's fruit cake or that Jell-O mold that was at every Christmas dinner table, we remember these dishes and they generate stories that we should be recording. 

Along with the stories, we should also be trying to document the recipes so they are not forgotten. I inherited my Grandmother's recipe boxes and they are a true treasure. However, these recipe boxes do not include many of the recipes that I remember because my Grandmother kept those in her head and didn't write them down. I so regret not having her write them down or writing them down as she made each dish. Now they are lost and all that remains are the memories me and my other family members have to cherish.

Agnes Marie (Curtis) LeMaster Chess Pie Recipe, Melissa Barker Records

I recently read a great book about the history of Betty Crocker. The book is Finding Betty Crocker: The Secret Life of America's First Lady Of Food by Susan Marks and can be found on Amazon at this link: . This was an interesting look at the history of Betty Crocker (who, by the way, was not a real person, which I did not know until I read this book!) and introduced me to the General Mills Archives. While this archives is not open to the general public, they are available to answer questions from the public by email and through their website.

So, during the holidays when you are with your family, whether that is in person or virtually, talk about the food traditions and recipes. Write them down and document them so they are not forgotten. Preserve your family's food history for the next generations!


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Family Gatherings: Dragging Genealogy Information Out of Your Family

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Stirring Up the Past: Revolutions in Tennessee Cooking Virtual Exhibit

So many of us are really missing visiting our favorite libraries, archives and museums. But wait, there are online exhibits that many of these archives are adding to their websites for us to enjoy.

One such archive is the Tennessee State Library and Archives. The TSLA has several online exhibits to explore and now they have a NEW one. 

Stirring Up the Past: Revolutions in Tennessee Cooking Virtual Exhibit was added to their website this week. The TSLA describes this virtual exhibit as: 

Prior to the current age, food preparation took months of planning and dedication.  Putting meals together was more than scanning directions on the back of the box; it required hard-earned wisdom and a lot of time.  For example, a vinegar recipe from the 1800s states, “It should be made in May to be ready for the fall pickling.”  The exhibit covers not only how food was prepared but also how the latest technology has transformed the face of modern day cooking.  The exhibit delves into Native American cooking, Pioneer/Civil War cooking, Victorian cooking and cooking in the Modern Age.  Join us for a nostalgic view of the way the original Betty Crockers got it done! Whether you eat fitness bars or indulge in Ben and Jerry’s, our exhibit will satisfy your hunger to know how food preparation originated.  Bring your intellectual appetite!

The topics covered in the exhibit are:

Native Americans
Pioneer Food Preparations
Civil War Era
Victorian Era
Modern Era

There is even a link in the exhibit where you can download old recipes from 1767-1985.

No exhibit would be complete without photos and documents and this virtual exhibit has both. 

Virtual exhibits are starting to become very popular with archives. They can reach a wider audience virtually than in-person visits, especially with this time of the coronavirus. The next time you are visiting an archives website, check and see if they have any virtual exhibits.


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Friday, November 13, 2020

Book Review: "The Psychology of Searching" by Dr. Penny Walters

The Psychology of Searching by Dr. Penny Walters is a self-published book about looking at the psychology of why we do genealogy research. Why are we interested in our family tree and our ancestor’s past. This look at the reasons why we genealogists do genealogy intrigued me because I am always asking “Why?” about my ancestors and part of that “why” is why do we do genealogy.

This book has only 163 pages with 22 pages dedicated to a robust reference section. The chapter headings themselves will no doubt interest any genealogist:

Chapter 1: Why do we ‘do’ genealogy?

Chapter 2: What is a relative?

Chapter 3: Reconstructing the past

Chapter 4: The psychology of naming

Chapter 5: How do you visually present your family?

Chapter 6: Death and dying

The author digs right in with Chapter 1: Why do we ‘do’ genealogy? She asks the question “What is your motivation to start compiling your family history?” which made me stop and think what my answer to that question would be. I think all genealogists can remember what it was that started them on their journey of researching their family history. Whatever the reason, Walters goes into the psychology of why genealogists do what they do. I appreciated the fact that on Page 8 the author says “Genealogy is not like other pastimes. In fact, it is not really a pastime at all. Genealogy is a field of study that is integral to the human condition.” I would completely agree with this quote.

Chapter 3 was probably my favorite chapter of this book. Dr. Penny Walters dedicates this chapter to genealogists reconstructing the past, their ancestor’s past. What I liked about this chapter is the fact that Walters emphasized the need to know everything about our ancestors. More than just dates of birth, marriage, and death. As the very beginning of the chapter, Walters asks “What did my ancestors do all day?” This is exactly the question I ask myself as I research my ancestors. I want to know everything there is to know about each ancestor. I want to know what they had for breakfast, what were their hobbies, what did they do daily. Walters quotes Bob Brooke on page 63 as stating “Tracing a family’s emotional behaviour patterns over the last few generations can shed light on present day problems.” This statement is so true and one that I have researched myself and have seen the correlation.

I must say that Chapter 6 addresses the question that I suspect all genealogists get “Why are you looking for dead people?” I have gotten this question from several of my family members who don’t understand why I want to know information about our ancestors who are dead and gone. Walters covers different religions and their beliefs about death. She then talks about genealogy records relating to death that the genealogists can seek online and at various archives.

The reference section starting on page 141 is quite extensive and I was pleased to see such a healthy reference section. As an archivist, when I read a book I usually go directly to the reference, notes or bibliography section just to see what the author used as reference for what they have written. Dr. Penny Walters has a variety of references, everything from academic psychology reference works to well known genealogists such as Lisa Louise Cooke owner of Genealogy Gems. I found myself highlighting and taking notes while reading through the reference section of this book so that I could do further reading.

Dr. Penny Walters has done a wonderful job with this most recent work and I recommend it to my genealogy friends. I can also recommend her previously published book Ethical Dilemmas in Genealogy.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Preserving Your Ancestor's American Flag

Today we honor our military veterans with Veteran's Day in the United States. 

Many genealogists, for whatever reason, have in their possession an American flag. Maybe it was handed down from generation to generation and now it belongs to you. Maybe the flag you have was once draped over a casket of a deceased soldier or veteran from your family.

Whatever the reason, if you have an American flag among your genealogical records and artifacts, it is important that you know how to fold it and preserve it so that it will survive for generations to come.

First, the American flag must be folded property. Here is a great website to show you how to fold the flag and it includes visuals:

Once the American flag has been folded properly, it's time to archive is properly. To do this, you will only need to purchase two items.

You Will Need:

-Archival Tissue Paper to wrap the folded flag in before it is put in an archival box

-A special archival box specifically for folded flags

These items can be purchased at any online archival materials store:

Online Archival Supply Stores:

Gaylord Archival:
Hollinger Metal Edge:
University Products:
Light Impressions:

Take the folded flag and wrap it in archival tissue paper. Place the wrapped flag into the archival flag box. It would be a good idea to add a note in the box stating how you obtained the flag, the significance of the flag to your family and who it belonged to.

Store the boxed flag in a cool, dry and dark place. Do not store in an attic, basement on in direct sunlight. If you decide to frame the American flag, that is perfectly fine. I do suggest that you take it to a framing company that is experienced in archival framing with archival matting and UV protective glass. You can frame the flag yourself by purchasing a memorial flag case from an online archival materials store. They have one that you can hang on the wall or set on a table.

Memorial Flag Case for the Table

Memorial Flag Case for the Wall

It is important to preserve and archive our most precious family heirlooms and if we are fortunate enough to have an American flag in our collection, be sure to take care of it in a proper and archival way.



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Sunday, November 1, 2020

Genealogists are Home Archivists!


"31 Days of Tips from The Archive Lady"

DAY #31

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 2020, 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:



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Friday, October 30, 2020

Ask the Archivist! We are Here to Help!


"31 Days of Tips from The Archive Lady"

DAY #30

It is day #30 of "31 Days of Tips from an Archivist"! We are almost at the end!

One question I get from genealogists is "How can I work with an archive when I can't actually go there?" This is especially true right now during our current situation.

Houston County, TN. Archives

If you can not travel to the archives, make a phone call or email them to make your requests. The records that are sitting on the shelves are just waiting for YOU to discover them! 

Today's tip is an important one for each and every genealogist. If you walk into an archive or find yourself needing to call or email them, please don't be afraid to talk to the archivist, make a request or ask what records are available. We are here to help you! We can't be of help if we don't tell us what you need. Our archivists, librarians, clerks and volunteers are there to help the genealogist locate records on their ancestors.

Here are a some guidelines to help the genealogist when asking questions of the archivist:

  • Be as specific with your request as possible. The more specific your question is, the better the archivist will be able to help you. 
  • Please don't ask "I want everything for the Smith family". This question will not be beneficial to you or the archivist. It will only serve to make the process of searching for records more difficult. 
  • Call Ahead! Ask the archivist about specific records such as vital records, deed records, court records, etc. and what the archive has available. Understanding if the archive has the records you are looking for before you even step foot in the facility will save you precious research time.
  • Ask the archivist about Vertical Files. This records collections is one that I find many genealogists just don't know about or know to ask for
  • Ask the archivist about Manuscript Collections. Remember that these records are stored in back rooms and will need to be requested. Be sure to study the Finding Aids of the collections that interest you.

The next time you are visiting an archive, talking with an archivist on the phone or sending an email, communicate your needs to the archivist.



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It's Not All Online, Researching in Archives


Thursday, October 29, 2020

Using Unique Records to Fill in Your Ancestor's Timeline


"31 Days of Tips from The Archive Lady"

DAY #29

Do you have gaps in your ancestor's timeline? Are you curious about what your ancestor's did in-between the time the census was taken? You might just find what your looking for in the many records collections of an archive.

Working daily in an archive, I get to work with many kinds of records that are not your "normal" genealogical records. A lot of these unique records are not online and have to be sought out by the genealogist. Records in archives can help you fill in the gaps in your ancestor's timeline.

As a genealogists for the past 26 years, I have been working diligently on my own family history and that of my husbands. Recently, I was able to combine both archives work and genealogy research all in one with a fantastic result.

The Stewart County, Tennessee Archives is just one of our wonderful archives here in Tennessee and the area where my husband's family lived back in the 1800's. I recently became aware of a packet of records that had been found in the Stewart County, Tennessee Archives for a Jesse Glasgow (1816-1892), my husband's great great grandfather. I requested copies of these original records that included over 50 pages of documents and receipts that have never been microfilmed and are not online anywhere. 

Inside the Stewart County, Tennessee Archives. Photo courtesy Stewart County, Tennessee Archives

One of the documents that was sent to me was a copy of a receipt for a Louisiana Lottery Ticket that Jesse Glasgow had purchased in June 1888. Jesse bought 1 ticket and the ticket number was #92074. 

Courtesy Stewart County, Tennessee Archives, Jesse Glasgow Louisiana Lottery Ticket Notification, June 9, 1888

I found it interesting that Jesse Glasgow was buying a lottery ticket from Louisiana while living in Tennessee. And I didn't even know there was a lottery in the 1800's. So I did some research and found that the Louisiana Lottery was a very controversial even in the history of the State of Louisiana. You can read about the Louisiana Lottery here:

It is not known if Jesse Glasgow won anything from the Louisiana Lottery but the fact that he bought a ticket and I have a copy of the receipt from the Stewart County, Tennessee Archives helps me to document an event in his life that happened between the 1880 and 1900 census records. I had nothing recorded for Jesse between these census years and now I do because of a county archive with records that they have archived and preserved.

Courtesy "The Times-Picayune" Newspaper Photographs, an example of a Louisiana State Lottery Ticket, May 8, 1888


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Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Finding Unidentified Photographs in the Archives


"31 Days of Tips from The Archive Lady"

DAY #28

Finding a photograph of our ancestor can be a genealogical accomplishment and a reason to do the "Genealogy Happy Dance". Many genealogists, like myself, are still looking for their ancestor's photograph. Did you know that many archives have photograph collections? This fact may not be known by most genealogists because photograph collections are not in plain site and available in the research room. Photograph collections are usually housed in a records vault or in a back room in cold storage stacks.

Stewart County, TN. Archives Back Room Stacks

Photographs are donated to archives on a regular basis. A few years ago, the local newspaper in Houston County, Tennessee donated their entire collection of old photographs to the Houston County Archives. All photographs are now taken digitally and never printed. These boxes of photographs included people, buildings, local events and many other subjects. The Houston County Archives is now processing these photographs, inventorying them and will eventually digitize them to be shared online. 

Donated Photo Albums, Houston County, TN. Archives

Photographs of individuals, groups, couples and children are a big part of most photograph collections. Also, photographs of local buildings, houses and business can be part of the collection. There could also be school group photos, church Sunday school classes and the local Garden Club available in archived photograph collections.

Whenever visiting an archive, always ask about their Photograph Collection. The archivist may first give you an index to look through. If you see something of interest, tell the archivist or make a written request that those particular photographs be pulled and brought to you.

When the archivist brings the photographs, do not be surprised if you are asked to wear gloves to handle them. The oils and dirt on hands can damage photographs if handled without gloves. Even though the photographs maybe contained in archival sleeves, gloves may still be required. 

Tools of the Archivist, Including Gloves, Houston County, TN. Archives

Ask about the "Unidentified Photographs" in the collection. Almost all archives have unidentified photographs just waiting for someone to identify them. This group is usually the largest section of the photograph collection. If you know what your ancestor's looked like, please take time to search through the unidentified photographs to see if you can find identify any of the photographs. 

Unidentified Group Photo, Houston County, TN. Archives

It is always so sad when I receive a donation of photographs and most of them are unidentified. I look at the faces in those photographs and I know those people belong to someone who is doing genealogy research. I just wish I could reunite them.

The next time you are visiting an archive, talking with the archivist on the phone or emailing them, ask about their photograph collections. You might be pleasantly surprised!



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Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Preserving Your Ancestor's War Letters and V-Mail


"31 Days of Tips from The Archive Lady"

DAY #27

Many genealogists have letters from their ancestor's during their time in the military and especially letters that was sent to family members during wartime. These letters can include handwritten letters, postcards and V-Mail. Also, among genealogical family papers could be Western Union Messages that was sent by the soldier or by the U.S. Government to advise the family of the death of their family member or other information.

WWII V-Mail Correspondence, Houston County, TN. Archives

So, how do we preserve this correspondence? Whether these letters date back to the Revolutionary War or as recent as last week you received a letter from your son from Afghanistan, the process is the same and very easy for the genealogist to accomplish.

The archival materials you will need purchase:

-Archival document sleeves to put the letters and documents in, these come in all shapes and sizes to accommodate the various sizes of stationary

-Archival file folders, to put the documents that are in archival sleeves

-Archival boxes, to put the file folders full of correspondence

I am asked all the time about whether or not the letters should be taken out of their envelopes and my answer is a resounding YES! Each and every letter should be removed from their envelope, unfolded and flattened. Place the letter AND the envelope in the same archival document sleeve. This keeps the envelope with the letter it belongs to and doesn't get mixed up with other letters. Be sure to fold down the flap on the envelope where the glue part is located. Even if there is no glue remaining, it doesn't need to touch the letter.

Correspondence in Vertical File, Houston County, TN. Archives

Take the letters, postcards and other correspondence that you have put in archival sleeves and place them in archival file folders. You can put more than one letter in a file folder but I wouldn't put more than ten letters in one file folder. It is up to you how your label your file folders, however, a suggestion could be to put the file folders in chronological order.

Once the correspondence has been put in archival sleeves and file folders, the folders then need to be stored in archival Hollinger boxes. Some like to store their file folders in filing cabinets and that is also acceptable. Be sure to label the Hollinger boxes so that it is known what is contained in them.

V-Mail Correspondence, Houston County, TN. Archives

An additional way to preserve military correspondence is to transcribe all the letters and save those transcriptions electronically. So, if you have letters, postcards and V-mail from your ancestors when they were in the military, be sure to properly preserve them.



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Monday, October 26, 2020

Genealogy Records Off the Beaten Path

"31 Days of Tips from The Archive Lady"

DAY #26

Court records, deeds records, scrapbooks, photographs... these are some of the more well known record groups that most researchers access when they visit an archive, historical society or library.  

But did you know that there are numerous other record groups and types that are housed in archives that are almost never requested to be viewed by researchers. Why is that? Maybe it's because the researcher doesn't know these wonderful collections exist.

Wisdom Lodge #300 Newspaper Clipping, Houston County, TN. Archives

Here are 5 tips for genealogy researchers to learn about and view unique records in the archives where their ancestors lived:

1. Plan, plan, plan! Every genealogist who visits an archives, historical society or library to do research needs to have a research plan in place before they step foot in the door of the facility.  

2. Ask the archivist or librarian what record collections they have that are unique or unknown to the general public. Possibly there is an index of what is in the collection or better yet a Finding Aid.

3. Ask the archivist or librarian to allow you to view all of their records indexes or all of their Finding Aids. Most repositories will have these printed and in notebooks or they will be available on patron computers in the facility.

Election Worker's Payroll Request, Houston County, TN. Archives

4. Specifically ask to view the Vertical File Collection index. This index will be alphabetical and will include surnames as well as subjects such as "Erin United Methodist Church". Each file could contain just about anything. Remember...Vertical Files are like a box of chocolates, you never know what your going to get!

5. Specifically ask to view the index to the Manuscript Collection. Again, this listing will be alphabetical. The titles could be named anything, some of the more familiar titles will look something like this: "John Doe's Family Papers 1812-1900", "Erin Methodist Church 1848-1920". These collections could be contained in one box or in multiple boxes. The Finding Aid for the collection will help you decipher what is in the collection.

The next time you visit an archives, historical society or library to dig up those records on your ancestors, try these 5 tips to help you find those unique records, the ones that will tell more of your ancestor's story, the ones that will put "meat on your ancestors's bones"!



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Sunday, October 25, 2020

5 Easy Steps to Preserving the Family Bible


"31 Days of Tips from The Archive Lady"

DAY #25

One of the most precious items genealogists have in their records collection is the family Bible. This family heirloom is one that is most cherished and can contain the family history. The one-of-a-kind pages with handwritten names and dates help genealogists with their genealogy research but also reminds us of the ancestors that wrote on those pages. Preserving the family Bible is essential to preserving family history.

Family Bible donated to the Houston County, TN. Archives

Preserving a Family Bible Can Be Done in 5 Easy Steps:  

1. Transcribe the information contained on the pages in the family Bible. This step needs to be done so that once the Bible has been stored away and preserved, it doesn't get handled and risk damage.

2. Digitize all pages that contain any genealogical information.  This can be done by using a flat bed scanner, a hand held scanner or taking digital photographs. If the Bible is fragile, be very careful what technique is used.

Bible Page with Genealogical Information

3. Place archival tissue paper between the pages that have writing on them. This will insure that none of the writing bleeds onto the other pages if the Bible comes in contact with moisture.

4. Put the family Bible in an archival box that is lined with archival tissue paper. Be sure the box is not too small and not too big. To make sure the Bible doesn't move around in the box, crumple up archival tissue paper and place around the Bible. The Bible will fit snuggly and should not move.  

5. Store in a cool, dry and dark place. Handle the Bible as little as possible.

German Bible Donated to the Houston County, TN. Archives

Here is a listing of the archival materials needed to preserve a Family Bible:

Archival Tissue Paper:
Archival Storage Box:



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Saturday, October 24, 2020

Museums Have Archived Records Too!

"31 Days of Tips from The Archive Lady"

DAY #24

A little unknown fact in the archive and genealogy world is museums have archived records too! Yes, that's right! Museums aren't just for artifacts and historical objects that patrons walk through and admire  and then leave. 

I like to say that most museums have a "front room" and a "back room". The front room is filled with displays and exhibits. There could be multiple rooms filled with artifacts on display in glass cases for the visitor to enjoy.

What genealogists don't know is that many of our wonderful museums have "back rooms" full of historical and genealogical documents. 

For instance, at the Lincoln Memorial University Museum in Harrogate, Tennessee (, they have the second largest collection of Abraham Lincoln artifacts and memorabilia in the United States in their museum. They also have a back room filled with historical and genealogical records. 

Here is a short video from the PBS program Tennessee Crossroads about the museum which shows the records room. (  

Lincoln Memorial University Museum in Harrogate, Tennessee

Locating museums in the area where your ancestor lived can be done by talking to the local librarian, local archivist or the local Chamber of Commerce. Once you have located the museum, contact them by phone or email and ask them about their archived records. 

Another option is to check out the website ArchiveGrid ( This is a fantastic genealogical and archival resource that should be utilized by every genealogist. Thousands of libraries, archives and museums have put information about their records on ArchiveGrid. One example is the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum-Frist Library and Archive. There are over 600 pages of record content for this one museum alone on ArchiveGrid.

So, the next time you travel to where your ancestors came from, check and see if there is a museum. If there is one, stop by and ask if they have a "back room" with archived records. You just might be pleasantly surprised.



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It's Not All Online: Researching in Archives


Friday, October 23, 2020

Voting Records in the Archives


"31 Days of Tips from The Archive Lady"

DAY #23

"And the next President of the United States is.....". We will once again, for the 46th time in United States history, here these words come November 3, 2020. As a people, the United States will elect a President to govern our country.

Have you ever wondered what your ancestor's thought about politics? Did they vote in the Presidential Elections, state elections or even the local county or community elections? Did they participate in the political process in some way?

City of Erin Election Returns, August 7, 1924, Houston County, Tennessee Archives

Voting and election records are available to the genealogist at many archives. Seeking out these types of records adds to our ancestor's life story. If you haven't researched your ancestors in these types of records, you should!

So, just what kinds of voting records can be found, I am highlighting just a few here but there is so much more. Be sure to check with all local archives, historical societies, genealogical societies, libraries and university archives in the areas where your ancestor's lived and voted to see what is available.

The Poll Tax:  One of the first types of records that I always suggest researchers look for are Poll Tax records A poll tax was a prerequisite to the registration for voting in many states. This Poll Tax would have been included on the regular tax records of the area or county where your ancestor lived. So, even if your ancestor didn't own property, you will want to check the tax records for this Poll Tax.

Voting Records: Many archives have voting records. These could be in the form of Election Returns, Voter Registrations, etc. These records are a great place to find your ancestor's names and possible signatures. These records could also have local election officials who worked the elections or were in charge of operating the elections and counting the ballots.

Listing of Voters in the 1924 Erin City Elections, Houston County, Tennessee Archives

Election Workers Records: Your ancestors may not have run for office but maybe they were still part of the election process by being an Election Worker. Maybe they worked the polls and registered voters. Maybe they campaigned for a local candidate. Possibly they were an election official or served on the local Election Board. There could be records for your ancestors that showed their service during an election.

Election Worker's Pay Roll, District 7, May 9, 1963, Houston County, Tennessee Archives

Availability of voting/election records will vary from place to place. Be sure to call ahead to the local archives and ask if they have these kinds of records. Or possibly check their website to see if they have their holdings listed. Never travel to an archive without knowing if they have the records you are looking for, this will save you time and disappointment.

The United States has been holding elections since our very founding. It only makes sense to include searching for voting/election records to the genealogists to-do list. As genealogists we want to tell our ancestor's full story and that includes voting/election records.



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Thursday, October 22, 2020

Archived Records Tell the Story of Our Ancestor's Daily Lives

"31 Days of Tips from The Archive Lady"

DAY #22

As genealogists we are always searching for the basic genealogy records for our ancestors: birth certificates, marriage records, death certificates, census records, etc. But have you given any thought to your ancestor's daily lives, the daily activities and the records that could have been produced?

A local archive is a genealogist's gold mine when it comes to finding records and ephemera about our ancestor's daily lives and activities. Many times these types of records are not online and can only be accessed on site at the archive.

W.V. Pulley Probate File. Houston County, Tennessee Archives

For instance, your female ancestors and maybe even your male ancestors, shopped at the local grocery store. Maybe your curious about the prices of groceries or what was available. Local mercantile and store records can help you tell that story. You could even find store ledgers in the archive that may have your ancestor's account listed by name with the items they purchased and the cost of each item.

Skelton's Supermarket Flyer ca. 1962. Houston County, Tennessee Archives

Banking Records. Did your ancestor have a bank account or did their banking at the local bank? Banking records can help us when we are trying to piece together our ancestor's financial matters. Banking ledgers are a great resource and can sometimes be found at local or state archives.

Erin Bank and Trust Notes Left at the Bank, ca. 1898. Houston County, Tennessee Archives

Entertainment! Your ancestor's worked hard but they also played when they got the chance. Maybe your ancestors went dancing, went to the local church social or maybe they saw the latest movie release. Don't think of your ancestors as always putting in a hard days work. When they had the chance, they may have attended to the local movie theatre and checked out the latest movie release!

Erin Theatre Handbill, ca. 1958. Houston County, Tennessee Archives

These are just some of the types of records that are in our archives, the possibilities are endless!

It is important that we collect those normal records that give us dates of when our ancestors lived and the milestones in their lives. But it is just as important to seek out records and ephemera that help to tell our ancestor's full story. Finding records about all aspects of their daily lives will help us to understand our ancestors better and hopefully bring them to life!

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

It's Not All Online: Researching In Archives Webinar!

Researching in archives, libraries, historical societies, genealogical societies, courthouses and any other repository can be intimidating. This webinar will show you how to plan ahead for a successful research trip and also help you with your "To-Do List" once you get there. Contacting or visiting an archive will help the genealogist be more successful in their genealogy research.