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A Genealogist In The Archives: Ask the Archivist! We are Here to Help!

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.



Learn More About Researching in Archives, In-Person or From A Distance!

It's Not All Online, Researching in Archives


1 comment:

  1. Thank you for taking your time to educate us. I have learned so much. I learned not to give up hope because the answer is there, but I just have not asked all the right questions. And it is important to know who to ask those questions to and you have done that for me during this month. So thank you again from an old lady who has been doing this long before there were computers.
    Norma J. Brant Schenk Miller
    Born a Brant
    Adopted a Schenk
    and married to a Miller for over 50 years.
    Paul E Miller 24 May 1951- 19 April 2020