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A Genealogist In The Archives: January 2022

Friday, January 28, 2022

Friday Book Review: "Downsizing with Family History in Mind"

Downsizing with Family History in Mind

Author: Devon Noel Lee & Andrew Lee
Publisher: FHF Group LLC
Publication Year: 2019
Pages: 189
ISBN: 978-1-09797-973-8

Front Cover

Organizing genealogy records can be one of the most difficult tasks a genealogist has to tackle. Devon Noel Lee & Andrew Lee have published a book to help with this task.

We all know that it’s so difficult to decide what to keep and what not to keep. In Chapter 1 of Downsizing with Family History in Mind it is obvious that Lee understand this issue with the statement; “The hardest part of the process involves determining the degree of emotional attachment you have to items that invoke memories. Sometimes you know too much about your possessions. You may struggle with guilt that prevents you from giving things new homes which will enable you to fit into your new living situation.”

From the very beginning the authors promote the necessity of having a method and using that method consistently to downsize. Even suggesting that just de-cluttering just does not work, we must go further to accomplish our goal. The book not only gives the reader straight forward and easy instructions on downsizing but it also gives us the tools we need to evaluate our possessions to make the hard decisions.

Downsizing with Family History in Mind is written in short sections, no chapters assigned. That makes this book more of a reference book which is ideal for those of us that leave very busy lives and may not have the time to sit down and read the entire book from cover to cover. The Table of Contents is very clear about what each section is addressing and the reader can go right to the section that will help them at that moment and time.

Within each section, the subjects addressed have a clear heading in bold fonts with the text following. There are numerous headings that will catch the reader’s attention and make them stop and read. Such headings as Throw It All Out!-Method and I Can’t Let it Go”-Method got my attention and enticed me to read that section.

The authors have put together a very positive reference work gives you the feeling that they are on your side and not condemning you for how you have handled your piles of stuff. The more I read, the more I was inspired to take their suggestions and put them into practice. This was because of the encouragement they give the reader in the pages of their book.

As an archivist I was particularly interested in the section entitled Reduce: Evaluate Your Papers and Documents. The methodical way that the authors teach the reader to downsize and go through their personal papers is simply yet effective. The instructions are very clearly written and are short and to the point. Genealogists will definitely find this section most helpful when it comes to their piles of papers.

In the section Reclaim: Gain Space by Giving Away gives some great advice on where to give away your stuff. I was particularly pleased to see the authors suggest giving genealogical materials to museums, archives, universities, genealogical societies and libraries.

In every section there is what the authors call Action Plans. These actions plans “are designed to help you in your downsizing”. They are exactly as they are presented, plans of action to downsize specific types stuff to help you downsize. In the back of the book the authors give the readers several action plan options such as “Downsizing: 1-Hour Action Plan”, “Downsizing: Weekend Action Plan”, etc. These action plans gives the person doing the downsizing a step-by-step listing of what to do to downsize. These are great references to use as a guide, especially if you are feeling overwhelmed.

Back Cover

I can highly recommend this book by Devon Noel Lee & Andrew Lee to anyone that is looking to clean out the closets in their home, cleaning out the attic or just needing to clean out and organize their genealogy file cabinet. Whether you have an hour or a weekend to complete your downsizing task, using this book to help you with the job will make all the difference.

(This review was originally published in the Winter 2019 issue of the FGS magazine FORUM.)


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Presented by Lisa Lisson of Are You My Cousin!
When: February 8, 2022 at 7:00 p.m. Eastern

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Using Archived Records to Fill in Your Ancestor's Timeline

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 record collections in an archive.

Working daily in a county 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 genealogist. Records in archives can help you fill the gaps in your ancestor's timeline.

Lyle Family Records Collection, Houston County, Tennessee Archives

Being the family genealogists for the past 32 years, I have been working diligently on my own family history and that of my husbands. Recently, I was able to combine my archives work and my genealogy research all in one with a fantastic result.

The Stewart County, Tennessee Archives is just one of our wonderful county archives here in Tennessee. Stewart County, Tennessee is the main region my husband's ancestors lived in the 1800's. I recently became aware of a collection of records that had been found in the Stewart County, Tennessee Archives for 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 purchased and is dated June 9, 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. I didn't even know there was a lottery in the 1800s! So, I did some research and found that the Louisiana Lottery was a very controversial event 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. I had nothing recorded for Jesse between these census years and now I do because of a county archive had records they archived and preserved.

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


NEW Masterclass Available!

Presented by Lisa Lisson of Are You My Cousin!
When: February 8, 2022 at 7:00 p.m. Eastern

Friday, January 21, 2022

Friday Book Review: "Substitutes for the Lost 1890 U.S. Federal Census"

This Friday I have a fantastic book to recommend from a well known genealogy book author, William Dollarhide. I have this book on my genealogy reference bookshelf and refer to it often.

Substitutes for the Lost 1890 U.S. Federal Census

Author: William Dollarhide
Publisher: Family Roots Publishing Co.
Publication Year: 2019
Pages: 101
ISBN: 978-1-62859-254-2
Amazon Link:
Genealogists everywhere are always looking for record sources to document their ancestors that would have been recorded in the 1890 U.S. Federal Population Census. Due to the fact that the majority of this particular census was destroyed by fire in 1921, census substitutes play a key role.
According to the publisher “This is the first comprehensive guide to substitutes for the lost 1890 U.S. Federal Census ever compiled”. The author, William Dollarhide, is well known as the co-author and cartographer of Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Censuses. Dollardhide does not disappoint with this new work.
This new book is chocked full of great information and guidance to the reader on finding our ancestors without the help of the 1890 census. Dollarhide explains “All 1,203 database titles listed in this review were extracted from the series of state books, Censuses & Substitute Name Lists” One of the first things Dollarhide covers is the history of the 1890 census, how it was enumerated and its fate.
The “National Name Lists 65 major U.S. databases identified in the National Name Lists section came from one of the following categories: National Vital Records Lists, Immigration Lists, U.S. Military Lists, Veterans and Pensioners Lists, State Name Lists, State & Territory Census Records, State and County Court Records, Directories, State Militia Lists, Tax Lists and Vital Records Lists.” This is a pretty comprehensive collection of resources.
The remainder of the book is filled with resources pointing the genealogist to online databases and websites that will help us find our ancestors in spite of the loss of the 1890 census. Dollarhide gives us the name of the record source, a brief description and then the internet link to take us to the actual website. The author begins with a chapter on National Name Lists of Major U.S. Databases for the Period 1885-1895. Starting on page 21, Dollarhide addresses these names list sites by U.S. State beginning with Alabama and ending with Wyoming. The reader can read through each state or you can flip right to the state where you are doing research and see what databases are listed.
Since Tennessee is my area of expertise, I flipped over to that section and found some well known and not so well known databases, websites and digitized records for the state of Tennessee. These resources for information and records not only cover the year 1890 but for the most part several years before and after that particular year. I was especially glad to see references to Family Search databases that are not indexed but are only browsable and include actual digitized records.
Included on almost every page are actual examples of the documents that can be found at the databases that Dollarhide shares with us. These are records like state census records, early tax lists, marriage indexes and directory listings just to name a few. On page 2 of the book is a handy table of State Censuses by state dating from 1884-1896. This table lets the reader know which states had state census and what year those censuses were taken. This table is a great quick reference for the researcher to use as they are conducting their genealogy research.
This volume is one of those books that the genealogist would do well to keep at arm’s reach while conducting genealogy research. This is a quick reference guide that should be part of our genealogy resource book collection.

(This review was originally published in the FGS FORUM, Vol. 32, No. 2, Summer 2020)


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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

MyHeritage Launches FREE Genealogy Course

Anyone who knows me knows I am all about genealogy education. Not only do I seek it out for myself but I am a genealogy educator. 

I was so pleased to see an email from MyHeritage's Daniel Horowitz announcing their NEW MyHeritage FREE Introduction to Genealogy Course.  

MyHeritage describes this course as:

If you are looking to learn more about your family history, you're in the right place! In this free online course you'll gain a detailed understanding of how to kickstart your family history research. Each lesson will provide a step-by-step walkthrough of different topics in the world of genealogy. You'll learn firsthand from top experts, and once you complete the course you'll have all the tools you'll need to grow your family tree and make exciting discoveries about your ancestors. The entire course is completely free of charge.

You can access the course at this link.

Education in general can be expensive, no matter what subject you are studying. MyHeritage is offering this Introduction to Genealogy Course absolutely FREE! 

The presenters are well know lectureres in the genealogy community:

  • Daniel Horowitz, the genealogy expert at MyHeritage
  • Dana Drutman, Senior Product Manager, MyHeritage
  • David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist, New England Historic Genealogical Society
  • Ellen Kowitt, Jewish family history specialist
  • James M. Beidler, author and genealogy consultant
  • James Tanner, Professional Genealogist
  • Mike Mansfield, director, Content Operations, MyHeritage
  • Ran Snir, director, Product Management, MyHeritage
  • Sharon Monson, Professional Genealogist and author
  • Shauna Hicks, Australian family history researcher
  • Thomas MacEntee, Professional Genealogist

If you are a beginning genealogist, a genealogist who has been researching for awhile or a seasoned genealogist, I would encourage you to check out this course. 

FREE genealogy education, you can't beat it!


How are you coming with the New Year and Organizing Your Genealogy Research Records? 

Need some help?

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The Home Archivist: Preserving Family Records Like a Pro!

Friday, January 14, 2022

Friday Book Review: "Gritty Southern Christmas Anthology"

Gritty Southern Christmas Anthology by Various Authors. Published by Bluewater Publication at  2021. ISBN 978-1-949711-89-9.  137 pp. Paperback $14.99; eBook $2.99.


This book review was supposed to have been published on this blog before Christmas. Unfortunately, with the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it did not get published. I thought about not publishing the review because this is a “Christmas book” but after I read it, I decided that it would be helpful year-round.

The publisher describes this book as “This collection contains handpicked works from some of the most successful and creative writers in the South, each of them sharing their story through works of fiction and poetry. It starts with a work from the incoming poet laureate of Alabama and includes a work from the current poet laureate. We have work from the sweetheart of romance writers, Vanessa David Griggs, as well as M.E. Hubbs, author of two books with over seventy stellar reviews. The purpose of this anthology is to be honest about the holidays. Not every story is warm and fuzzy, and that’s okay. The story of the underdog is one that Gritty Southern Christmas Anthology knows well. Dr. Ashley Jones’s opening poem sets the tone, reminding us that Christmas does not mean we have to create a false narrative to save face. We have to be authentic with the people we love the most.”

After reading this book, I felt like I could face the holidays since it’s only been a couple of years since both of my parents have passed and they loved the holidays. Reading the poems, stories, and memories of these 16 authors was inspirational and was a true comfort to me. Therefore, I knew I had to publish this review.

This book contains 16 authored works, each one unique and full of meaning. This is not a book you will sit down and read cover to cover but one that you will read one story and allow it to speak to you before you move on to the next one. It was hard to choose my favorites but a couple that really spoke to me were The Gift, How to Peel an Orange and Blessings in Disguise.

I can highly recommend Gritty Southern Christmas Anthology to anyone who is struggling through the holidays or is struggling through day-to-day life.

You can purchase a copy of Gritty Southern Christmas Anthology at Amazon at these links:




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Preserving Your Ancestor's Textiles and Handmade Treasures

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Thumbing Through Your Ancestor's Books

 Today in the Houston County, Tennessee Archives we received a donation of various books from a local resident. She had been cleaning out her attic and found them and brought them to the archives to be donated.

This collection of books includes mostly music books but there was also a couple of other books of interest. One of those books was actually a composition notebook where one of her family members copied stories from a history book when he was in school. Not tremendously historical but it was in someone's own handwriting and was dated 1928.

Donated Composition Book, Houston County, TN. Archives

One action that I always take when I receive any kind of book in the archives is to thumb through it's pages. "Why?" you ask. The reason is because it's amazing what people will put inside of books for a place holder, bookmark or to stash for safe keeping.

In this donated composition book was a small card that has the name John L. Emery and the address Summers St, Cohasset, Mass.

Card Found in Composition Book, Houston County, TN. Archives

What a find! This card will be documented and processed with the book as it was found.

Have you received or inherited a collection of books from your ancestors? Make sure you take the time to thumb through each book to see if there are any scraps of paper, ephemera or other items that have been tucked into those books. What you find just might have information that could help you with your genealogy research.




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"Scrapbooks: A Genealogist's Gold Mine"

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Organizing Your Genealogy Research, Tips from an Archivist

Happy New Year!

It's hard to believe it's 2022!

I am excited about a New Year for genealogy research and being the archivist at the Houston County, TN. Archives. I am looking forward to meeting all the genealogist that will walk through the archives door, call me on the phone or send me an email with their genealogy research questions. Helping genealogists is the best part of my job as an archivist.

I am also looking forward to the opportunities to speak, teach and write about researching in archives and records preservation. I love teaching others about archives research and the best practices in preserving your genealogy research.

Today, I would like to talk about organizing your genealogy research. Many of you will make New Year's Resolutions that will have something to do with organizing genealogy research and records. Many of you will decide to go totally digital, many of you will try to eliminate piles of papers and many of you have tons of photographs to scan and organize.

Houston County Highway Dept. Records Before Organization

In an archives, organization is very important and something I do on a daily basis as I process the records in my care. If I don't use the proper methods to process record collections, they won't be in a form that can be used by genealogy researchers. Also, using archival safe materials is essential to protecting and preserving original documents so they will be around for the next generations of genealogists to enjoy.

There are all kinds of ways to organize your genealogy research, I will leave the method you choose up to you. I would like to give you three tips to help the organization go more smoothly and hopefully help you to not become overwhelmed during the process:

Choose an Organization Method that Works for You and be Consistent

It's true, there are many methods and ways to organize your genealogy research. You can talk to 10 people and get 10 different methods of organization. I always tell genealogists to figure out the method that works for you and just be consistent in implementing it. An organizational method that works for me may not work for you and that's okay! If you don't like the organization method you are using, most likely you won't stay very organized. So, find what works for you and be consistent in using it everyday.

One of the best books out there to help you organize your genealogy records Organize Your Genealogy: Strategies and Solutions for Every Researcher

Here are the links:

Kindle Version:

Take Small Bites

There is a saying that goes something like this "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time." This is also true for tackling the job of organizing genealogy research. Don't try to do it all in one day. You will get overwhelmed and discouraged if you try to take on too much at one time. In the archives, when I have a large records collection to process, I take it slow and steady. It might take me a few days or even a few weeks to complete the processing of a large records collection. I have one particular collection right now that has taken me a couple of months and I am still not done. The reason I take my time is because I want to process the collection properly so when genealogists want to use the records collection, it is organized and easy to find what they are looking for. So, don't try to organize everything as fast as possible. Take your time, you will be glad that you did.

Use Archival Materials

As an archivist, I can not emphasis this tip enough. I encourage everyone to use archival file folders, archival sheet protectors and archival boxes for all genealogical documents. Even if you have decided to go totally digital, I am sure there will be some original records that you will want to keep and preserving them should be at the top of your organizational list. Many of the documents we own as genealogists are one-of-a-kind and should be protected for future generations to enjoy.

Archival Materials Used in an Archives, Houston County, TN. Archives

The online archival material business are now advertising their 2019 catalogs. You can access their materials online or you can request that a catalog be mailed to you, here are links to their websites:

Online Archival Supply Stores:

Gaylord Archival

Hollinger Metal Edge

University Products

Light Impressions

Following these three tips as you organize your genealogy research will hopefully make the process more enjoyable and you won't get overwhelmed.

For the start of this New Year, I would like to encourage those that follow me and read my blog, writings and watch my webinars to contact me with your questions about researching in archives and preserving records. My email address is just to the right of this blog post at the end of the "About Me" section. I love talking to genealogists about the in's and out's of researching in archives and I love helping them get the right archival materials to preserve and protect their genealogy records, photographs, memorabilia and artifacts. So, please feel free to email me anytime!

Lastly, in 2022 I encourage everyone to seek out the thousands of archives, libraries, historical societies, genealogical societies, university libraries and archives and museums that hold genealogical records. More and more these repositories budgets are being cut because of non-use. We need to keep these facilities OPEN, so.....



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