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A Genealogist In The Archives: April 2017

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

National DNA Day 2017!

Today is the day!

April 25, 2017 is National DNA Day!

Thomas MacEntee's brand new website for National DNA Day will help us learn more about DNA testing, resources for DNA research and so much more, go check it out!

Also, some great books that have come out recently on DNA will help any genealogist find their way through the DNA lingo and what it all means to you.

Blaine T. Bettinger has published two new books in the past year that are a must have for any genealogist that has done their DNA:


Also, this one that he co-wrote with Debbie Parker Wayne:

So, celebrate the first ever National DNA 2017!



Legacy QuickGuide

Monday, April 24, 2017

Preservation Week 2017!

This week, April 23-29, 2017, is Preservation Week!

This event is an initiative of ALCTS, a division of the American Library Association. Visit the American Library Association's Preservation Week website at:

What can you as a genealogist do during preservation to extend the life of your most precious documents? Here are some tips:

  • Store genealogical and historical records in areas where the temperature and humidity do not fluctuate to extreme. Keeping records at a regular temperature and low humidity will prolong the life of genealogical records.
  •  Minimize handling of genealogy records. Digitizing as many records as possible will allow you to safely store the records and not handle them.
  • Store all records in archival safe document sleeves, file folders and boxes. 
  • Do not store records or display them in direct sunlight. The sunlight will fade any documents or photographs to the point they can not longer be read or seen.
 These are just a few tips to get you started with preserving your most precious genealogical and historical records. If we take the steps to preserve our records, out descendants will be very grateful.




Legacy QuickGuide

Scrap Paper and Orphan Documents in Archives 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Unprecedented Access to Legacy Family Tree Webinars!

On Monday, April 10, 2017, Legacy Family Tree Webinars announced they will be airing their 500th Webinar on Friday, April 14, 2017. They also announced that starting Friday, April 14, 2017 and extending through Sunday, April 16, 2017, they are going to unlock the membership key of the webinar library and allow FREE ACCESS to all 500 webinars!

This FREE access is the first time Legacy Family Tree Webinars has opened up all of it's webinars for FREE viewing. I encourage everyone to take advantage of this FREE viewing and watch as many webinars as you can!

You can read all about the history of Legacy Family Tree Webinars here:

Among the 500 webinars on their site, I have 6 very educational webinars about researching in archives and records preservation. They are:

Metal Paper Clips, Rubber Bands and Tape, OH MY!

Researching in Libraries and Archives: The Do's and Don'ts 

It's Not All Online: Researching in Archives 

Vertical Files: What Are They and How To Use Them 

Preserving Old Family Letters: Tips from an Archivist 

Scrapbooks: A Genealogist's Gold Mine 



Monday, April 10, 2017

Scrap Paper Found in Archives

How many of you have scrap paper in your genealogical records?

By that I mean, pieces of paper that have notes, numbers or other information jotted down by an ancestor that makes no sense to you, right now, but nevertheless is part of your genealogical records.

Maybe you have receipts, invoices or other scrap documents that you just can't figure out what they mean or how they fit into your family history.

Well, archives have the same type records and genealogists should be seeking them out.

Misc. Receipts, Houston County, TN. Archives

Most archives are known for their well organized and processed records that are in archival boxes and archival file folders. Most of the time, each document has a place in a larger collection of records that the archivist will catalog and index for their patrons.

But did you know that many of our archives have scrap paper that is discovered on a daily basis that doesn't belong to any particular records collection? Those records are kept too but they may be a little harder to locate in an archive.

So, how can you find genealogical scrap paper in archives? Here are some tips:

-Vertical File Collections: The best place to locate scrap paper. Many of the scrap pieces of paper that archives collect can be found in Vertical File Collections. Vertical Files are arranged by surname or subject name. If the scrap piece of paper has a surname on it or is related to a certain subject, they will be filed in Vertical Files.

Vertical File Drawer at Houston County, TN. Archives

-Manuscript Collections: Sometimes archivists will include scrap paper documents in a Manuscript Collection if they can determine the family or organization it belongs to. The scrap paper will be cataloged in the finding aid.

Irish Celebration Manuscript Collection, Houston County, TN. Archives

-Loose Records: If the scrap paper document has to do with a legal matter, like a court case or probate case, these are called "Loose Records". Archivists will put a folder at the beginning of a collection of Loose Records that will say "Misc. Documents" or "Orphan Documents" and place the scrap paper document in that file.

Misc. Documents Folder, Houston County, TN. Archives

Genealogists need to be aware of scrap paper as they do research in archives, historical societies, genealogical societies, libraries and museums. To anyone else these items may mean nothing but to you they may mean everything!




Metal Paper Clips, Rubber Bands and Tape, OH MY!

Monday, April 3, 2017

Why Your Research is Never Done

I have heard it from genealogists before:

"My research is done. I have checked everywhere and there are no more records that exist"

How I wish this statement could be true and we could come to the conclusion that "our research is done". The truth is, our research will never be done.

Our genealogy research will never be done as long as records are being discovered, like this story from the University of Rochester in New York.

"Trove of Susan B. Anthony Letters Found in Man's Barn"

Susan B. Anthony 1820-1906

The records found date from 1869-1880 and include a trove of letters from the famed Susan B. Anthony, among others.

Now, maybe your ancestor isn't Susan B. Anthony but maybe your ancestor is mentioned in her letters or in some of the other letters and documents found in this man's barn. The point is, there are records being found everywhere and all the time.

And what about those records that haven't been discovered yet?

What about those records sitting in someone's basement, attic or barn that will hopefully be discovered and turned over to an archive and then made available to the researching public?

There is so much more to be discovered! Don't be one of those that says your research is done! Maybe, just maybe, there will be a discovery that will include records for your ancestor!

Are you looking for a photograph of your ancestor?

Did you know recently there was a very large photograph collection donated to the Library of Congress?

"Library of Congress Acquires Massive Archive of Civil Rights Photos by Bob Adelman"

March on Washington

This photograph donation contains 575,000 images that include 50,000 prints and hundreds of thousands of negatives and slides.

The collection was donated by an anonymous donor to the Library of Congress which will make the entire collection available to the public.

And what about all those records at the archives, library, historical society, genealogical society, university archives or museum that are just sitting on the shelves?

As an archivist I know all too well the amount of original records sitting on archives shelves waiting to be processed. These records have not been microfilmed, digitized or even seen by the public. While archivists know about the records that sit on their shelves, they are doing all they can do to process each record collection as they have the time.

As a genealogist working as an archivist, I now know that my research will never be done. Not as long as there are records discoveries in barns and as long as archives still have records on their shelves that have not been processed.

You may have to wait but hopefully one day there will be a discovery made that includes records for your ancestor! Don't Give Up!




Metal Paper Clips, Rubber Bands and Tape, OH MY!

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