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A Genealogist In The Archives: August 2017

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Free Download of Disaster Planning for the Genealogist!

Legacy Family Tree is offering my Legacy Quick Guide Disaster Planning for the Genealogist for FREE through Sunday, September 3, 2017!

Here is the official announcement!

FREE DOWNLOAD: Disaster Planning for the Genealogist

Given this past week’s events in Texas related to Hurricane Harvey, and as the storm makes its way through the American South this weekend, it is easy to feel helpless if you and your family are not directly impacted. In speaking with genealogy friends and colleagues, I don’t think there is any degree of separation from this disaster: we likely all know at least one person who has lost their home, their business and their possessions.
Besides contributing to various charities, gathering relief supplies and volunteering, here is something you can do for yourself: put together a disaster plan related to your genealogy and family history research.

Download this FREE GUIDE on Disaster Planning by Melissa Barker

Melissa Barker, aka The Archive Lady, knows all too well what can happen to important papers and artifacts as well as data when a disaster hits. Whether it is fire, flood or simply a computer failure, Melissa has created a guide at Legacy Family Tree entitled Disaster Planning for the Genealogist

Through a special arrangement with our friends at Legacy Family Tree, Melissa wants to make sure that every genealogist has access to this important information. That is why Disaster Planning for the Genealogist is available as a FREE DOWNLOAD starting Thursday, August 31st through Sunday, September 3rd, 2017. Click HERE to get your PDF copy now!

Please take a minute not to just download the guide, but please read it and seriously consider what would happen if you lost treasured family heirlooms or research data related to your genealogy. You can at least minimize damage from various disasters, if not prevent such damage all together.

So this weekend as you keep others in Texas in your thoughts and prayers, take a minute to do your homework and put together a disaster plan for your genealogy.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Preserving Genealogy Records by Preparing for a Disaster

This very week there are many in the United States that are experiencing Hurricane Harvey. This natural disaster has caused enormous damage to homes, businesses, schools and libraries. 

Whenever there is a disaster that destroys, I am reminded of how important it is to preserve our family records so they are not destroyed. We have lost so much in the past due to disasters....

On November 9, 1872, The Great Boston Fire started in a dry-goods warehouse that spread fast in windy weather, destroying nearly 800 buildings. Damage was estimated at more than $75 million dollars. The fire could be seen in the sky as far as 100 miles away.

Ruins after the Great Boston Fire of 1872

Disaster preparedness is something that every archive plans for and reviews on a yearly basis. If archives are preparing their facility and records for a disaster, shouldn't genealogists do the same?

I have long lamented that genealogists are also "home archivists". Most genealogists don't work as archivists but they do have some of the same responsibilities that archivists have, some are:

  • Collect original records
  • Collect original photographs
  • Receiving donated records (from family and distant, new found, cousins)
  • Organizing and preserving records

Would it not be important to preserve these original records and have a disaster plan in place in case the unthinkable happens? It would be difficult to explain an entire disaster plan in this blog post, so here is an example of a Disaster Preparedness Plan from the New York State Archives that you can use as a guide:

This plan describes the steps necessary to anticipate, prevent, plan for, and recover from a disaster affecting records in any format.

Houston County Lions Club Records Donation, Houston County, TN. Archives

Many of the steps in this plan are ones that the genealogist or "home archivist" can implement to protect and preserve original records, photographs and artifacts in their possession. The main idea is to be prepared and keep your records in a state of preparedness in case of a disaster.

None of us know when the next fire, tornado, earthquake or flood may happen to us or our home. But we can prepare and plan ahead to save and preserve our genealogical records.


I have written a BRAND NEW Legacy QuickGuide about this subject!

Disaster Planning for the Genealogist

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Archival Supplies

One question that I get asked all the time as an archivist is "Where can I buy archival supplies to preserve my records?"

I use archival supplies on a daily basis. I order our supplies from various archival supply stores depending on what the need is and the price.

Tools of the Trade, Houston County, TN. Archives

One important aspect of purchasing archival supplies is the fact that they can be pricey. For example, to order a box of archival file folders, the cost is approximately $30.00 for a box of 100. For a  box of non-archival file folders the price is substantially less at office supply stores.

The fact is, it is important to preserve our family documents in archival materials so they do not deteriorate or become damaged.

Lyle Family Records Collection, Houston County, TN. Archives

Many archival supply stores have an online website (see listing below) and you can also sign-up to receive emails when they have sales on their products. These stores even have "Free Shipping" days once or twice a year.

Almost all of these archival supply stores will send you a paper catalog. Some of us have a hard time finding what we are looking for on an online catalog, so why not get a paper catalog! When I get my catalog in the mail, it's like Christmas time and getting the Sears Christmas Wish Book Catalog!

Gaylord Archival 2017 Catalog

Our ancestor's records, photographs, ephemera and artifacts have lasted this long, why not put them in archival materials so they can last even longer!

Online Archival Supply Stores

Gaylord Archival

Hollinger Metal Edge

Light Impressions

University Products

Archival Methods



Check Out My Legacy Family Tree Presenter Page!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Genealogy Education

As many of you may know, I am a Certified Archives Manager working as an archivist at the Houston County, Tennessee Archives.

Before I became an archivist I was a very active genealogist and I have been actively researching my family history for the past 27 years.

Not only have I been doing my own genealogy research for the past 27 years but I have been a Professional Genealogist since 2004 helping other genealogists with their research in Tennessee records.

It is very important to me to keep up-to-date on the latest records and research that is coming to the genealogy community. I also love educating myself on aspects of genealogy research in other areas, new (to me) record sources and those record sources that are online or only found in archives. And let's not forget the new kid on the block, DNA!

Lyle Family Records Collection, Houston County, TN. Archives

One question that I get all the time is "Where do you find materials for continuing your genealogy education if you can't travel to hear speakers?".

One of the best places I can recommend to get webinars, quick guides and pure genealogy education is Legacy Family Tree. And right NOW they are having a SALE that lasts until Sunday, August 20, 2017!

Get the Legacy Family Tree Webinar 1-Year Subscription for $24.98, that is 50% off the regular price:

Get the Legacy Family Tree 9.0 Deluxe Software for ONLY $17.48, that is 50% off the regular price:

If you would like to check out my webinars and quick guides, here is the link to my presenter page:

You can also view or purchase all my webinars and quick guides here:

Don't miss this opportunity, the 50% sale ends August 20th!!

***Disclaimer: I am a Legacy Family Tree Webinar presenter, author of Legacy Quick Guides and an affiliate for Legacy Family Tree. If you purchase a subscription to the webinars or software, I will receive a small affiliate fee because of that purchase*** 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Where are the Moonshine Records?

Yes, you read that title correctly, "Where are the Moonshine Records?"

Working in an archive, in the South, one question I get A LOT is:

"Where are the Moonshine Records?"

Unfortunately, there may not be a set of records in an archive titled "Moonshine Records". But there are records that can be searched that can provide a genealogist with information about their ancestor and the part they played in the moonshine business.

Photo of police car full of moonshine, ca. 1962, Houston County, TN. Archives

Court Records:

Many times our moonshine ancestors got caught! When they were caught distilling moonshine, transporting moonshine or selling moonshine, they ended up in court. Searching local court records is a great place to find our moonshine ancestors. Moonshine was a criminal act and would have been heard in criminal court.

Local Police Records and Mug Shot Photographs:

Many of our local archives have been able to preserve old police records and mug shot records. Finding your moonshine ancestor on a police report detailing the incident would add to your ancestor's story. Finding a mug shot of that ancestor would be priceless! Unfortunately, these types of records are not a prevalent as court records but something to keep in mind when researching your moonshine relatives.

Photo of moonshine still, ca. 1959, Houston County, TN. Archives


If your ancestor was caught in the act by the police, it could have been big news in a small town! Searching newspapers for stories about the police catching local moonshiners may just be what you need to find your ancestor. Seems the police like to have their pictures taken with that trunk full of gallons of moonshine or with that discovered moonshine still and then it was published in the paper.

Oral Histories:

Many of our local archives have collections of oral histories by local residents. These oral histories usually include the persons recollections of the people, places and events that happened locally. It is quite possible the person who was being interviewed could have mentioned the "local moonshiners" of the area. Oral histories can be found as a typed interview transcript or as an audio or video recording of the person.

Oral histories on DVD, Houston County, TN. Archives

So, the next time you are faced with trying to find "Moonshine Records" for your ancestor, check out the local court records, newspapers, police records and oral histories. These records just might help you document your ancestor's moonshine antics!



Legacy Family Tree Webinar

Using Archives to Fill the Gaps in Your Ancestor's Timeline

Do you have gaps in your ancestor's timeline? Using archives and the records they hold can fill in those gaps. Learn about unique records that are found in archives that will help to tell your ancestor's story and add information to your ancestor's timeline.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Where Did Your Ancestor's Vote?

For the past few months I have been processing a wonderful collection of records in the Houston County, TN. Archives. They are the Houston County Election and Voting Records Collection.

Houston County Election and Voting Records Collection, in process

This collection of records contains some wonderful information about local, state and national elections and the records that were produced locally in Houston County. These records include voters lists, election results, Election Board Minutes, lists of poll workers, newspaper items and other miscellaneous records.

I had known about election records and the great resource they can be to place our ancestors in a time and place. But going through this collection showed me that it may be possible to also find the location where our ancestors walked in and voted.

Newspaper Clipping Notice of Precincts, ca. 1978, Houston County, TN. Archives

In many states, each county is divided up into districts, precincts or something similar. Each person was required to vote in their designated polling place. This practice is still carried out today during elections. Many times we can only find the district number but if we look a little further we might be able to find out the exact building they walked into and voted.

Maybe your ancestor's polling place was changed, like this newspaper clipping below indicates. Many of the local polling places were churches, schools, the local city hall or other well known buildings in the precinct. In Houston County, TN., one precinct where people voted was at Trotter's Store. This store was a local merchandise store but on election day played a big role.

Newspaper Clipping Notice Of Change of Voting Place, ca. 1982, Houston County, TN. Archives

Many of our wonderful archives have voting and election records. Some are more extensive than others but they all have something to offer. Most of the time, these types of records are processed and housed in the Manuscript Collections. Asking the archivist about these types of records is the best way to find out if they exist.

Voting and Election records are a great resource to find our ancestors and also locating where they voted.



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Family Gatherings: Dragging Genealogy Information Out of Your Family