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A Genealogist In The Archives: August 2017

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?".

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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


Newspapers:

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!



REMEMBER: IT'S NOT ALL ONLINE, CONTACT OR VISIT AN ARCHIVE TODAY!



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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.


REMEMBER: IT'S NOT ALL ONLINE, CONTACT OR VISIT AN ARCHIVE TODAY!


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