Discussion: Preserving Electronic Diaries and Memorabilia

I got an interesting e-mail this morning and I thought I’d throw it out there for discussion. It brings up a very interesting and valid concern for all of us as we try to preserve the story of our families. Here’s what Jana had to say:

My adult children often say, “I’m blogging this!”  You know, we genealogists cherish old diaries, letters, family bibles, talking 8 mm film and photos and the like.  They all contain such useful information of a life lived.  I have old color slides and old video tapes that I need to digitize. 

But,  I wonder how we are going to incorporate e-mail, Facebook, My Space, Digg, the contents of iTunes or a MP3 player and countless other things, into our childrens’ growing electronic genealogy? Isn’t that part of their lives–“the Dash between the dates?” We need a magic, dynamic hyper-link!  

Let me give you an example. I have a daughter-in-law, a war widow from this current war, that blogged her courtship with her first husband–and so did he!  There was a gap of about two years, while she mourned, without any mention of his death in 2004 and then the blogging resumed when my middle son began dating her. It’s a part of her life, her recent past.  And for me, it is intertwined with my Family.  Not only is she my daughter-in-law, her late husband was my youngest son’s best friend–and my Grandson is named after him!  

Electronic records…it’s something to think about….and something that needs to be resolved.

Jana Wirch-Wright

So how are you preserving your family’s “electronic diaries” and memorabilia? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Please post your ideas in the comments section.

Weekly Planner: Preservation Check for Stored Records and Heirlooms

Summer is a time of extreme temperatures, and extremes are the last thing we want for our family history records, heirlooms, and memorabilia. Check your precious stashes of family history and make sure that they are in a stable environment and are not showing signs of damage from extreme temperatures, humidity, and other hazards. Periodic checkups can help you to stop deterioration before it’s too late.

The Basics of Archival Document Storage, by George G. Morgan

Many people are unsure about how to store the documents they have collected in the course of their genealogical quest. There are a number of considerations in selecting the right storage containers, binders, file folders, and the like. You also have to be aware that anything published on newsprint can spell disaster to documents stored in close proximity to it.

Most of the genealogical items you compile are paper-based materials. These include originals of letters, vital records, land and property records, books, diaries, journals, forms, and other documents. They also include photocopies you make when you visit libraries, archives, and courthouses. In order to ensure the longevity of these papers, you need to know about and recognize their natural enemies.

Original documents may or may not have been produced using archival-safe paper. Some paper products are manufactured using acids or chemicals which degrade or destroy the paper over time. Newsprint is a prime example of high-acid paper. It has been used in newspapers, telephone directories, and other short-term publications. Other materials it comes in contact with can discolor and/or decompose over time. If this paper comes in contact with other paper documents–even through the air–the other documents become “infected” and begin to discolor. Newsprint should be stored separately from other documents. An excellent solution is to make a photocopy of newsprint items and store the copy instead of the original. However, even photocopies may be a problem because not every photocopy paper is acid-free and archival-safe. Check the box or wrapper that the paper comes in; for these purposes, recycled paper is not a good choice.

Storage in cardboard is a definite no-no too. I learned this the hard way. I once purchased a beautiful signed and numbered print, “African Elephants,” by artist John Ruthven. It arrived in a stiff cardboard package. I set the print aside for a year or so before I decided to have it framed and matted. Imagine my horror when the framing gallery owner informed me that the print had been damaged and discolored by the cardboard in which the print had been shipped and stored. The print’s paper had already begun yellowing. Only through the application of a spray-on acid neutralizer and fixative was the damage halted. However, in the meantime, my expensive print had been so damaged that no other collector would ever want it. Continue reading

The English in Scotland, by Sherry Irvine, CG

20080623Rowallan.bmpA few months ago I wrote about the Irish in England. This article takes a look at the English in Scotland, a topic that receives little attention. However, in recent years, and from a modern perspective, academics and others in the UK are taking an interest. In 2001 the number of people living in Scotland who were born in England was at its highest level ever–more than 400,000, just above 8 percent of the population. These same numbers are reflected in the make-up of the elected members of the Scottish parliament, and it comes as a surprise to many that Scottish lawmakers are not all Scottish.
The English are the largest ethnic minority group in Scotland. They took over the number one position back in 1921, from the Irish. As for the Irish-born, their numbers were largest in 1881 at 218,745. In 2001 they had fallen to only 21,774. Keep in mind these numbers relate to birthplace and not to what people state as their ethnic origin.

Numbers and politics are interesting but it is the history that fascinates me and it should also be of interest to anyone researching in Scotland. Some of your assumptions about the depth of your Scottish roots could be wrong. In the past 200 years, more than 1 million English have moved north of the border to what was once referred to as North Britain.

Not many of those migrants were wealthy people looking for fishing and hunting retreats. They were laborers, the skilled and unskilled–riveters, framework knitters, and domestic servants, to describe a few. It was the Industrial Revolution that speeded up the flow of people northward. Workers went to Glasgow and the Clyde for the ship building and to border towns such as Hawick where the woolen and hosiery industries were growing. Numbers of English-born workers were highest in the border counties. Continue reading

Tips from the Pros: Preparing for Courthouse Visits, by Jana Sloan Broglin, CG

Summertime means vacations and research trips. Are you one of the many hitting the courthouses this year? If so, there are a few things to remember before loading all your research into the car or van.

First: Exactly what courthouse do you need? Check books such as the Red Book, Everton’s Handy Book for Genealogists, or Family Tree’s Resource Book for Genealogists to find out if your courthouse even existed during your research timeframe. Yep, counties had parents too, so you may need to go to the parent courthouse. As an example, I was on a research trip to southern Ohio. Knowing that Ross County was formed before Madison and Franklin counties, helped me plan my trip as I wanted to go to the oldest of the counties first.

Second: What are the courthouse hours? Small counties may actually have restricted hours, so it’s wise to call ahead. Also find out if all the records are stored “onsite” or “offsite.” If the early records you need are stored “offsite” in an area closed to the public, you may need to request the items prior to the courthouse visit. It’s also a good idea to find out the photocopy costs.

Third: Plan your research. What records do you need to use? List the items you need to find in the courthouse. Don’t forget to allow time to visit the local genealogical society or historical society, as well as the library. Continue reading

Your Quick Tips, 23 June 2008

More on Catholic Given Names
When our daughter was baptized in 1962 we told the priest that we had named her Karen Marie. The pastor said that Karen is derived from the name Catherine, and Marie is derived from Mary. Then he further commented that since Mary is the mother of God her name had to come first. So Karen Marie is stated as Mary Catherine on her baptismal certificate, but has never gone by either of those names. If you were looking at her baptismal certificate and trying to find her by that name, you never would.

Louise Continue reading

The Year Was 1828

Sequoyah.bmpThe year was 1828 and in the United States, it was an election year. Following Andrew Jackson’s loss to John Quincy Adams in 1824, the presidential campaign for 1828 began as soon as Adams took office in 1825 and lasted the entire length of his presidency. In 1824, neither candidate won a majority of electoral votes, so the election was decided in the House of Representatives. With support of House Speaker Henry Clay, Adams won and promptly named Clay his Secretary of State. This raised a public outcry that a “corrupt bargain” had tainted the election and kicked off the 1828 election very early. 

The campaigning on both sides was vicious and filled with personal attacks. Improved communication with the public through newspapers and events aimed at getting out the vote captured the attention of the American public. In fact, the number of voters in 1828 tripled that of the election of 1824.

One of the major issues at stake in the election of 1828 was that of Indian removal. In 1828, the Cherokees were proving proficient at a more agrarian style of living, farming and raising cattle. Schools were set up and Sequoyah invented a written version of the Cherokee language called “Talking Leaves.” In February of 1828 the Cherokee Phoenix became the first Native American newspaper to be published. But there was a demand for their land and the election of Andrew Jackson spelled disaster for the Cherokees and their Native American counterparts.

In the still young and fast-growing country, there was also the need for improved means of transportation, and on the Fourth of July ceremonies were held to break ground for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. When the railroad first took passengers, it was powered by horses. It wasn’t until August of 1830, that the line would begin its conversion to steam.

On that same day in Little Falls, Maryland, outgoing President John Quincy Adams broke ground on the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal. Construction on this route wouldn’t be completed until 1850 when it reached Cumberland, Maryland.

The Delaware & Hudson Canal opened for business in 1828 and provided a route for coal to be delivered from Pennsylvania coal fields to the port of New York via the Hudson River. The canal extended 108 miles from Honesdale, Pennsylvania to Kingston, New York.

Smallpox was reported in the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. On 12 November 1828, The Adams Centinel (Gettysburg, Pa.) reported that “at least four human beings [had] fallen victim to this scourge of our race, and from 20 to 30 others are infected with the disease.” The article goes on to encourage vaccinations, particularly to those exposed to the disease, and it appears that quite a few people heeded this advice. In the 3 December issue of that same newspaper, it was reported that “no less than 3,000 persons have been vaccinated within the past three weeks” and that “the Small Pox has been checked.”
Across the ocean in London, the London Zoological Society opened the doors to its new zoo. The zoo wasn’t intended as a way to display animals to the public but to learn ways of domesticating foreign animals. In fact, the zoo wasn’t open to the public for the first three years; visitors were invited by society members. Nonetheless, 112,226 visitors managed to get in to get a peek at the exotic animals during that first year.

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Photo Corner, 23 June 2008

James T. KingContributed by Annette King Davis.
This is a picture of my father James T. King, Sr. on the left hand side of the picture. He was born July 5, 1927 in Bradenton, Fl. Parents: Robert William King and Clifford Harvey King.

Click on an image to enlarge it.

Elsie Jones, Liverpool, EnglandContributed by Ann Jones
This is a photograph is of my mother, Elsie Jones of Liverpool England. She was born was 1916 and died in 1989.