03 October 2016

Amazing Archives Search Resource: ArchiveGrid

There are so many wonderful repositories that hold primary material; material that you'd otherwise might never get to see or use in your research. One of my favorite ways to track down new information is by looking for Archives in the area where I'm doing research. One of my go-to resources is ArchiveGrid, a site hosted by the phenomenal WorldCat.

ArchiveGrid looks like this:

The beauty is that you don't have to know exactly where to look; they have search options for both "location or zip" and dropdown menus by State. As you can see, they also include a section with the latest additions and information about the site.

So, if you haven't checked it out yet, why not poke around during American Archives Month?

01 October 2016

October is American Archives (and Family History) Month!!

Wait...What?! She's writing a blog post? Yes, I'm writing posts this month. Life has kept me so very busy that I haven't done any genealogical research for the last six months or so. I DID help a prospective DAR member with her application, which was quite the endeavor, but in the end we got her application approved and she's now a member.

I thought I would take this opportunity to share my work with those who aren't familiar with it. I'm a professional, consulting, Archivist. I've been an Archivist for about 13 years, and it has been the longest running 'career' that I've had. My work is varied, fascinating and has enriched my life in ways I would have never dreamed possible. An Archivist's job is to protect the information held in the material over which we are the stewards.

Slides received for processing
 An Archivist is the steward of unique materials of enduring value. In layman's terms, we take care of old stuff. Old stuff that can't be found elsewhere. Material that is unique and irreplaceable. That material can be anything from photographs to letters: things on paper. However, an Archives can hold other things as well; for instance when I was working at Shure, Inc. there were at least two copies of each microphone they'd ever produced. There are microphones used by famous people and not so famous people. Depends on your perspective. <grin>

As stewards of this material, an Archivist needs to understand about the composition of the materials to ensure the environment in which they are housed is conducive to its longevity. So, making sure that things like newspaper, which is very acidic, aren't housed with other paper is a key aspect of our work. We need to have a great grasp of basic chemistry: the composition of paper, ink, glues, etc. so that the materials can be stabilized to prevent deterioration. Ensuring that photographic materials are housed properly to avoid fading, warping and loss of image is equally important. 

Slides being processed: organized & described
The Society of American Archivists are having a number of events this month to highlight the importance of Archives. I hope you'll check them out or follow along here as I share some of what I use in my work.

Have a great day and a fabulous Family History Month!!

15 February 2016

Motivation Monday - Connections, Skills, Cousins and...?

What’s not to love about a Monday celebrating the Presidents of our Great Country? Even though it’s REALLY cold and I have to go to work, it’s still a great day. I woke up on the right side of the dirt. Heh.

I have been really fortunate to be working on a number of genealogical projects that have kept my “recreational” writing to a minimum. But, I decided that there’s nothing stopping me from writing a short post about what keeps me motivated in the genealogical process:

1) Connecting with great new people. This, for me, is what keeps me going. I work alone and often spend my non-work time alone, so meeting new people, virtually, makes me happy. Whether I’m helping them, they’re helping me or we’re collaborating, it’s fun to work with others to move our research forward. If you haven't thought about attending a conference, please do...it's a great way to get connected! Great place to start is at FGS's Conference.

2) Enhancing my own skill sets. I find it remarkable that each time I work on someone else’s genea-challenges, I uncover another skill set. As an example, in the last few weeks I worked with original Land Records that included information that should have been in Court records but was recorded in the Land Records instead. This made me review how I look at land records and how much material they can provide when doing research. I volunteer for the Fox Valley Genealogical Society as a research assistant once a month and I'm finding helping my DAR sisters with their HWs leads to some really interesting challenges!

3) Sharing my love of the preservation of our history. Seems like each time I discuss research with someone, the physical material comes up in the conversation as well. I’m now assisting a local small cemetery to determine how best to preserve headstones from burials in the mid-1800s, some of whom were born in the 18th Century. I’m going to be working to get an RFP from companies that specialize in historic cemeteries, and will be doing some of the work alongside them. I also love speaking to audiences about it; I’ll be presenting a few times this year, including next week in Naperville, Illinois.

4) Meeting new cousins! I have two such connections that happened in the past week; one on Dad’s side and one on Mom’s side. Not sure how well the BEIGHTLER connection is going to play out; we had a nice back and forth, but I think they may not be happy that our family name is not spelled BIEGHLER, how their ancestor spelled it. Unfortunately, if you use Name Thesaurus, there are 296 variations on that spelling and the iterations in our part of the family are BIGLER, BEIGHLER, and BEIGHTLER. As for Mom’s side, I was really happy to find a photograph posted in Ancestry that turns out to be the 3rd cousin of my Mom, part of her WAGNER ancestors from France! Super excited that the cousin is also excited to know about the detailed work I’ve done on this line, and that I will be able to add another branch in that line.

These are the things that motivate me. What motivates YOU?