Tag Archives: artifacts

Box Adventures: Sorting and Planning

Box Adventures_ Sorting and Planning

Ok, so I’ve unpacked my box. It was jam-packed full of treasures that will take me months to sort through. I’m excited. So what to do first? Honestly, I have no idea…but here is what my preliminary plan is.

Step 1: Sort into types of items

Largely, there are photographs here. Some of them, I know I already have digital copies of from a time back when I was allowed to scan them, but not keep them (before the downsizing). There are also newspaper clippings as well as full newspapers. I will need to figure out why that newspaper was kept and perhaps clip out the important part (keeping the title, date, page, column for the citation, of course). There are large family reunion photo prints that have been rolled up. There are envelopes with who knows what inside. So sorting is my current project.

Step 2: Decide how to preserve each type of item

I could scan, photograph, frame, clip, store in archival boxes, and so on. Each item is going to have a different solution. Determining that solution will be next and I’ll tackle each item separately. For example, I probably don’t need to keep the actual newspaper or clipping if I get a good scan of them. Newsprint is terribly acidic and doesn’t hold up well over time. But if I make a scan and print on archival paper, it might last longer. Making each of these determinations is going to vary.

Step 3: Do the task set forth in step 2 for each item

This step could take months. The process of scanning and putting the item into whatever the final form will be is going to be lengthy. And I think one I can hire my teenaged daughter to help with since she’s home right now.

Step 4: Catalog each item

Putting the information into my family tree software, the digital image stored in my digital filing system, and a copy stored in my binder system will likely come at the end. And this is going to be the fun part! My initial thought is that my daughter can scan the item and name them in a pre-determined format then put them in a dropbox folder we share. Then one-by-one I can go through them and put them in their appropriate places. It is during this step that I will also craft the citations for each item.

Up next…getting into the sorting. I hope my daughter is ready!

Go to an Archive!

I had the absolute pleasure and surprise of being invited to visit the Special Collections at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas. The archivist, Megan Firestone, found my name on a list of researchers and invited me up…and of course I accepted! She is an absolute gem and I’m so glad I visited.

I received a lovely tour of the reading room and a peek into some of the backrooms!

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This week I visited again with a goal in mind. I asked if they had any old scrapbooks or autograph books. I was not disappointed. After looking at the finding aids and emailing with Megan to decide on what I’d like to see, I made another visit to the archive where they had a large cart of items waiting for me.

I will share a few exciting things here:

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Natha Pritchett Scrapbook
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Inside Natha’s scrapbook
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Lunch pail

I saw so many cool and interesting items. More than I can really share in one post. I will likely highlight some other items in future posts.

I really want to encourage genealogists to visit an archive near you. You do not need to have a research project in mind. Check their website for a catalog or finding aid. Find a topic of interest to you, whatever it might be. Communicate with the archivist, as they might know of items that haven’t been cataloged yet. But go and look at these lovely original treasures.

There is nothing like looking at old letters, scrapbooks, and ephemera that delves into a person’s life in much more detail than a vital record or census enumeration. You get a sense of people’s personalities and some really specific details about their lives. Of course, the trick is finding the items, boxes, and papers that apply to your family, but I believe your research experience can be enhanced by looking at any item in the archive. Rather than looking for a person, search by topic, such as scrapbooks, farming, women’s issues, and so on. Give it a try.

Get out there!