Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Day in the Archives

I love my job! I've worked part-time as an assistant archivist in the Friends Historical Collection since January. There have been a variety of tasks to do — from genealogical look-ups to transcribing old handwriting to inventorying old meeting minutes (church records) for an scanning project. Here's what I did Tuesday.

First I emptied the dehumidifiers in the "vault" or stacks. It makes me nervous to carry a container full of about two gallons of water (that's half a day of our humid North Carolina air) past old records and paintings, so I walk very, very carefully.

I continued checking a typescript of Isham Cox's journal. We're preparing documents like this to put online. Not only did I get to use my picky copyediting skills, I also got to read the whole journal, which started in 1865. Cox made many trips around North Carolina and Virginia to help Quaker men who had been conscripted (drafted), and then imprisoned for refusing to fight. I enjoyed the language almost as much as the stories. For example, Cox used nominative "thou" (not "thee") in his letters, as many Quakers still did, and called a train "the Cars."

Then I pulled on some gloves and unfolded a quilt that was made circa 1938. Each square was stitched with a pattern of names, several recognizably from the Greensboro area. I laid the quilt out on one of the research tables and stood on a step-stool to photograph each square. Then my coworker and a docent held the quilt up in the hallway so I could take a picture of the whole thing.

A package of minutes had arrived from one of the meetings in North Carolina. I opened up the database and entered the dates, then typed the name and address into a form letter to send back as a receipt. I placed the papers in an archival folder and labeled it, ready to file in the vault when I return in the morning.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Day the World Changed

I didn't want to jump into the September 11 hype. As a matter of fact, I couldn't watch much of it on TV back when it happened. I missed a lot of the painful details back then because I couldn't stand the constant replaying of the same scenes over and over. I would just cut off the TV and get my news from coworkers and friends. But it has been 10 years, and I appreciate the posts, mentions, and events that honor those who were lost or involved and the memories that connect us all.

After reading other blogs and Facebook posts all day, I saw that Rachelle Gardner had offered a place on her blog for memories in 100 words or less. I decided to add my condensed memory to the mix, after reading all 77 of the other memories. And as a writer, I need to write down my view of what happened that day. I've put it off long enough.

I was driving off a Navy base, 2 hours from the Pentagon, for a car appointment when I heard about the second plane on the radio. As I watched the news at the auto shop, I prayed, “Don’t evacuate.” Thousands of people worked on the base, on a peninsula with one road out. But we thought we were next – they evacuated. I didn’t want to be a sitting duck in all that traffic, so I met a friend and we stayed in a restaurant all afternoon. Two days later we heard from a coworker who survived at the Pentagon.

Without the word limit, I would add one more thing. That base had a lot of civilians on it, and we were evacuated. Our military coworkers stayed. They were suddenly on duty round the clock, flying over our heads to protect us all in the weeks to come.

Genealogy Life - 104 things

Thanks to Sheri at The Educated Genealogist for this meme. The items in bold green are things I've already done, italic red items are things I want to do but haven't yet, and black are things I don't care about (or don't know much about yet).

I changed no. 100 from an Indiana library to something I really want to do, and added no. 104. A few of the items would have turned green if they didn't say "with the internet" or "online." The internet is a wonderful resource, but I started researching my family 20 years ago, when that resource wasn't widely available. I like to travel, and I still find the best clues by using the internet for prep, then visiting places in person whenever possible.

104 Genealogy Things  

1. Belong to a genealogical society
2. Joined a group on Genealogy Wise.
3. Transcribed records.
4. Uploaded headstone pictures to Find-A-Grave or a similar site
5. Documented ancestors for four generations (self, parents, grandparents, great-grandparents)
6. Joined Facebook.
7. Cleaned up a run-down cemetery.
8. Joined the GeneaBloggers Group.
9. Attended a genealogy conference.
10. Lectured at a genealogy conference.
11. Spoke on a genealogy topic at a local genealogy society/local library’s family history group.
12. Joined the National Genealogical Society.
13. Contributed to a genealogy society publication.
14. Served on the board or as an officer of a genealogy society.
15. Got lost on the way to a cemetery (I failed to find one cemetery, but I always knew where I was).
16. Talked to dead ancestors.
17. Researched outside the state in which I live.
18. Knocked on the door of an ancestral home and visited with the current occupants.
19. Cold called a distant relative.
20. Posted messages on a surname message board.
21. Uploaded a gedcom file to the internet.
22. Googled my name (and those of ancestors)
23. Performed a random act of genealogical kindness.
24. Researched a non-related family, just for the fun of it.
25. Have been paid to do genealogical research.
26. Earn a living (majority of income) from genealogical research (As a freelancer, no. As an archivist, yes).
27. Wrote a letter (or email) to a previously unknown relative (not sure, I may have done this years ago).
28. Contributed to one of the genealogy carnivals.
29. Responded to messages on a message board.
30. Was injured while on a genealogy excursion (thankfully not, but my pants took a beating from climbing over cemetery gates!).
31. Participated in a genealogy meme.
32. Created family history gift items.
33. Performed a record lookup.
34. Took a genealogy seminar cruise.
35. Am convinced that a relative must have arrived here from outer space.
36. Found a disturbing family secret.
37. Combined genealogy with crafts (family picture quilt, scrapbooking).
38. Think genealogy is a passion and/or obsession not a hobby.
39. Assisted finding next of kin for a deceased person.
40. Taught someone else how to find their roots.
41. Lost valuable genealogy data due to a computer crash or hard drive failure.
42. Been overwhelmed by available genealogy technology.
43. Know a cousin of the 4th degree or higher.
44. Disproved a family myth through research.
45. Got a family member to let you copy photos.
46. Used a digital camera to “copy” photos or records.
47. Translated a record from a foreign language.
48. Found an immigrant ancestor’s passenger arrival record.
49. Looked at census records on microfilm, not on the computer.
50. Used microfiche.
51. Visited the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.
52. Used Google+ for genealogy.
53. Visited a church or place of worship of one of your ancestors.
54. Taught a class in genealogy.
55. Traced ancestors back to the 18th Century.
56. Traced ancestors back to the 17th Century.
57. Traced ancestors back to the 16th Century.
58. Can name all of your great-great-grandparents (not without looking at my records).
59. Know how to determine a soundex code without the help of a computer.
60. Have found many relevant and unexpected articles on internet to “put flesh on the bones” (I've found them in other places).
61. Own a copy of Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills.
62. Helped someone find an ancestor using records you had never used for your own research.
63. Visited the main National Archives building in Washington, DC.
64. Have an ancestor who came to America as an indentured servant (yes, but no proof yet).
65. Have an ancestor who fought in the Revolutionary War, War of 1812 or Civil War (looking for proof).
66. Taken a photograph of an ancestor’s tombstone.
67. Can “read” a church record in Latin.
68. Have an ancestor who changed his/her name, just enough to be confusing.
69. Joined a Rootsweb mailing list.
70. Created a family website.
71. Have a genealogy blog.
72. Was overwhelmed by the amount of family information received from someone.
73. Have broken through at least one brick wall.
74. Done genealogy research at a court house.
75. Borrowed microfilm from the Family History Library
76. Found an ancestor in an online newspaper archive (not online, but I've found on microfilms).
77. Have visited a NARA branch.
78. Have an ancestor who served in WWI or WWII (uncles, but not direct).
79. Use maps in my genealogy research.
80. Have a blacksheep ancestor.
81. Found a bigamist amongst my ancestors (still trying to prove).
82. Attended a genealogical institute.
83. Taken online genealogy (and local history) courses (again, not online).
84. Consistently (document) and cite my sources.
85. Visited a foreign country (i.e. one I don’t live in) in search of ancestors.
86. Can locate any document in my research files within a few minutes.
87. Have an ancestor who was married four times (trying to prove).
88. Made a rubbing of an ancestor’s gravestone.
89. Followed genealogists on Twitter.
90. Published a family history book (but I've published a book of indexed records).
91. Offended a family member with my research.
92. Reunited someone with precious family photos or artifacts (sweet!).
93. Have a paid subscription to a genealogy database.
94. Submitted articles for FamilySearch Wiki.
95. Organized a family reunion.
96. Converted someone new to the love of all things genealogy.
97. Have done the genealogy happy dance.
98. Visited the DAR Library in Washington D.C.
99. Have done indexing for Family Search Indexing or another genealogy project.
100. Visited the Haverford and Swarthmore Quaker collections in Pennsylvania (maybe spring 2012!).

101. Had an amazing serendipitous find of the "Psychic Roots" variety.
102. Visited the Library of Congress.
103. Belong to a lineage society
104. Visited a living history museum or participated in a re-enactment to get insight into an ancestor's life.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Getting ready for Bush Hill

It's time, again, for our annual Bush Hill Heritage Festival. This is our local street festival, which started as the bicentennial celebration of our little Quaker village, Bush Hill, which later became Archdale. The past few years I've worn several "hats" at the festival, but primarily worked in the booth of my employer, the Archdale-Trinity News. This year is my first as a bookshop owner, and I'm hoping to get some traffic from the crowds. My shop isn't right on the street, but it's less than a block away and I'm sure festival-goers will use our parking lot.

Through the years, the festival has incorporated different events to celebrate history, but I don't know of any going on this year except the quilt show over at the Hammond-Ragan house. So I'm bringing out all the local history I can find for the bookshop this month.

First, I got Quaker notecards and postcards, plus a newly published book of first-hand recollections about the Civil War and Reconstruction by Mary Mendenhall Hobbs, who lived in New Garden (Greensboro) during that time.

This morning I picked up several publications from the Randolph County Genealogical Society to sell on commission. They include an 1894 Business Directory, Early Randolph County Marriages, Cemetery Records (New Market and Trinity townships), and an 1820 tax list.

I already had a few Friends meeting histories, Quaker books and a High Point history. This afternoon, someone brought in High Point Trivia and an Archdale history — perfect! I started to put them both out, but realized the Archdale history is a hard-to-find first edition, so I'll need to research it first (or maybe keep it...).

I laid the books out on an old quilt that belonged to my mom.

My cousin and her husband helped me move some things between the shop and home (Thank you!). For the final touch, I put my circa-1816 spinning wheel in the store window.

(not the best photo, but in case I don't get around to posting a better one)
I came home, made something for our bake sale at the meeting house (another "hat"), and now I'm ready for some sleep. The excitement begins in just a few hours!