The SS United States has been saved from the Scrapyard

This story isn’t genealogy-related but it does describe history. Besides, I think I think it is a wonderful turn of events.


The SS United States Conservancy announced Tuesday that it has received more than $600,000 in donations to keep the SS United States from being sold for scrap metal, after the nonprofit revealed in early October that it was running out of funding to maintain it and was exploring its sale.

Sony To End Sales of Betamax Tapes Next Year

betamax-1974Sony will finally end sales of its Betamax video tapes in March 2016. The firm revealed on its website that it will also stop shipping the Micro MV cassette used in video cameras. I don’t think this announcement will cause much panic amongst genealogists. I didn’t even know that Sony was still producing blank Betamax tapes. But it should cause all of us to stop and think for a minute or two.

The announcement only affects blank tapes that are to be recorded in the future. If you already have videos recorded on Betamax tapes, they probably can be played back for several more years, assuming you still have equipment that can play Betamax tapes. But let’s think for a moment about all information, whether it is recorded on Betamax, digital media, microfilm, paper, or clay tablets. The bottom line is that nothing lasts forever.

NEH Announces Guidelines for 2016 NDNP Awards – Application Deadline: January 14, 2016

Do you know of a collection of old newspapers that should be digitized and placed online? The National Digital Newspaper Program may be able to financially help the effort. The following announcement was written by the folks at the Library of Congress:

The National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP) guidelines for 2016 are now available at The deadline for submitting proposals is January 14, 2016.

Preserving Audio Cylinders: From Edison to the Archeophone

This should put to bed the old wives’ tale of “you can’t save digital records because there won’t be any machines able to read it in the future.” The Library of Congress’ Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation continues to preserve more than 5 million sound recordings, films, and videos in order to ensure their survival and make them available for researcher access. These include some audio recordings made on brown wax cylinders in the mid-1880s.

Click on the above image to view a larger version

Click on the above image to view a larger version

You can read this interesting article in the Library of Congress Blog at

Flooding Threatens the New York Times’ Picture Archive

Here is a tip for archivists: don’t store valuable materials in a basement. Also, keep backups.

OK, that’s two tips but both of them seem to have been ignored by the folks at the New York Times.

A broken pipe sent water cascading into the morgue — the storage area where The Times keeps its immense collection of historical photos, along with newspaper clippings, microfilm records, books and other archival material — causing minor damage and raising significant alarm. Some are asking, “How can the company’s most precious physical assets and intellectual property be safely and reasonably stored?”

Video: How the Library of Congress Handles Wet Collections

It is every library’s and archive’s worst nightmare: a flood or burst water pipes soak the books and documents. Don’t wait until a disaster to know what to do. Instead, watch the video NOW on the Library of Congress’ Preservation Directorate home page showing how the Library handles wet collections.

Conservators with the Library’s Preservation Emergency Response Team explain and demonstrate how the Library of Congress prepares for and responds to emergencies that threaten or damage collections, in particular, for dealing with water-damaged collections. The video includes a brief description of the broad range of preservation activities undertaken by the Library’s Preservation Directorate.

Go to to view the video.

The Endangered Archives Programme

A service of the British Library, the Endangered Archives Programme now contains 5 million images of people’s memoirs and diaries from rural societies, paper archives, and photographs. Many of the items saved and digitized might never have been preserved otherwise.

Items preserved by the Endangered Archives Programme include:

Multiple Redundant Backup is the Best Way to Safeguard Your Photo Collection

I have written numerous times about families who lost their photo collections due to a disaster. That includes physical photographs as well as digital images. Yet when I read about the recent loss suffered by Oakland, California photographer Jennifer Little, I gasped.

Jennifer had 21 hard drives — containing some 70,000 photos spanning more than 10 years — stolen from her apartment. Gone. She had no other backups. Her multiple hard drives WERE her backups. Unfortunately, they all were kept at the same location and all disappeared at the same time. She had no off-site backups.

If You are Going to Make a Time Capsule, Make Sure it is Waterproof

The John F. Kennedy Peace Capsule was built by a crew at Defoe Shipbuilding Co. and buried by the Bay County (Michigan) Labor Council in 1965 as part of Bay City’s Centennial Celebration. Crews unearthed the capsule Wednesday and it was opened Thursday at the Bay County Fairgrounds. There was but one problem: it was half full of water. Some of the papers inside were destroyed although a few apparently remained above the waterline and are still readable.

You can read the details in an article by Pati LaLonde in the web site at Promises to Preserve Photos, Files 100 Years Beyond Your Death

Are you concerned about preserving your genealogy database and digitized family photographs for future generations? One company says it has the solution, using technology that will last much longer than paper, magnetic tapes, flash drives, or CD-ROM disks.

Forever_box_webGlen Meakem has launched, which Meakem says is the world’s first permanent online media storage and sharing service.

Forever claims to offer you one home for all your stories and special moments. The web site makes it easy to store, organize, share and print your family photos for generations. The web site also offers a “Forever Guarantee.”

Your Guaranteed Storage is backed up in multiple places across multiple regions, ensuring you will never lose any of your photos. Over time, will even migrate your files to newer formats as old formats become obsolete.

The Massachusetts State Archives is Running out of Room

The Massachusetts State Archives’ modern building, erected in 1986 with the expectation that it would exhaust its space within 25 years, is bursting at the seams. Officials say the two-story facility at Boston’s Columbia Point has simply run out of room to store the state’s most valuable and timeless records. Even worse, Massachusetts has received failing grades from government watchdogs who complain that public records requests are often must met with lengthy waits and exorbitant costs for the material.

New Storage Facility for the Australian National Archives to be the Last of its Kind

Construction has begun on the National Archives of Australia’s new preservation and storage facility at Mitchell. With enough shelving to stretch from Canberra to Cooma, the purpose-built repository will house around 10 million Commonwealth records when it opens in 2017. The 18,000 square-metre facility will include a conservation laboratory, digital archives for classified and unclassified records, cold storage areas and 114 kilometres (70 miles) of shelving.

The facility will maintain paper records at an ambient temperature of around 20 degrees Centigrade (68 degrees Fahrenheit) and around 50 per cent humidity

Irish American Family Saves Their Ancestors’ Pub in Ireland

What do you do when you inherit a run-down pub in Raphoe, County Donegal? Despite the advice of “Put a match to it all,” the McGranaghan family decided to restore the Tirconaill House and five small rundown houses around it.

18 American McGranaghan cousins and spouses traveled to Raphoe, County Donegal, and restored the buildings in an effort that would have made their grandparents proud. You can read the story by Michelle McGranaghan Pabon and see a number of pictures of the effort at

Preserving Memories for Decades to Come

Generally speaking, people take and share far more photos today than at any other point in history. It’s only natural to want to capture as many precious memories as possible. Digital content is fragile. Every computer user has experienced the sting of losing photographs due to changing phones, accidental deletion or a computer failure.

Millionaire Property Developer Used Children’s Gravestones to Build a Patio

Here is another “misuse of tombstones” story. You would think people would have more common sense than to desecrate graves.

Kim Davies took tombstones from a derelict chapel and cemented them to the walls of Llanwenarth House in Abergavenny, South Wales, where Cecil Frances Alexander penned the famous hymn. Planners were horrified when they saw the ‘decorative stone plaques’ had been used as part of a gaudy £1m makeover to the Grade II-listed home, turning it into a ‘palace for an Iron Curtain dictator’.

One of the 150-year-old gravestones was even engraved with the names of three brothers and a sister who all died while under the age of four.

Conservationists Preserve Tennessee Land Records

For decades, heaps of land records laid untouched in the state Capitol’s attic before being moved to the Tennessee State Library and Archives when it was built in the 1950s. Now workers there are preserving the documents that detail land ownership and exchanges as far back as 1779. Carol Roberts and Kat Trammell are delicately piecing together Tennessee history.

Roberts, the archives’ head conservationist, says the pieces of paper filled with hand-drawn sketches and detailed descriptions of property boundaries are dirty and fragile, with some left as brittle as dried leaves.

Monmouth County, New Jersey, County Clerk to Preserve Naturalization History

Monmouth County Clerk Christine Giordano Hanlon recently found a treasure trove of Monmouth County history when she came upon books documenting thousands of applications for naturalization that date back to the 1800s. The records of 34,677 applicants for naturalization to be moved to Archives, located in the Monmouth County Library Headquarters in Manalapan.

You can watch a YouTube video of the preservation process at or in the video player below:

How to Store Films and Documents on a Large Scale

If you want to store documents, microfilm, microfiche, movie films, or computer files, there is one place that can handle any size requirements you might have: Iron Mountain. Hidden away in the hills of rural Butler, Pennsylvania, Iron Mountain houses some of America’s most amazing, priceless treasures in a temperature-controlled and humidity-controlled underground storage facility.

Preserving and Digitizing Newspapers

Archivists using the latest conservation technology are racing to digitize 300 years of newspapers before they crumble to dust – and that’s just for starters. The Guardian has published a fascinating story about a huge project by a team from the British Library that is preserving newspapers. The article says:

A gigantic robotic vault, the National Newspaper Building in Boston Spa, near Leeds, is the British Library’s high-tech approach to safeguarding what it rather endearingly terms “the national memory” – 750m pages of news, covering more than three centuries of goings-on, as reported in papers across the nation. From political turmoil to humanitarian crisis, murder cases to local marriage notices, it’s all here. And it’s growing. “We’re adding something like 1,200 titles every week,” says Alasdair Bruce, manager of the British Library Newspaper Programme.

Preserve the Pensions July Initiative to Share a Document a Day

Here is a great idea from the several groups that are working to preserve, digitize, and make available online the War of 1812 pensions. I would hope every genealogist would help support this effort.

Welcome to July, 2015!

There is always so much to celebrate during the month of July. We spend time at family gatherings, picnics, and honoring our nation’s heritage. During the coming month, we are excited to celebrate our progress in the effort to digitally preserve the pension files from the War of 1812.

We have found some amazing material within the collection so far, and what better way to share it with our friends than in our Facebook group? We now have just over 1,000 people engaged in conversation, asking interesting questions, and assisting each other in their War of 1812 related research. Whether you are a genealogist, historian, or educator, we would invite you to be a part of that community.


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