Lewes, Delaware, Historical Society is Building a Database of Tombstones and Supporting Documents

Lots of societies are creating databases of local tombstones and, of course, we have the huge international tombstone databases at and However, one local society is documenting tombstones and a lot more.

The Lewes Historical Society spend several years creating a a database of about 8,500 graves in Lewes & Rehoboth Hundred, Sussex County, Delaware, each with a GPS location to pinpoint not only where a grave can be found, but also where within a cemetery a grave is located. The project is now moving into a new phase, as the historical society is building a new website that will connect the graves to photographs, letters and other artifacts about the individuals in the society’s collection.

Vanderburgh County, Indiana, Records from the Early 1800s Found

A recent discovery by an archivist at the Vanderburgh County Clerk’s office has found a way to tie the past 198 years together. While hunting down records to fulfill a citizen’s request, the archivist found two tin boxes stuffed with a series of records dating back to the months that followed the county’s formation in January 1818. Amber Gowen, an archivist at the county clerk’s office, found them completely by accident.

The Vanderburgh County Historical Society has donated money to help with preserving the newly-discovered records. The money will go toward the purchase of specialized archival materials, including acid-free folders and containers. Gowen hopes future grants will help with digitizing the records.

You can read more and watch a video of the records at the TriState Homepage web site at

Personal Digital Archiving – a Report from the Digital Preservation Coalition

DPC-logoA new report from the Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC) should be interesting reading for any genealogist who is interested in making sure his or her digital records are preserved and made available to future generations. In fact, if properly cared for, digital information should last for centuries. The DPC has released a free peer-reviewed report aimed at individuals who are concerned about how best to manage and preserve their own personal digital archives, as well as professionals who advise people on how to select and best preserve such digital content.

The contents of a personal digital archive might include:

  • email and letters
  • websites and blogs
  • diaries, recipes, and other writings
  • drawings and other art
  • photographs (from digital cameras, smart phones) and photo albums
  • music, video, and voice recordings
  • social media output
  • Internet search histories
  • text messages, instant messages
  • contact lists and calendars
  • spreadsheets, presentations, and databases
  • personal records created online or received digitally (bank statements, bills, taxes, home inspection reports, deeds)
  • medical records
  • mementos (digitized versions of physical items)
  • unexpected items – anything is possible!

Northeast Historic Film Offers 10,000 Hours of Film and Video‎

Northeast Historic Film in Bucksport, Maine, can be an excellent online resource for anyone with New England ancestry. The nonprofit archives is dedicated to collecting, preserving and sharing northern New England’s moving image heritage. The organization owns a three-story vault with 10 million+ feet of film, a public study center, a 140-seat theater, and it enjoys the support of 400+ members. While you may not find a film of your ancestors, you undoubtedly will have an opportunity to view the lifestyles and perhaps the area in which they lived.

Another excellent service of Northeast Historic Film (NHF) is the preservation of home movies. Without cold storage at low humidity, the film in your basement or attic cracks, rots, and fades, and part of New England’s history is lost. NHF staff members have the skills and tools to preserve your valued moving images.

Don’t Use QR Codes on Tombstones!

static_qr_code_without_logoI had an experience a while ago that got me thinking about today’s tombstone technology and what it might be like in the future. A company that shall remain nameless asked that I write about the company’s product: long-lasting display plates containing QR codes. The company’s products can be attached by adhesive, either to a tombstone (which I am strongly against) or to an urn, marker, or other nearby object that can be inserted into the ground near the tombstone. (I can live with that second idea.)

NOTE: For an explanation of QR codes, see

The second part of the company’s product occurs when a future visitor to a cemetery uses a QR code reader in an Apple iPhone, Android phone, or similar mobile device to read the QR code. That person would use the device’s wireless wi-fi or cellular data Internet connection to display an associated web page that is stored on a web server someplace. This product requires the QR code to point to the dedicated web page on the company’s web server. Each QR code points to a different page on the server, and each page contains information supplied by the family that purchased the QR code display plate. That tribute page could either display information directly or redirect the visitor to another web site, such as a charity of the family’s choice or a family tree posted on some other web site.

Sequoia Genealogical Society to Digitize News Microfilm

An article in the Visalia Times-Delta describes a project that is becoming popular amongst genealogy societies. The Sequoia (California) Genealogical Society is digitizing scores Tulare newspapers dating back more than a hundred years. The collection is on 55 reels of microfilm, containing images of newspapers extending from 1882 to 1922. It’s the oldest microfilm and most fragile.

It’s a good resource for the community. We want to keep it usable,” said Lorene Clark, president of the society. “As the microfilm gets old, they start breaking down.”

Family Robbed of Centuries of Personal History Saved in a Special Book

A Fresno, California, family lost one of their most prized possessions after someone burglarized their home. Amongst other items, the thieves stole a handmade leather bound genealogy book that contains the family’s genealogy dating back to the 13th century.

You can read the sad story and watch a video in the YourCentralValley web site at

Question: If you have a one-of-a-kind genealogy book or any other valuable family possessions, have you made multiple photocopies or scanned and made multiple digital copies and then stored the copies in different locations?

In this New Years’ week, it is appropriate to make new resolutions. Perhaps this year’s resolution is to make copies of your most valuable books, papers, and anything else that can be scanned or photocopied. Then store the copies someplace other than in your home.

Texas Genealogy Organizations Seek Help Digitizing Old Records

The Cross Timbers Genealogical Society of Gainesville, Texas, and the Lake Kiowa Genealogical Group are exploring a proposal with to preserve Cooke County family history records of genealogical value. Under the proposal, will provide training and equipment to digitize local records while Cross Timbers and Lake Kiowa will provide volunteers along with any local citizens who would like to participate.

The groups are seeking “privately held genealogically valuable records unique to Cooke County such as the genealogical pages of a family Bible which lists the marriages, deaths, and births of the family.” The group is also interested in letters between family members during historically significant time periods such as the Great Depression of the 1930s and World Wars I and II.

Details may be found at

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