Preservation

The Largest Private Historical Archive in the USA of 4.5 Million Photos, Drawings, Engravings and More is For Sale

I doubt if many private individuals can afford this but a genealogy society, historical society, or perhaps a company that offers historical information on the World Wide Web might be very interested. The historical D. Jay Culver collection, valued at $163.2 million, is offered for $15 million.

According to the announcement from the company handling the sale:

“This unique collection, including more than 4.5 million photographs, plates, line drawings, prints, engravings, playbills and other historical art, delivers a solid opportunity for substantial estimated return on investment. For example, the value of less than one percent of the collection exceeds the asking price of $15 million.

How to Protect Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Your family’s Documents from the Ravages of Climate Change

I will suggest that a story by Sophie Yeo in the PacificStandard web site should be required reading by archivists, librarians, genealogists, government officials, and anyone else who cares about preserving old paper documents. She writes, “Almost all American archives are at risk from disasters or changing temperatures. Community history will probably be the first to go.”

She also writes:

“This history, in the form of manuscripts, codices, printed books, and other material artifacts, is kept in expensive and well-ventilated university collections; it is tucked in crumpling cardboard boxes under the desks of local librarians; it sits crammed into the storage cupboards of city governments. Some documents attract scholars from around the world, while others hold scant interest beyond hobbyist historians. Many are irreplaceable.

Has Your Family an Interesting Irish Emigration Story to Share?

From The Irish Times web site:

“Have you got an interesting migration story to share, or an object that tells the tale of your family’s move from one country to another?

“Members of the public are being encouraged to bring their migration tales to a “story collecting weekend” at Epic, the Irish Emigration Museum in Dublin on May 26th and 27th, along with objects that form part of their own or their family’s migration story, such as letters, postcards, photographs, tickets, diaries, artworks, items of clothing, recipes, books, footage, mementos, badges, or songs.

A Hidden Black Cemetery in Virginia is Rediscovered

Decades of overgrowth – branches, leaves, prickly brambles – cover the ground. However, if you look closely, you can see a break in the heavy brush. At least 17 gravestones dot the earth.

The cemetery appeared to have been abandoned for more than 50 years, and it wasn’t clear who was buried there, where or how many. Most of the plots were believed to be vacant, and there weren’t any headstones, lawyers wrote in court documents. The lawyers ran a legal notice in Inside Business; no one came forward. Historical societies didn’t have a record of the cemetery.

But in addition to the 17 gravestones, The Virginian-Pilot found more than 40 obituaries saying people were buried in the Edgewood Cemetery from the mid-1930s to the 1960s.

The Alabama Department of Archives and History Asks YOU to Help Transcribe World War I Service Records

Here is another worthwhile crowdsource project that will benefit genealogists, historians, and many others. From the Alabama Centennial Blog:

“The Alabama Department of Archives and History has launched its first crowdsourced transcription project, and we want YOU to join the effort.

“Earlier this month, as part of its commemoration of the World War I Centennial, the Archives launched the Alabama History DIY: World War I Service Records initiative. Archives staff, volunteers, and student workers spent eighteen months digitizing more than 100,000 index cards with information about the men and women who served in the war. Details ranging from biographical (age, residence, race) to military (enlistment date, branch of service, engagements) make the records a boon to both genealogists and historians. Users of the Archives’ World War I Gold Star Database will find this an excellent supplement, as it also includes survivors of the war.

Putting Chattanooga’s Historical Newspapers Online

Chattanooga history advocates David Moon of Picnooga and Sam Hall of Deepzoomchattanooga.com are planning to make over 6,000 pages of Chattanooga’s historical newspapers searchable online as a free, open resource to benefit researchers, students, genealogists, and the general public, but they need your financial help.

According to the project’s web page at http://chattanooganewspapers.org:

One of the most valuable historical assets is local newspapers, which have been available on microfilm at public libraries for decades. But the old process of accessing newspapers on microfilm is extremely time-consuming and tedious, requiring points of reference and manual searching. Because of these obstacles, Chattanooga’s papers remain largely inaccessible.

There are now affordable and sustainable options to bring newspapers online. Digitization can produce accurate keyword search results from tens of thousands of indexed pages within seconds.

CBC Urged to Preserve Master Recordings of Radio and TV Programming after Making Digital Copies

NOTE: This is a follow-up to my earlier article, CBC (English-language) and Radio-Canada (French) Music Library Closing, CD’s to be Digitised, Destroyed, at http://bit.ly/2K9nIpF.

CBC News is reporting:

“The Canadian Broadcast Museum Foundation (CBMF) is urging CBC to stop destroying original radio and television programming after making digital copies, arguing these master recordings are irreplaceable.

“The Toronto charitable foundation said in a release Wednesday that CBC’s English Services began destroying original radio and TV programming at the beginning of April.

Libraries and Archives Canada Introduces Co-Lab, a Tool to Collaborate on Historical Records

Wikipedia defines crowdsourcing as “… a sourcing model in which individuals or organizations obtain goods and services, including ideas and finances, from a large, relatively open and often rapidly-evolving group of internet users; it divides work between participants to achieve a cumulative result.”

Crowdsourcing seems to be a great tool for genealogists to work together for the benefit of all. I have written often about the use of crowdsourcing in genealogy. See https://duckduckgo.com/?q=site%3Aeogn.com+crowdsourcing&t=hb&ia=web for a list of my earlier articles about crowdsourcing.

Now Libraries and Archives Canada is inviting everyone to “transcribe, add keywords and image tags, translate content from an image or document and add descriptions to digitized images using Co-Lab and the new Collection SearchBETA.”

The new project is described this way:

Louisiana Historical Center’s Colonial Documents Digitization Project

Genealogists researching Louisiana ancestry are fortunate to have many original manuscripts available from the 18th century. These include documents from New Orleans’ French Superior Council (1714-1769) and the Spanish Judicial Records (1769-1803). The documents provide a rich source of data on New Orleans’s earliest days, the Louisiana territory, the slave trade, and Native American relations, the Atlantic World, and Canada and the Caribbean, among other topics.

Access to these documents is a bit of an issue, however. The 220,000 pages of handwritten French and Spanish documents are stored in the Louisiana State Museum in New Orleans. Unfortunately, not everyone can travel to New Orleans and view the original documents during the hours the State Museum is open. Through various translations, English-language abstracts, and published summaries in Louisiana Historical Society’s journal, The Louisiana Historical Quarterly, the contents of the collection are partially accessible in print but difficult to use. The documents were not available online until recently and even today only part of the collection may be viewed online.

The Louisiana State Museum’s web site states: “According to Museum records, the colonial archives were microfilmed three times between the 1940s and 1980s, but only the most recent effort, by the LDS, is accessible today. In addition to the usual difficulties associated with reading microfilmed manuscripts, there is another problem: the microfilm reflects the current physical arrangement, which for the most part is strictly chronological – this is not the original order of the archives, in which each individual succession’s papers were kept together as a single file, regardless of the various dates or years in which they were created. Now, using the database’s search functions, any succession’s documents can be pulled together once more.”

Caretakers are Restoring Life to Minnesota’s 5,876 Graveyards

A database has identified 5,876 cemeteries across Minnesota, but the number is likely much larger — in areas adjacent to rural churches taken by development, or in overgrown woods, or long-forgotten in farm fields.

A bill in the Legislature would require local governments to take responsibility for abandoned cemeteries if a veteran is buried there. It also would establish an adopt-a-cemetery program similar to the one used for highways and require the state Historical Society to update its inventory of state cemeteries, abandoned cemeteries and burial grounds.

You can read the details in an article by Mark Brunswick in the Star Tribune web site at: http://strib.mn/2HaSair.

My thanks to newsletter reader Polly Walker for telling me about this story.

CBC (English-language) and Radio-Canada (French) Music Library Closing, CD’s to be Digitised, Destroyed

It is sad news but I am not surprised. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is facing huge funding cuts from the government and increasing costs. The results include massive staff and production cuts. Rapidly developing technological developments are also driving the changes. The broadcaster, with its stations across the country has, over the decades, amassed a vast collection of recorded music and other artefacts. In 2012, and subsequent to a massive budget cut, the CBC began a policy of digitizing its collection to save space and storage costs, even as a move began to sell off buildings and move into smaller quarters. An executive with the project said, there will be no room in the new building for storage of the library.

Not only are CDs to be digitized and the destroyed, older records are to be destroyed without being converted to digital formats at all. The records to be destroyed include approximately 70,000 old 78rpm discs. Few of these were ever re-recorded on LP, and almost none of these exist on CD.

You Never Know What You Will Find on eBay!

For years I have used a service of eBay that allows me to specify search terms for items being sold. I can specify the search terms once, and then eBay sends me an email notice whenever any new item is added to the online auction service with words in the item’s listing that match my search terms. I started doing that perhaps ten years ago or longer, and occasionally it has paid off.

I have often found items for sale that I would not have known about otherwise without manually checking every few days. I have purchased a number of “good finds” over the years, including old family history books, some CD-ROM disks containing genealogy information and county histories, and more. This week, it paid off big time!

Northeast Pennsylvania Genealogical Society Completes Historic Scranton Diocese Parish Records Preservation Project

The following article was first published in the Winter 2018 edition of The Heritage, a publication of the Northeast Pennsylvania Genealogical Society, Inc. It is republished here with the kind permission of the society. Please do not republish it elsewhere with first obtaining permission of the Northeast Pennsylvania Genealogical Society, Inc. You may contact the Society at nepgsmail@gmail.com or at P.O. Box 1776 Shavertown, PA 18708. The Society’s web site is available at: http://nepgs.com.

After an intensive 20 month effort led by the Records Preservation Team at NEPGS, the Scranton Diocese Parish Records Preservation Project is complete!

Formally launched in May 2016 with completion targeted for the March 2018 150th Anniversary of the Scranton Diocese, all primary goals have been achieved. Digitally preserving the irreplaceable parish records was of utmost importance considering the age and fragile condition of the older sacramental register books. Office staff at the parishes now can conveniently access their register books on their computers via external hard drives provided by NEPGS. This will help to arrest further deterioration of the register books since they will be handled less frequently. The project also creates a unique digital collection for genealogical research containing a wealth of information.

How to Preserve Your Family Memories, Letters and Trinkets… and How Not To

Quoting from an article written by Kelsey Mckinney in the New York Times:

Recently, someone wrote to Mary Oey, a conservator at the Library of Congress, asking for help archiving her father’s personal papers. He was a Holocaust survivor, and he had used his diaries and papers as primary sources to teach schoolchildren about his experience. He had laminated them to keep them safe, and — Ms. Oey gave a mournful sigh as she told this story — lamination is a terrible way to preserve documents. There was no way to save this patron’s history.

“The only way to extricate paper from lamination is to use lots of solvents to dissolve the plastic,” Ms. Oey said. “Some stiffer laminations, we don’t know how to get off, and it doesn’t protect the document. The lamination itself can ruin a document beyond repair.”

Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection Says it will Help Digitize Newspapers Throughout the State

The Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection is offering assistance to “cultural heritage organizations” to digitize newspapers being held in their collections. I assume “cultural heritage organizations” includes genealogy societies. Quoting from the organization’s web site:

“CHNC New Content Support Program

“The Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection (CHNC) is excited to announce a new program to support the addition of new historic news in the CHNC. The Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection New Content Support Program for newspaper digitization is designed to help cultural heritage organizations increase online access to historic community news through the CHNC. We want to help local communities add their historic stories to the larger Colorado footprint.

“About CHNC

“A service of the Colorado State Library, the CHNC currently includes more than 1 million digitized pages, representing more than 230 individual newspaper titles published in Colorado primarily from 1859 through 1922. Due to copyright restrictions, the CHNC does not always include newspapers published after 1922, but the CHNC can digitize beyond 1922 if publisher permission can be secured.

Ambitious Project to Digitize Hundreds of Thousands of New Zealand Probate Records Complete after Nine Years

Volunteers from around the world have been methodically working their way through more than 4 million pieces of paper stored at the Archives New Zealand’s Wellington office. For the past nine years, it’s been a base for FamilySearch volunteers, working to archive New Zealand probate records, up till 1993, and make them available online for free.

Mike and Lois Woods, of Arizona, came to New Zealand at their own cost to undertake the archiving work after becoming hooked on learning – and teaching others – about their own family histories. As part of the project, FamilySearch will keep a digital copy on Archives NZ’s behalf, as a safeguard in case anything happens to the original records.

The Newberry Library is Looking for Crowdsourcing Volunteers to Transcribe Continental Army Paperwork

The Newberry Library in Chicago announced it has just digitized a collection of Continental Army receipts for clothing, food, and other supplies. And it’s asking for volunteers to help transcribe those documents. Would you like to help preserve a bit of history?

Quoting from the Newberry Library’s web site:

“Most of us are familiar with the grand narrative of the Revolutionary War—the hard-fought battles, the fragile alliances, the derring-do of the newly formed Continental Army. More rarely do we scratch the surface of the well-known textbook history to examine the minor players, local transactions, and day-to-day dealings that undergirded the war effort.

Historical Issues of Perth Amboy (New Jersey) News Now Available Online

The New Jersey Digital Newspaper Project has announced that the Perth Amboy Evening News, from 1903 to 1922, will be the first New Jersey newspaper to be digitized and made publically available through the Library of Congress Chronicling America website. Part of the National Digital Newspaper Program, the New Jersey Digital Newspaper Project is a collaboration between Rutgers University Libraries, the New Jersey State Archives, and the New Jersey State Library. The project is supported by a $186,204 grant that was awarded in August 2016 from the National Endowment for the Humanities as part of a long-term effort to develop an Internet-based, searchable database of U.S. newspapers from all 50 states.

Prior to this digitization project, historical newspapers held by the New Jersey State Archives were only searchable through an onsite microfilm reader in Trenton, NJ.

Vintage Photographs and Letters, and Other Documents from Rockford, Illinois are now Available Online

Rockford’s Midway Village Museum often is asked for photos to help history buffs for family trees, business research, and school projects. Previously, you would have needed an appointment. Now, 1,700 of the most popular historic images and documents are being digitized and uploaded by the museum’s staff for your viewing.

The online collection includes photos captured on rare glass-plate negatives, early 20th century postcards of Rockford, as well as digital images of numerous documents and letters. The items include: Civil War letters sent by local soldiers, transcripts from interviews done in 2007 with immigrants to Rockford and their children, and images related to the Rockford Peaches.

What to Do With Floppy Disks?

Do you or someone you know have lots of files saved on floppy disks? A lady contacted me recently and asked how she could read her old floppy disks that she had saved from many years ago. It seems her present computer does not have a floppy disk drive in it. I suggested she do something NOW to save the disks. Before long, floppy disks will be about as useful as buggy whips.

Actually, there are THREE separate problems: