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Cataloging and Citing Personal Papers

We have boxes of paper from our ancestors.  How should we go about reviewing, organizing and deciding what to pitch? The Summer 2016 Dallas Genealogical Society seminar "You Can't Take it With You: Preserving & Sharing Our Family Treasures" led by Denise Levenick was a great starting place. Now, we just have to start.

The box of "stuff" from my mom and dad's?  It looked like a bunch of old insurance bills that could be pitched, but a review of the bills gave me every address where my parents lived after they married, and a couple of my grandmother's addresses where my dad had his mail sent during WW II. There was a set of auto insurance stubs that showed my maternal grandfather's address--it looks like he paid for their auto insurance while my dad was in graduate school on the GI bill. It also had a military personal effects check list that gave his Army Serial Number and a couple of additional tidbits. I'm only half way through.

This box will allow geotagging for a lot of photos where we knew the city, but no one could remember the address of a residence.

Today's task is to read Levenick's book How to Archive Family Keepsakes for suggestions on how to catalog this box of stuff. The basic cataloging structure that I've decided upon is

  • Collection (mom and dad's papers, with date transferred to me)
  • Box # (this is #1 of several)
  • Folder # (there are no folders, but I will split out each bill payee to a folder or group them in folders)
  • Description or general inventory of contents
  • Notes on useful genealogical information

I'm not sure about digitizing this; certainly parts of it make sense. Some of it would scan well on the Scansnap auto feeder.

We went to the Fal 2016 Dallas Genealogical Society seminar and North Texas Genealogical Society day given by Curt Witcher, Senior Manager for Special Collections at the Allen County Public Library held at the downtown Dallas Public Library.  Friday was a meeting of officers from about 20 North Texas genealogical societies, talking about issues and directions.  Generally, the issues that people talked about are the same issues that face all community organizations: leadership burnout, leadership succession and marketing. Curt's afternoon lectures on the national trends and directions and leadership were spot-on.

Saturday was the seminar on "Sources and Methods for Family History Research" with four interesting lectures on methodology, the German migration in the Midwest and Native American/First Nations research.  Although I don't have any First Nations ancestors that I know about, the history discussed in that lecture was really, really interesting; if you ever have a chance to hear this lecture, go to it even if you don't have any First Nation ancestors.

Denise Levenick presenting the Dallas Genealogical Society Summer Seminar

Summer 2016 DGS Summer Seminar--Preserving Family Treasures

We went to the Summer 2016 Dallas Genealogical Society Seminar given by Denise Levenick  held on July 29-30 at the downtown Dallas Public Library.  This was not about genealogy; it was about how to deal with the "stuff" that we get from our parents.  The letters, manuscripts, bibles, wedding dresses, and other family heirlooms that are passed down in a country where we have been blessed with prosperity to create and acquire stuff and peace so that it doesn't get destroyed. Her lecture on what to keep was quite useful, as well as how to identify and record it to share information with family members or others who might want to publish something and use a bible or manuscript as a source.

This would have been useful for anyone, even people who have no interest in genealogy. The highlight was finishing up the two-day event with a "road show" of items submitted by attendees to talk about how to preserve, and potentially donate.  Items included a WW II leather bomber jacket, some 1800s vintage tin types and a WW II neptune certificate.

We went to the Spring 2016 Dallas Genealogy Society (DGS) Seminar to hear Paul Milner speak on immigration from the British Isles. It was a great series; I learned a lot about Irish history in particular that will help in understanding when, why and how my various Irish ancestors came to the United States.  In particular, the "Irish Emigrants to North America: Before, During and After the Famine" helped a lot in giving me an understanding of where John Moore probably entered and the path that he took to get where he ended up (Illinois).

We may never document his origins, but the history that I'm learning in the process is fascinating.

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