by Lisa Cooke | Oct 25, 2017 | 01 What's New, Archive Lady |
What we expect to be found in an archive is documents, photos, memorabilia and other paper-based items. But the Archive Lady Melissa Barker’s list of “most unusual discoveries” reminds us to expect the unexpected in archival collections! Read about her top ten unique and exciting archive discoveries.
10 Unexpected Items I’ve Found in an Archive
Working in an archive everyday like I do in the Houston County, Tennessee Archives, you can come across some of the most interesting items! Here is a list of my top 10 discoveries.
1. Looney Money
This is money that was dispensed by a local business to their employees for wages. This money usually had the store or business name on it and the money could only be spent in the store or business.
All images in this post courtesy of Melissa Barker and Houston County, TN Archives, except as noted.
2. Straight Razor
While working on circuit court case packets, I ran across one for William Hughes who was charged with going armed with a straight razor in 1952. The actual straight razor was in the packet and just as sharp as it was back in 1952.
3. Fudge Pie Recipe (with a Voting Roster?!)
While processing a collection of voting and election records, I found a 1952 local city ballot that had a handwritten fudge pie recipe written on the back. I actually made the pie and it was wonderful!
4. Lock of Hair
While processing a manuscript collection of various types of records, I found a lock of hair tied with a blue ribbon that was in perfect condition. The lock of hair was in a harmonica box and addressed to a gentleman and had been sent through the mail. So far we have not been able to determine whose lock of hair it is.
5. A 100-Year Old Vacuum Cleaner
Recently a man walked into the archives and donated a 100 year old vacuum cleaner. This vacuum cleaner is motorless and looks just like the Bissell vacuum cleaners you can buy today. The crazy thing is, it still works!
6. Snake Photo
Recently a patron donated an old photo album that had belonged to her Grandmother who had owned the local hotel back in the 1920s. The photo album included a photo of a lady holding a very, very large snake. There is a name of “Mille Viola” on the photo and it was taken at Kern Bros. Photographs in New York.
In the archives, we have come across a couple of examples of the moonshine trade. In our court records, there are numerous court cases about moonshiners. We also have several photographs of bottles of moonshine and stills. Seems it was very popular to take photographs of what the police had collected.
8. Grand Ole Opry
In one of the wonderful scrapbooks that we have at the Houston County, TN. Archives, there is an original 1943 Grand Ole Opry Ticket.
KODAK Digital Still Camera
9. Railroad Memorabilia
The railroad once went through many communities and areas including Houston County, TN. We have many items to help us remember the railroad, like railroad spikes, lanterns, and tools used to work on the railroad.
We have three dioramas in the archives, one depicting an old church, one depicting a dogtrot house and one depicting a schoolhouse. They are a very popular attraction for our patrons.
By Tracyleanne (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Click to view.
Melissa doesn’t have images of her dioramas–and every diorama is different–but here’s an example of a diorama of a wastewater treatment plant. (People create dioramas of diverse places, don’t they?)
What Have You Found in An Archive?
What treasures or unusual have you discovered in an archival collection? Tell us in the comments below!
by Lisa Cooke | Dec 9, 2017 | 01 What's New, RootsTech
A new Photo + Story competition will be part of RootsTech 2018! If you can take a story-filled picture and caption it meaningfully, you should enter. Check out these tips for creating winning family history photo and story combinations. Winners will receive prizes from Canon and Dell–so start putting together your best photos and stories.
RootsTech 2018 Photo + Story Competition
“A good photo tells a good story. And behind every good photo and story is a photographer who recognized the moment the two had come together and snapped the shutter.” So says the press release announcing RootsTech 2018‘s Photo + Story Competition. Here’s how to enter:
“Participate by finding or capturing a photo and story, past or present, of you or a family member. Unlike standalone photo or story competitions, we want you to use the power of both photo and story to share, persuade, inform, inspire, connect, and belong.” In fact, some of those verbs are the four categories in the competition:
Winners will awarded prizes from Canon and Dell, which will certainly help your future family history storytelling! Selected entries will appear in an exhibit at RootsTech 2018.
This contest complements the appearance of RootsTech 2018 keynote speaker Humans of New York photographer Brandon Stanton. His personal glimpses into the lives of ordinary people in New York has set a standard for quality photo stories.
Details You’ll Want to Know
Here are several must-know details if you’d like to enter the contest–or encourage someone you know to enter:
- Entrants can submit one photo and story in each of the categories.
- Entrants must be at least 18 to apply.
- No professional qualification, licenses, certificates, or certification is required.
- If you didn’t take the picture, you must have permission or rights to use the photo (if it was taken after 1923). Agreeing to compete places full liability on the participant.
- Go to RootsTech.org for contest entry details.
- The deadline for entries is December 31, 2017.
- Selected entries will be notified by January 15, 2018, with more information on their intent to exhibit.
Family History Storytelling Tips for You
At Genealogy Gems, we’re all about helping you to discover, preserve and share your family history. If you’re thinking of entering this contest, consider how the following tips, adapted from a Genealogy Gems article on family history storytelling, can help your Photo + Story competition entry:
- Create vivid “characters.” Photos can capturing someone’s expressions, body language, mood, unique clothing or a moment of intense personal drama. They can also create compelling portraits of the heirlooms or objects that store family memories. Your stories can do the same. Choose unique, meaningful details–both in words and pictures.
- Paint the backdrop. What’s going on in the background of your picture? The “setting” and any background action should help tell the story, not distract from it. In your story, add essential details that the image can’t communicate. Is the exact date or place important? What else?
- Tell why this story matters. Call it what you will: a meaning, a moral, a message–the best stories and photos say something about life. Something more than skin deep. Think about why the picture and story matter to you. Share it clearly, concisely, with humor or feeling or whatever tone best works for you and the message.
Genealogy Gems will be at RootsTech 2018 to help you discover and share your family stories! Click here to learn more.
by Lisa Cooke | Nov 10, 2013 | 01 What's New, Canadian, Inspiration, Oral History
The Victoria Genealogical Society has started a new memory project called “Voices of the Past.” They are recording the stories of senior members of their community and posting them to their website. You can listen to any given story or click on one of the themes they’ve organized the material into, then listen to stories relating to that theme.
I heard about it from Merv Scott, a Project Director at the Victoria Genealogical Society. Merv sees this project as a win-win experience for those telling stories and those receiving them. “I’m sure you have seen how uplifting it is for seniors to tell stories about their family history,” he writes. “Research has shown it boosts their self-esteem reduces stress and anxieties….I think it’s an amazing legacy to leave your children and grandchildren with stories about their family as told by the person who was there. ” You can contact Merv (Projects@victoriags.org) for more information.
I’ve heard about lots of oral history projects, from the national in scope to the most local. Browse some of these (and find tools and resources for doing your own) at Cyndi’s List.
by Lisa Cooke | Sep 24, 2013 | 01 What's New, History, Inspiration, Maps
If your ancestors lived or worked in New York City, did you know you can follow them home from work? At least virtually.
New York City Subway History
David Pirmann runs a website dedicated to the history of the New York City subway system. NYCSubway.org includes great historical background, photos, maps and other documents.
Start by reading about elevated rail service that began in the 1860s and the development of the transit system since then. Then consult route maps for several time periods, either in the Historical Maps section or the Line by Line Guide (both under the Maps and Stations tab).
The fun part is browsing the rest of the site: learn how “The Great White Hurricane” snowstorm of 1888 paralyzed the city, or how things have worked behind the scenes (fares, power, signals, etc). You can even check out images of abandoned stations and old cars.
Thanks to Gizmodo.com for an article that pointed me to this fun resource.
by mbarker | Mar 28, 2018 | 01 What's New, Archive Lady, Research Skills | This isn’t a mess—it’s a pile of unprocessed records at an archive, and buried within may be clues about your family history. Eventually, these items may be filed away neatly for you to find. But how can you access them in the meantime? As an archivist who works in an...