Category Archives: Special Collections

Save your Stuff: Preserving Your Recorded Materials

By Lon Maxwell, Reference Department

records-614061_960_720People amass stuff. We are all hoarders of one type or another; we just prefer to be called collectors or connoisseurs. We tuck our prized collections away in corners of closets, in attics, in garages and occasionally in storage facilities because we cherish these items. We want to keep them as mementos, memories or keepsakes to show our descendants and maybe have those people love them the same. The question is: are we storing them properly? We want to save these pieces of who we are for the future, but are they going to make it to the future? Libraries have been worrying about this for ages and there are many great places to find information on preserving your collections. Actually, there is too much information out there so here we will pull together the most important as well as the easiest steps for preserving your materials such as books, newspapers, magazines, comic books, film, slides, negatives, magnetic tape (both audio and video), records and even a little on documents and art.

photo-album-631084_960_720Photos

Once again, cleanliness is essential. Clean hands, or even archivist gloves, and a clean workspace are ideal for going through your old photographs. Ideally, photos should be stored at 40 degrees or less in a location with 30 to 40% humidity. This is very specific because the stability of modern color photos degrades with heat and according to the preservation department of the Library of Congress, “Relative humidity is the single most important factor in preserving most photographic prints.” Never let adhesives come in contact with photographic prints and only mount them on acid free cardstock.

If you are dealing with a photo that has deteriorated or if you are working with an older format like tin or daguerreotypes you will probably want to consult a professional. The American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works has an online directory of conservators to help you find one in your area.

Films, Slides and NegativesHalf-Frame_4442

Film and slides contain cellulose, an organic substance, and as such are subject to decay. Temperature and humidity are mentioned here time and again, but here it is most important. The Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA) recommends storage at 40-50° and 20-40% relative humidity. They also suggest freezing film, but this is for long term storage and should be done in the proper manner, starting in a middle to low humidity environment, packaging the material and freezing them for very long term. This is not a thing you want to do if you are planning on getting these items out next week or even next month. These materials are the best case for digital transfer. There are many services out there that can help you get these materials digitized for future use and reproduction.

Kaseta_magnetofonowa_ubtMagnetic Tape Recordings (reel to reel, 8-Track, cassette and Video Tape)

When you are working with magnetic recordings storage should be considered. While demagnetization is unlikely, it can happen so avoid storing your material near large machinery and electrical transformers. Handle reel to reel tapes from the edge and center hole only. Grasping the reel itself to hard can break the reel or crush the delicate tape. Any kind of cassette should only be handled by the outside edges. Do not touch the spools. Store them in a cool place with lower to mid-level humidity.

records-614061_960_720Other Audio Sources (Records, Wax Cylinders, CDs)

Never mess with the groove. When handling any of these older recordings keep your fingers confined to the label for records, the center hole for CDs, and for the truly old cylinders, just the edges. The grooves are where the recorded material is read by the needle or laser and damage will come from your fingerprints and any dirt on your hands. They should also be stored upright with dividers every six inches to support them in cool dry places. Always allow these materials to reach room temperature in the room where they are to be played before using them if they are stored at a low temperature. Always store like sized material together. Make sure manufacturers cleaning instructions are followed for all playback devices.

canvas-315681_960_720Art

Most people do not have a Monet in their house or a painting from the Dutch masters in their office waiting room, but with art there is no telling what will become valuable. For forty years the Jesuit house in Dublin, Ireland had a painting hanging in their parlor. In the 1990s it was determined to be a lost Caravaggio. You never know what may come of the paintings on your walls, so it never hurts to take care of them properly.

As with every other type of material, cleanliness is the first and easiest step. Make sure that you handle paintings by the sides of the frame, not the painting itself, and have enough people for the job. Dust your paintings with “a clean, soft, natural-hair artists’ brush (3.5cm to 5cm tip)” in one direction if there is no peeling or cracking evident in the paint according to the Smithsonian Institution. Display your art where there is a little exposure to UV light and as little fluctuation in temperature and humidity as possible and avoid extremes in both. Finally, make sure art is hung with the proper hardware and check those hooks, wires and brackets periodically to make sure they are in good condition.

Want more information on how to preserve your printed materials?


Sources:

Save your Stuff: Preserving Your Printed Materials

By Lon Maxwell, Reference Department

5397093992_7def5c908a_bPeople amass stuff. We are all hoarders of one type or another; we just prefer to be called collectors or connoisseurs. We tuck our prized collections away in corners of closets, in attics, in garages and occasionally in storage facilities because we cherish these items. We want to keep them as mementos, memories or keepsakes to show our descendants and maybe have those people love them the same. The question is: are we storing them properly? We want to save these pieces of who we are for the future, but are they going to make it to the future? Libraries have been worrying about this for ages and there are many great places to find Information on preserving your collections. Actually, there is too much information out there so here we will pull together the most important as well as the easiest steps for preserving your materials such as books, newspapers, magazines, comic books, film, slides, negatives, magnetic tape (both audio and video), records and even a little on documents and art.

BOOKSOld_book_bindings

This is a library blog so books come first. The easiest and first step in preservation is careful use. Make sure your hands are clean, that you are reading in a clean area free of food or drink and that you are not forcing the book open to 180°. Never use glues, rubber bands or adhesive tape on books. Never dog ear the pages or mark you place with paperclips or acidic inserts. When storing your books, try to put upright books of similar size together so that they support each other and don’t allow them to lean at an angle. Books should be kept in a cool room with low humidity (<35%) and as little exposure to direct, harsh light as possible. Avoid vents and registers as well as rooms like attics which experience extreme temperature changes. Clean your books and cases regularly. Finally when you remove a book from the shelf, grab the book on both sides of the spine at the midpoint. Do not grab it from the top.

NEWSPAPERSnewspapers

Saving the newspaper is a great way to remember a great moment in your, or humanity’s, history. Whether it is a paper from your child’s birth, VE Day, the moon landing or the election of the first African American president, newspapers show a segment of time contemporary to the event. Once again, the rules of cleanliness are paramount. No dirty hands or coffee cups here. Newspapers to be preserved should be opened flat on a surface large enough to support the entire paper. Do not fold the paper against any existing folds. When folding the newspaper back to store it always use the existing folds and keep the edges aligned as much as possible. Newspapers should be stored flat and in protected boxes with some kind of supporting material. Like comics and magazines, these boxes and boards should be acid and lignin free. Storage space should have the same conditions as that needed for books.

DOCUMENTSbooks-1099672_960_720

For the most part the documents that we have now that we want to preserve are those that have already come down to us from generations past. Many of these are already preserved, but even more are not and have already begun to deteriorate. Think about these things and what they are and represent. Discharge papers from the civil war or world war two, your great grandparent’s marriage license, an ancestor’s immigration papers. These are great things to have, but remember that someday, you may be someone’s great grandparent. Now is the time to preserve your documents, before they start to degrade. The basic rules for books still apply to documents (as well as manuscripts, drawings, prints, posters, and maps). In addition, you want to make sure any marks or inscriptions that you make are done in pencil only and on a clean surface to avoid pressing dirt or other contaminants into the paper. Paper items should be stored flat and supported like periodicals, unless the size of the object makes this prohibitive. At that point rolled in an archival tube is the safest storage option.

MAGAZINES & COMICS8015843393_6f022c63e6_o

One of the reasons that those Superman, Batman and Captain America comics from the 1930s and 40s are so valuable is that there are not many surviving. Everyone has heard the old, “I’d be a millionaire if my Mom hadn’t thrown away my comic collection” shtick, but this is far from true. These were comics. They cost 10₵, because they were made cheaply. No one expected them to be kept for seventy or eighty years. Modern comics are better, but still need preserving. The rules for books apply here as well, with a little modification. Never bend a comic back upon itself. It weakens the spine and you may be beaten by nerds. Comics should be stored in supportive enclosures. That means polybags, backing boards and archive boxes. You want to make sure the boards and boxes are ph. neutral and lignin free. Otherwise the very things protecting you comics can be causing their slow disintegration. Magazines should be treated in exactly the same way although those with glued bindings (similar to what you see on National Geographic) should be treated like books for the purpose of reading them. Do not open these to a flat position.

Want more information on how to preserve your audio and visual materials?


Sources:

20 Year Retrospective of Thelma Battle’s Williamson County African American History in Photographs

thelma

Over the past 20 years, since her first exhibit in 1996, Ms. Thelma Battle has displayed over 3000 images in 18 exhibits in observance of Black History Month and in celebration of the culture of Williamson County’s African American community.

This year, the Williamson County Public Library hopes to honor her tremendous effort, commitment, and contribution as a grass roots historian.

The 130 images on display this year are taken from all of the past exhibits Ms. Battle has compiled. The complete display can be viewed in the downstairs and upstairs display cabinets next to the elevator, and in the Special Collections department on the 2nd floor.

thelma 2

 

Also, in honor of Black History Month, Jane Landers, professor of history at Vanderbilt University, will lecture on her more than twenty years of research on the African Diaspora in various parts of the Americas. Her graduate research on the first free black town in in the Americas (formed by runaways from South Carolina who fled to Spanish Florida) supported archaeological investigations, a National Landmark registry and a museum. Since then she has also worked on diasporic sites in Mexico, Cuba, Colombia and Brazil. Landers now directs an international effort to digitally preserve the oldest records for Africans in the Americas.

This presentation will present an overview of the rise of the African slave trade and the subsequent diaspora of Africans through the Americas.  Main themes will include differences among European slave systems in the Spanish, Portuguese, English, and French colonies of the Americas and the resulting varieties of cultural expression and resistance of the enslaved.  You will also be introduced to the wide variety of evidence now available for studying the African diaspora in the Americas.

The African Diaspora_Feb.26

An Extracted Scot Finds Himself in Hungary: How to Get Started with Ancestry.com

By Stephen McClain, Reference Departmentancestry_logo

Did you know that Williamson County Public Library patrons can access Ancestry.com for free while in the library? Neither did I – and I am guessing that many other people in Williamson County don’t know either. Like many people in the United States, I have a multicultural background, but have never been absolutely certain what my ethnicity truly is. I have long been interested in tracing my roots and wondered when my ancestors first arrived on this continent, but without access to the proper resources, I never really looked into it. My surname suggests that I am Scottish and I have always celebrated that part of my lineage without really knowing the percentage or who first emigrated from the land of bagpipes and single malt whisky. Also, I have been told that my maternal side is of German or Austrian descent, but no one is really sure.

Census Records, Birth and Death Certificates and Marriage Recordsancestry1

When I first started searching Ancestry.com for information on my grandparents, the most readily available data that I found was census records. The search tab at the top left side of the home page provides users with a number of search options, but the easiest way to get started is to simply click the green “Begin Searching” button in the middle of the page. Though I was too young to remember meeting him, I know my paternal great grandfather’s full name and where he lived. By searching his name and town of residence, I was able to locate his father’s name via a combination of census, birth and death records. I repeated this process several times, and through the historical mist, I was able to find that my fifth great grandfather was born in Scotland in 1681 and arrived in what would become the United States in 1766. My family name has apparently been in this country for a very long time and the reveal of this information somewhat diminished my feelings of a connection with the Scottish homeland. I am not going to stop enjoying single malt Scotch whisky or listening to the pipes, but maybe I shouldn’t have gotten married in a kilt…either way, I had another side of my family to research.

ancestry3The maternal side of my lineage has always been somewhat of a mystery. No one in the family seems to know where the names come from. The names of my maternal grandparents both suggest German, Austrian, Slovak or Hungarian lineage. I searched my grandfather’s name and with very little effort, found out that his father was Hungarian. The 1920 U.S. Census records show that he was born in Hungary and his native tongue was Slavish. While his mother was born in Pennsylvania, her parents were born in Hungary as well, with the same linguistic details. I am 3rd generation Hungarian and never knew it! Maybe that’s why I like stuffed cabbage and lekvar pierogis so much? I don’t know. Regardless, I was excited to know that I had found a relatively recent connection to my European past. And because in many cases, Ancestry.com provides users with an actual scanned copy of the documents, I was able to see that this area in Pennsylvania was a true ethnic community. The birthplaces of the majority of the people (or the birthplaces of their parents) listed on the census record were Eastern European; Austria, Hungary, and Russia. How could my mother and her siblings have grown up not knowing that their grandparents were from Hungary? The reason is probably because so many European migrants of that time wished to disassociate themselves from their past and start a new life in America. They were struggling to make a new start while making a living in a brand new country, most often doing very difficult factory work. Maintaining and passing on a cultural identity was probably not on their list of important things to do.

When I was younger, I remember being told to be careful what you look for, you might find something you didn’t want to know. I grew up knowing most of my great aunts and uncles on my mother’s side of the family. There was only one uncle that I never met, who was killed in WW II…or so I thought he was the only one. Upon examining some census data that listed the household members at my great grandparents’ residence, I read a name listed that I had never heard before. A female child that was unknown to me. This mystery aunt was 2 years older than my oldest great aunt, of whom I grew up visiting on a regular basis. Who was this person? Was she the black sheep of the family that was shunned and disowned? Was she a convicted criminal that the family was keeping hidden? Maybe she was busted for making bathtub gin during Prohibition. I hoped so. That would be so cool. I was both eager and afraid to find out. I had to know who this person was and I could only hope that there was some guarded, veiled story to go along with this ghost on the census form. With anxious trepidation, I called my aunt and asked if she knew the identity of this missing relative. Without hesitation, she said, “That was grandma’s sister who died.” Mystery solved, though, too abruptly for my apprehensive curiosity. But what happened to her and why was she never mentioned? I was told that she died from a common complication after childbirth simply because she didn’t have access to the necessary medication and treatment. Wow. It had happened so long ago that she was never mentioned in my time. No romantic tales of rebellion, crime or calamity, but a somber reminder of harder times, to say the least.

Phone and Street Directories

My searches also produced a large number of scanned city phone directories dating back to the 1920s. When searching for a name on Ancestry.com, users are given categories on the left of the page. One of those choices is “Schools, Directories and Church Histories.” Though it was never mentioned in any family stories, I now know that the likely reason my maternal grandparents met is because their families lived on the same street. These old phone directories most often show not only telephone numbers and addresses, but also the name of individuals who were living at that address, i.e. another relative or a boarder. This is a great tool in locating exactly where a relative may have lived. And if nothing else, it is intriguing to see telephone numbers such as “WAlbridge 1154 and BLackstone 2311.”

Military Recordsancestry2

My paternal grandfather and many of my maternal great uncles were in World War Two. I was able to locate the muster rolls that listed my grandfather’s name and the ship he was on. (Yeah, I never heard the term “muster roll” either. It is the register of the officers and men in a military unit or on a ship. Thanks, Wikipedia.) I also found out that my maternal great uncle was killed at Pearl Harbor and I located a detailed photograph of the monument that lists his name. Additionally in the military records, I was able to find the scanned copies of WW I and WWII draft registration cards for both of my great grandfathers. The documents are hand written and include the signatures of the men. To locate documents such as these, simply type in the name of the person that you are searching and after clicking “Search”, you will see all of the results for that name. To the left of the page, there is a listing of categories, such as “Census and Voter Lists” and “Birth, Marriage and Death.” The third category is “Military.” This option will produce information on draft registration, enlistment, casualties, and gravesites, just to name a few. There is also a great deal of information on Civil War soldiers and the American Revolution.


 

This is just a sample of the information available at Ancestry.com and a bit of my personal experience in looking for my roots. It was great fun for me searching through my relative’s collective pasts and getting just a glimpse of their lives well before I was a twinkle in someone’s eye. Whenever you are ready to do your own searching, come to the second floor of the Williamson County Public Library and log on to a computer or visit one of the staff in the Special Collections department and they will help you with your queries. Access to Ancestry.com is only available to patrons while they are physically in the library. On the library’s website, move the mouse over Special Collections on the left of the page and click on Digital Genealogy. From there, click on Access Ancestry Library while visiting the library. The Williamson County Public Library also offers free classes on Introduction to Ancestry.com once a month.

 

But be advised, you may find something you didn’t expect…

How DNA Tests Helped Me with Genealogy!

By Jason Gavin, Special Collections Librarian

DNA_OverviewI’ve discussed some of the various kinds of DNA tests available before. Recently I was discussing with family my experience with the Ancestry.com DNA test compared with the National Genographic test -both of which I’ve taken- and thought I’d share my experience. Of course, ultimately which test you find most useful or interesting will depend on what you, personally, are hoping to get out of the test.

For myself, I find Y-DNA/ Mt-DNA tests to be far more interesting than Autosomal tests.   I found the autosomal tests (like the one Ancestry offers) kind of vague. Basically, it will show you matches between your DNA and other Ancestry users with a % confidence rate (90% likelihood this is a 3rd cousin, for example). You could then go to that person’s family tree (if it’s not private) and figure out how you match up. That’s assuming of course that their family tree has correct information, which unless you’ve verified their research is a big assumption. It’s kind of neat, but I’ve yet to see it lead to a breakthrough in anyone’s “brick wall” ancestor.

The other thing the autosomal DNA tests offer is an “ethnicity estimate”. That takes your DNA and compares it to samples from all around the world, and tells you what population you most closely match. So for example, it might say “Your DNA looks like your 54% British Isles, 20% German, 10% Native American…” and so on. But remember, the autosomal tests are only good for up to 6 generations, so it doesn’t really tell you anything about the ancient origins or ancestral “homeland” of your direct paternal or maternal lines. For that, you’d want a Y-DNA and/or Mt-DNA test.

I myself was most interested in the ancient DNA information. Especially because on both my father’s and mother’s side, I haven’t been able to trace the families “across the pond” for the direct maternal line or direct paternal line. The Y-DNA and Mt-DNA helped shed some light on this. So, even though these tests didn’t connect me with any specific people, I learned that on Dad’s side, we have a DNA marker that is found in Northwestern Irish families traditionally connected with the Ui Neal dynasty of Irish kings – and on Mom’s side, my haplogroup is a quite rare one that is a remnant from the first humans to venture into Europe as hunters/ gatherers– long before the invention of agriculture and prior even to the last ice age! Cool stuff, huh?

So for me, my money is on the National Genographic test. It gives you Y-DNA and Mt-DNA, as well as autosomal, and you can transfer your results to FamilyTree DNA for free!

The Annual Williamson County African American History Exhibit is Here!

display slide

Migrations of Williamson County African Americans, Feb. 2-28, 2015 — Special Collections Department, Williamson County Public Library

The Special Collections department at the Williamson County Public Library is hosting its annual photographic exhibit on Williamson County African American history by local historian and author Thelma Battle. This year’s exhibit is “Coming & Going,” and examines the history of migration to and from Williamson County in the Black community. Topics will include the earliest slaves in the county, the reconstruction era exodus, the impacts of war, and modern immigration into Williamson County for industry, sports, and more. The exhibit is held in the 2nd floor Special Collections department at 1516 Columbia Ave. in Franklin, and will run from Feb. 2nd – 28th in honor of Black History Month.

Also in honor of Black History Month, the library will be hosting a free lecture, “The African Diaspora through the Americas,” on Friday, February 20 at 2pm-4pm in the downstairs meeting room.  Jane Landers will lecture on her more than twenty years of research on the African Diaspora (a diaspora is a scattered population with a common origin in a smaller geographic area) in various parts of the Americas. Her graduate research on the first free black town in in the Americas (formed by runaways from South Carolina who fled to Spanish Florida) supported archaeological investigations, a National Landmark registry and a museum. Since then she has also worked on diasporic sites in Mexico, Cuba, Colombia and Brazil. Landers now directs an international effort to digitally preserve the oldest records for Africans in the Americas.

displayThis presentation will present an overview of the rise of the African slave trade and the subsequent diaspora of Africans through the Americas.  Main themes will include differences among European slave systems in the Spanish, Portuguese, English, and French colonies of the Americas and the resulting varieties of cultural expression and resistance of the enslaved.  You will also be introduced to the wide variety of evidence now available for studying the African diaspora in the Americas.

________________________________________________________________________________________

For More information, contact the Special Collections Department on the 2nd floor – 615-595-1246

The Williamson Room and the Battle of Franklin

By Jason Gavin, Special Collections Librarian03d7e2d1064e09f7531b755c057924a6

While you are in the library during the sesquicentennial celebrations, take a moment to stop by the Williamson Room, located in the Special Collections Department on the second floor. With floor to ceiling windows on three sides of the room, you will be standing right in the heart of where the Battle of Franklin occurred. Facing southwest from this room, you will be looking toward the two miles over which the Confederates advanced from Winstead Hill, completely exposed to enemy fire. Facing northeast, you will be about 500 feet from the position of the Union embankments. From this idyllic spot overlooking Columbia Avenue, it’s hard to imagine that by the end of the day on November 30, 1864, you would be looking over some 10,000 casualties, over 6,000 of which were Confederate – including 6 killed or mortally wounded generals.

There are several new markers displayed in the room commemorating the Battle, as well as an original 1878 map of the battlefield, portraits of the fallen Confederate generals with accounts of their final rolls in the terrible battle. Several pre-1900 first edition books relating to the Battle of Franklin from the Col. John L. Jordan collection are on display as well. It is worth the visit for the beautiful view and a quiet moment of reflection on the scope and toll of the terrible battle that occurred here 150 years ago.

The NEW Genealogy and Local History Database!!!

By Jason Gavin, Special Collections Librarian

The Special Collections Department has a new swanky database format with a wealth of genealogy and Williamson County historical information, available here. Below are some highlights of what you can find:

  • Local History News Database: Contains a selection of over 7,000 local news stories, and growing.
  • Obituaries: Contains over 50,000 Williamson County Obituaries and growing.
  • Index to the Edith Whitley Collection: Whitley was a professional genealogist who compiled a wealth of unique family research material in her 50 plus year career in Nashville. This material has not yet been digitized or microfilmed, and is thus unique to the Special Collections department.
  • Databases on Williamson County Births, Cookbooks, Families, Magazines, Maps, Marriages, and Veterans

We are especially strong in local African American history and Genealogy thanks to two outstanding collections; the Thelma Battle Collection and the Richard C. Fulcher Collection. In the Thelma Battle collection, there is a wealth of information on bank records, bills of sale, cemetery records, census records, churches, local community history, craftsmen, deaths, deeds, funeral program index, labor contracts, marriages, politicians, social organizations, slave genealogies, schools, and more – including an index to some of the popular exhibits of her large collection of local African American related photographs. The Richard Fulcher database contains a partial index of that collection, covering County records and court excerpts related to Williamson County African American Families.Database 2 image

Each one of these collections is individually searchable, or you can browse, by clicking on the Collection Links page. What makes this new format really exciting however, are some of the new features available through the Search tab. Using the KEYWORD search tab, we now have the ability to search multiple databases simultaneously. In the dropdown menu, simply hold the “Ctrl” key and click all of the databases you are interested in searching. In addition, the FIELD search tab allows you to be far more specific in searching individual databases than was previously possible.

As always, the Special Collections staff is available to answer any questions you might have in navigating the new format or giving you more information about the specific collections. Reach us at 615-595-1246 or email SPCOLL@williamson-tn.org.

Our Ancestors’ Occupations

By Dorris Douglass, Special Collections Librarian

Yes, I know – most of our ancestors were farmers – but certainly not all. Genealogical sources are filled with references to many that were not farmers. Up until about 1800 legal document usually, though not always, included a man’s occupation following his name. The same custom of including one’s occupation is also found in early wills. Some good examples of occupations in legal documents are found in Baltimore County, Maryland Deed Records Volume One 1657-1737, transcribed by John Davis: (in Special Collections)

  • 15 Nov. 1725 Melchizedeck Murray, planter (farmer) to Thomas Hughs, innholder;
  • 4, Jan. 1726, Robert Cruickshank , merchant , of London, England, power of attorney to George Walker, merchant, of Maryland;
  • 7 Feb. 1726 John Stokes to Stephen Wilkenson, minister, of St. George’s Parish, Baltimore Co.;
  • 2 June 1726 John Powell, taylor (tailor) to Peter Whitaker, planter;
  • 3 Aug. 1726 George Buchanan , chyrugeon (surgeon = doctor) to Benjamin Jones;
  • 8 June 1727, James Maxwell to James Preston, barber .(5)
  • 22 June, 1727, Thomas Stone, shipwright, to Richard Gist.

Another source of our ancestors’ occupation is military records. In some cases our ancestors actually followed certain occupation while serving in the army. In the book Tennesseans in the War of 1812 (in Special Collections) a list of abbreviations used include:

  • Artif= Artificer (craftsman),
  • Blksmth=Blacksmith,
  • Chap=chaplain,
  • Comm=Commissary,
  • Dmr=Drummer,
  • Drm maj= Drum Major,
  • Far=Farier,
  • Fgmstr=Foragemaster ,
  • Mus =Musician,
  • QM=Quartermaster,
  • Sdlr=Sadler,
  • Tptr= Trumpeter ,
  • Wgnr, Wagoner,
  • Wgnmstr =Wagonmaster.

More occupations were added were added in the Civil War, such as sappers & miners (engineers), carpenters for building winter quarters, and especially shoemakers. A good example is the Confederate service record of Nicholas P. Holt of Williamson County, accessed on “Fold Three” through the Library. Nicholas Holt enlisted on May 18, 1861. He served with the 17th Tennessee Infantry up until Aug.12, 1863 when he was ordered detached from his regiment as a shoe maker and sent to Loundon County, Virginia, As of December 10 he returned to his regiment in the field but continued as a shoe maker and also a bridle maker for General Bushrod R. Johnson’s brigade. This brigade consisted of the 17th, 23rd, 25th and 44th Tennessee Infantry Regiments.

The final primary source for occupations is of course the census records. The 1840 census has columns to check for number of people in a family employed in: mining, agriculture, commerce, manufacturing and trade, navigation of the ocean, navigation of the canals, lakes, and rivers, and learned professions (teachers, lawyers. doctors) and engineers. In the census that followed there are spaces to write in one’s occupation. Coming closer the present these include such work as hod carriers in mason work and elevator operators in a department stores which I recently saw on the 1930 census.

Come join us in Special Collections to see how your ancestor made his living.

The Retirement of Dorris Douglass

By Dorris Douglass, Special Collections LibrarianIMG_9357

I will be retiring Oct. 31st and it has been a wonderful 16 & 3/4 years.  Upon my announcement of my retirement, the blog master asked if I would be willing to share some of my most rewarding experiences here at the library.

The first was in 2002. I had a family call me on a Saturday morning. They had an uncle who had died in California and could be buried for free in the Military Cemetery at Pegram, Tennessee, if it could be proven he was born in Tennessee.  But he had no birth certificate, though he was born in 1929.   My immediate reply was “Oh you need this in a hurry!” I took their phone number and said I would do my best. The 1930 census had just come out and the library had had the microfilm about two weeks. This was before any census records were on the Internet, or indexed. Before closing time, I did find him on the census which showed he was a year old and “born in Tennessee.” I printed it off, stamped it with the Williamson County Public Library hand stamp to make it look very official, signed my name and dated it. They came and picked it up and got their uncle buried back home in Tennessee.

My second most rewarding experience was via a phone call from Indiana. This was before the day of constant e-mail. A young man wanted to find for his uncle, the uncle’s sister whom the family had lost contact with fifty years ago. The woman had divorced and remarried but they did not know her married name. All they could give me was the name of her first husband. The last information they had was that she was then living in Franklin, Tennessee. I found a fairly recent obituary for her first husband, and whoever compiled the obituary was very thorough, not only giving the name of the former wife of fifty years ago, but the first name of her second husband. I picked up the phone book and there he was. I called the young man and said “Here is her phone.” They later called me and told me about the big family reunion they were having.

The next two experiences were not near so dramatic but rewarding just the same. Some library patron found a glossy black and white photograph of a young girl dated 1950, stuck in a library book that had not been checked out in 6 years. There was a name on the back of the picture but that was all. I found where the girl had married in Marshal County, Tennessee in 1954. Now knowing her married name, I checked our library card holders and sure enough she had a Williamson County Library card. We were able to get the picture back to where it belonged.

My last rewarding experience was just a couple of weeks ago. We had a patron come in with one question and leave with the answer to another that she had not dreamed was even possible of knowing. She was a big talker and happened to mention she wanted to get her father’s World War II medals. She had been to Veterans Affairs in Nashville and they had told her they could do nothing without his social security number, as his name was W.C. Brown and there would be a million veterans by that name. When she said that, I said “Oh I can get his social security number.” She had no idea the retired Social Security numbers are on Ancestry.com. As she knew his birth date and that he died in Franklin, (that is the last benefit was sent to Franklin) we could pick out which W. C. Brown was his social security number. And she left thrilled that she could go get her father’s World War II medals.

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Click for information about her retirement party!

 

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