Category Archives: Special Collections

Working on Your Family Tree in Quarantine

In these trying times, many people are staying inside and away from people. Even in physical isolation, there is still ample opportunity to work on your family tree. No matter where in the world your relatives live, it is likely that they are spending more time sitting down and able to talk than they were at the start of the year. There are some excellent ways to communicate with relatives about family history while still maintaining a safe social distance. I will tell you three types of people you can contact during this pandemic.

The first group of people is family members you already talk to on a regular basis. If you are just starting out with genealogy, talking to relatives you already know is about the best possible “first step” you can take in researching your family history. Even if you are a seasoned genealogist, there is always more you can learn by talking to your family.

The second group of people will be relatives you have not heard from in years. Many of these relatives will be delighted to hear from you. Some of these relatives might have already started working on a family tree and will be very excited that you have made contact.

The third group of people is people you (or anyone you have ever had contact with) have never had contact with. These people can be found through several different sources.

One source is through connecting with other researchers. On sites such as Ancestry.com and Findagrave.com, you can network with other people who are distantly related to you. You can find distant relatives who upload information about their (and your) families to these sites or have made comments about other uploads. If you have accounts on these sites, you can send messages and exchange information.

Our Special Collections Department provides Ancestry.com and HeritageQuest for free at https://www.wcpltn.org/178/Digital-Resources in addition to several other online resources. If you have descendants from Tennessee and especially in Williamson County, they can help you reach out to local researchers and find resources.

If you do not think there is another researcher you are distantly related to who can exchange information with you…THINK AGAIN! Genealogy is a very popular interest and I promise that you have distant cousins out there researching your family.

While you are working on your family tree, you may realize you have distant relatives who are alive and cannot be contacted through a formal genealogy network. One way you can contact them by is looking them up in the phone book and calling them. It might seem intrusive, but you might land on a gold mine. The worst thing that could possibly happen is that they tell you they are not the slightest bit interested in family history and that they never want you to contact them again. In this case, you should respect their wishes and forever leave them alone.

Remember to use caution when you contact other researchers. Use discretion about giving out your personal information. Remember to respect other people’s privacy.

DO NOT BE SHY!

~Alan Houke

Excellent Citizens and Notable Partings in Williamson County, Tennessee Book Publication Announcement

What was Special Collections doing during the covid-19 shelter-at-home mandate?

We’re glad you asked! Your Special Collection librarians were right here, working hard on compiling and editing a new book for our department, and for you! As much as we didn’t like the circumstances, we welcomed this time to focus on bringing our work to completion. We fully intend to have our new book available for purchase and/or perusal sometime in June, barring any unforeseen circumstances. 

What is the title?

The long title is: 

Excellent Citizens and Notable Partings: A Further Look at the Popular Series, “Portrait of an Excellent Citizen,” Published in The Review-Appeal, 1966-1968, in Franklin, Tennessee

What made you compile a book? 

Inspiration. It’s as simple as that. Nearly two years ago, an old box of donated items provided  hours of delight and entertainment as we combed through its contents. Among the assorted papers, we found a nearly complete set of Review-Appeal “Portrait of an Excellent Citizen” clippings which, we soon discovered, ran as a series between the years 1966-1968. We were intrigued by this Review-Appeal appointed group of outstanding citizens, so highly regarded that each face was individually hand drawn by Tennessean staff artist, Bill Duke. 

Why these citizens?

Each generation recognizes those among us who stand out, the ones getting things done, the ones everyone either knows or “knows of.” How the Review-Appeal “Portrait of an Excellent Citizen” series came into being is a bit of a mystery, as well as their selection process. It seemed to have just appeared out of the blue, with no introduction and no conclusion. However, once re-discovered, we quickly recognized that this collection of citizen portraits gave us a unique snapshot of Williamson County and some, but not all, of the more visible citizens of the late 1960s, and that in itself was significant. While our nation was in the throes of political turmoil and cultural revolution, it would seem that business and life went on as usual in Williamson County.

Why is this book important?

As we began to wonder how the lives of these “Excellent Citizens” played out and what it would look like to read their end-of-life story, we set out to locate their obituaries and other articles. After compiling a fair amount of additional material, it was easy to see the treasure we had unearthed. We knew if we could get this all into a book, it would become an important resource for present and future researchers in finding family connections and aiding their understanding of these citizens and their place in our midst. For added interest, we threaded in ads of the era found in the Review-Appeal, The Williamson Leader, and the local Franklin phone directory. We also used quotations and excerpts from other local sources whenever possible.

Are any of the Excellent Citizens still living?

Yes, only about 10. For those citizens who are still living, we sent letters or called asking for their help, or their family’s help, in creating an updated entry for them. Most were happy to do so. And as word got out, some families of those citizens already gone were eager to help as well. In that way, we were able to amass original and important additional content for many of our living and deceased Excellent Citizens.

Are there other books about local people from Williamson County?

Yes, there are quite a few wonderful biographies, and several narratives of life in Franklin which are very  entertaining as well as factual. We are eager to point out to our readers works such as Who’s Who in Williamson County by Jane Bowman Owen, Who’s Who in Williamson County by Nat Osborne, Jr., and Who’s Who in Williamson County by Derry Carlisle, reprints of the Review-Appeal column of the same name published over a span of 35 years, all colorfully written and re-published by Rick Warwick. We also encourage our patrons to read the narratives of locals who have chronicled their own lives in Williamson County during this era, and in doing so, have animated the lives of many other citizens, some featured in our book. Look for works by Leonard Isaacs, Russ Farnsworth, Bill Peach, Bobby Langley, Jimmy Gentry, W.C. Yates, and others. Many of these are available to check out at WCPL.

Why are these 143 citizens important?

In today’s world, we have “social media” and “influencers,” but these men and women of the late 1960s were influential — they were doers, and their lives reflected their interaction with and influence in the community. For a time, they were all here in this one place, together, the stalwarts of their day. We hope this book, which we have painstakingly compiled and edited, will provide its readers and researchers with a useful resource as well as a source of memories of a time gone by, now known as The Sixties. 

Watch for details about our new book, Excellent Citizens and Notable Partings, coming out soon!

From the Special Collections Department

Marcia P. Fraser and Ashleigh M. Florida

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

By Stephen McClain, Reference Department

Originally posted November 20, 2015ancestry_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…

Beginning genealogy: Those (not so) pesky neighbors!

By Jason Gavin, Special Collections Librarian

Originally published September 12, 2014

You’ve started your family genealogy, and zipped right through the first few generations using census records on Ancestry.com. Great! Then the inevitable happens – you hit a brick wall. Great-great-Grandma or Grandpa seems to simply disappear off the face of the Earth! Now what? It’s time to take a closer look at the census records you’ve already used, and look at those nosy neighbors.4332964512_8d5eb8f643_o

It’s always worth bearing in mind that census records were compiled by a (sometimes very) fallible human being walking door to door, knocking, and asking “who lives here?”. If you stay aware of this fact, you won’t make the mistake of assuming that because a name is spelled a particular way, in must not be Grandpa Stephen, because he spelled his name with a “v”. If the census taker heard “Gavin”, he might have written “Gavin” on the census. If, on the other hand, he heard “Caffin”, that’s what he’ll write (I’ve seen it happen!). And if the name was even slightly exotic, be it French, German, Italian, Swedish, etc. – forget about it! I am often tempted to believe that to be hired as a Federal census taker prior to 1900, applicants had to pass a grueling exam, where only the most hard-of-hearing, sloppiest penmanship, and poorest spellers passed. I can’t prove this, but I have my suspicions.

The other reason it’s worth remembering this door-to-door-knocking fact, is that it means all of the families listed above and below the family you’re researching were next door neighbors. This can be tremendously helpful! For one reason, youthful betrothed tended to marry the guy or girl next door, or a couple of houses down, or the next street over. If you can find great grandpa while he was single in the census records, you can very often find great grandma’s family on the next page or sometimes even living next door.

Another reason this is useful is because families during certain periods tended to move in groups. The Johnsons moved from North Carolina to Kentucky to Tennessee with the Smith family, for example. And along the way, sons might marry daughters. You never know how little clues like this might help you break through your brick wall. As an example, I found a house full of my ancestors in the 1880 census, along with a very elderly lady by a different last name of Hollingsworth. Continuing my line yielded a few more results, but I eventually hit the familiar brick wall. This was solved eventually not by researching my family name, but by tracing the Hollingsworths, and looking at their neighbors. And sure enough, I found a family of Hollingsworths living next door to some Gavins in 1850, which filled in the gap I was looking for and allowed me to plow headlong into the next brick wall on the Gavin line.

Paying attention to occupations and nationalities of neighbors can also lend some context to the history and kind of location your ancestors were in as well. Was everybody a farmer? This might indicate a poor rural location. Is there evidence for industry? Do you see blacksmiths or railroad workers clustered in the neighborhood? Were the majority of the neighbors German or Irish, or did they speak languages other than English? This might give a clue as to your ancestor’s nationality. What was the average age of people in the community? An extreme lack of elderly individuals might indicate the area was fairly newly established, whereas a uniform lack of young men of certain age might indicate heavy recruitment for a war.

Like so much in genealogy, the smallest, most overlooked clues can lead to big breakthroughs with a little patience and diligence.

What Is Special Collections, Anyway?

By Cindy Schuchardt, Special Collections

If you’ve wandered the library looking for that next great read, you may have braved the stairs and checked out our non-fiction section, teen room, rotunda area, and computer learning lab.  As you continued to explore the second floor, perhaps you saw the “Special Collections” signage, beckoning you to a mysterious room tucked back in the corner behind the printers. Special Collections? What is that… a place to donate to your favorite charitable organization?  No.

The collections that we feature are books, periodicals and other specialized resources that relate to genealogy and local history. If you’ve wanted to research your ancestry or learn more about the history of Williamson County or Tennessee, then come in for a visit! Here’s a look at what Special Collections has to offer:

  • Books and periodicals that take you on a journey from European Genealogy and History, to S. Genealogy &  History, to Tennessee History &  Periodicals.  From there, materials explore various Tennessee counties, nearby states, and family biographies.
  • The Local Authors Collection, consisting of books published by Williamson County residents, past and present.
  • A View Scan microfilm reader, which allows you to browse through local microfilm records: newspapers that date back to the early 1800s, court records, deeds, and marriage records.
  • The Epson Perfection Pro scanner, with plastic frame adapters that make it easy to capture crisp digital (and printable) images from 35mm slides, film strips, and variously sized photographs and negatives.
  • A copy stand to help you take well-focused lighted images of publications and objects of all shapes and sizes.
  • Our giant map case, located in the Williamson Room. This five-drawered beauty allows us to store most large maps flat, making them easier for you to find and read.
  • An array of online materials, including free in-library use of Ancestry without a subscription and free in-library Affiliate Access to FamilySearch from your free personal account.
  • The Thelma Battle Collection, which includes access to photographs, funeral programs and family files of African Americans in Williamson County from the 1800s through today,
  • The Richard Carlton Fulcher database, which features excerpts of local court records that document persons of African descent in Williamson County from its founding in 1799 until the early 1900s.
  • The Genealogy and Local History database, including newspaper birth announcements and indices to family files, Veterans information, local news and magazine articles, and the Edith Rucker Whitley Collection. The latter consists of more than 2,300 notebooks of genealogical research compiled by Mrs. Whitley during her lifetime, organized by surname
  • A database of Williamson County obituaries compiled by library staff and volunteers.

Really, there is so much more than I can tell you about here.  Are you a Civil War buff or perhaps an aficionado of historic homes?  Do you want to dig deeper into your family tree but need some help getting started?  Do you need to find an old court record or want to discover where a relative is buried?  Perhaps we can help!  It is important to note, however, that we are not professional genealogists.  We don’t guarantee answers, but we do strive to deliver courteous, professional assistance to help you with your ancestry and local history research needs.

Surely there must be a catch? We only have some minor restrictions. To protect our materials, no food or beverages are allowed in Special Collections, and items here are not available for checkout.  You may only access our materials during scheduled department hours: from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, with extended hours until 8:00 p.m. on Thursdays.  The department is closed on Sundays and on scheduled library holidays.

Now that you know what Special Collections is all about, why not plan a visit?  We look forward to meeting you!

Guest Post: Lest We Forget

Thelma Battle

By Thelma Battle

The cultural tradition of funeral services, among many African- American citizens, has been a unique tradition since slavery. Oral history tells us that during slavery times many slaves were not allowed the opportunity to have a funeral or to pay respect to the deceased.  The deceased if fallen dead in the field, for instance was taken, wrapped and a hole was dug, with no funeral or burial rites. The only person to view this process was the digger of the hole. This was not always the case in many other instances of deceased slaves. Williamson County, Tennessee is known for its slave cemeteries, meaning that some slave owners had the decency to see that their slaves had a proper burial; and that loved ones were allowed to attend the burial.

The history of some African American funerals, carry a uniqueness that often interprets the region of habitation.

Thelma Battle’s 2018 Black History Month Exhibit, Lest We Forget, will be open the entire month of February during regular Library hours: M-Th 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., F-Sat. 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Sundays, 1-5:30 p.m.

The cultural tradition of African Americans providing printed funeral programs at the ceremony of a loved one is a unique, yet national among most African Americans.

History tells us that slaves were sold and many slave families were separated forever. This cruel act meant such slaves would never see their loved ones again or have knowledge of who they were. Today the ability to put in writing the life and times concerning the deceased and sharing it with family, friends and loved ones is an expression of freedom. It is a reminder as well as a celebration of “Who You Were” and “Whence You Came”, What You Stood For”.  The order of service, the undertaker, flower girls and pallbearer and cemetery is also announced.

Today many African Americans come together at funerals bearing an oppressed history, but are able to share in the freedom of this day and time; and in doing this act take home a keepsake printed history of the deceased. Such material is often priceless to genealogists tracing family trees.

Lest We Forget: The 2018 Thelma Battle Collection African American Exhibit

Handmade Funeral Program for Mittie Gentry Scruggs

By Marcia Fraser, Special Collections Department

Now, throughout February, the Special Collections department at Williamson County Public Library is hosting the 2018 Thelma Battle Black History Month Photographic Exhibit, “Lest We Forget,” spotlighting the lives of residents in Franklin’s black community who have lived and died in Williamson County. This exhibit features the vast funeral program collection housed in Special Collections as part of the Thelma Battle Family History Collection.

Why funeral programs? Oftentimes, we really don’t get to know a person until he or she dies. Have you ever been to a funeral, or read an obituary, and realized there were important things about that person that you didn’t even know? Maybe you weren’t aware of some of the ways he participated in the community, or who his family connections are. This is what makes funeral programs and/or obituaries so valuable. If you’re researching your family history, they’re absolute gold!

Obituaries tell us a lot. Things like a person’s full name, his parents’ names, when he was born, who his children and grandchildren are, who predeceased him, who survived him, what he did for a living, when he died, and sometimes why. A funeral program gives you that and more – who preached the service, who the pall bearers and flower bearers were, what scripture was read, which songs were sung. A funeral program can give you the family and friend connections of the deceased. That’s a lot of information to find in one place, and if you’re researching your genealogy, it could give you the very link you need to connect you from one generation to the next on the family tree.

Mittie Gentry Scruggs and husband Forrest Scruggs

We now have over 1200 funeral programs from our local black community in Special Collections, and we’re still collecting. They are filed alphabetically in notebooks, and also digitized in our data files, so they’re available for the cost of a copy, ten cents a page. We are always seeking ways to enlarge our collection and so we invite you to share copies of programs you have that we don’t. If you have family funeral programs or obituaries you can share, we would love for you to bring them in and allow us to copy them and add them to our collection. Talk to one of the librarians in Special Collections to see if you have a program we need. An index of names in our current collection is available to exhibit attendees to search.

This year’s photograph exhibit will also include a new oral history film about Ms. Battle’s work as a grassroots historian, “Thelma’s Battle; Preserving African-American History in Franklin, Tennessee.” The film will be available for viewing as part of the exhibit.

The exhibit is held on the 2nd floor of the library in the Special Collections department at 1314 Columbia Ave. in Franklin, and will run from Feb. 1st – 28th. There will also be displays in the upstairs and downstairs display cases near the elevators. For more information, call 615/525-1246.

Excerpt from the funeral program of Mittie Gentry Scruggs

Finding Your Family on Census Records Through Ancestry.com

by Dorris Douglass, Special Collections Librarian

CensusRecordUse of Ancestry.com is free In the Special Collections Department and to help you use it, here are some very important tips to remember.

  • Pay absolutely no attention to spelling! Census takers couldn’t spell. This researcher has seen the name Jacob spelled “Jacup” on the census.
  • Pay close attention to extra people with a different last name in a household. Frequently those listed as “boarder” were aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews and especially mothers-in-law.
  • Pay close attention to who is living next door. The guys either married the gal next door or their first cousin. This researcher looked for an ancestor for 10 years only to find him living next door to a grandson by a different last name.
  • Be aware that ages recorded in the census can be 2 to 3 years off. However, usually the younger the closer to the truth. By the time one got to their 80’s either he or his family members had forgotten how old he really was.
  • Know the abbreviations for Men’s first names: Alexr= Alexander, Benj = Benjamin, Geo =George, Hy=Henry, Jas = James, Jno =John ( Why I have no idea), Patk=Patrick, Robt= Robert Thos=Thomas, Wm=William. The last letter of the longer abbreviation are usually written as a superscripts, so that you might see only the Tho for Thomas unless you look carefully for the little tiny s. Periods were usually omitted after the abbreviation.
  • Know common nicknames and know that nicknames often rhyme. Some are very tricky.
    • Belle=Isabel, Mable, Sybil;
    • Beth, Betty, Betsy, Bessie =Elizabeth;
    • Biddy, Bridey= Bridget;
    • Bill = William, rhymes with Will;
    • Cal=Caleb, Calvin;
    • Cate (old spelling) =Catherine;
    • Carrie= Carololine;
    • Carey= Charles (modern nickname Chuck);
    • Cephus=Josephus;
    • Daisey = Margaret ( for a Queen Margaret whose favorite flower was a daisy);
    • Dick = Richard, rhymes with Rick;
    • Dollie, Dolly, Doll = Dorothy;
    • Duke=Marmaduke;
    • Ed, Ned, Ted =Edward, Edmond;
    • Elsie= Elizabeth:
    • Ella, Ellie, Nelly = Elle , but also Helen;
    • Etta, Nettie = Henrietta;
    • Fee = Felix;
    • Hi = Hiram,
    • Jack = John;
    • Kit = Christopher,
    • Lois= Louise,
    • Lottie = Charlotte;
    • Ky = Hezekiah;
    • Mae, May, Molly, Polly =Mary;
    • Mag, Maggie, Meg, Peg, Peggy = Margaret;
    • Mattie, Patty, Patsy = Martha;
    • Maud =Magdalene,
    • Maude (male) = Mordichi;
    • Nancy=Hannah,
    • Neil, Connie,=Cornelius;
    • Sallie, Sally = Sarah,
    • Stella = Estel, Esther;
    • Sukey ,Susan, = Susannah (Suckey, African American 1870/ 80 = a former slave midwife who took care of the sucklings);
    • Ted = Theodore (but can be = Edward).

Come join us to hunt for your ancestors!

Adventures in Digital Storage (in honor of Preservation Week)

By Lance Hickerson, Reference Department

“Today, the average household creates enough data to fill 65 iPhones (32gb) per year. In 2020, this will grow to 318 iPhones.”

This is a conclusion from the seventh EMC Digital Universe study at Hopkinton, Massachusetts highlighting a special concern with how “data is outpacing storage. The world’s amount of available storage capacity (i.e., unused bytes) across all media types is growing slower than the digital universe.”

Concerns about digital storage and preservation are not new, but they are now more pressing. Michael Irving, of New Atlas, explains how “even the best of our current range of devices are only relatively short-term solutions to the problem. Hard drives, and optical storage such as DVDs and Blu-Ray discs, are vulnerable to damage and degradation, with a life expectancy of a few decades at best.”   Irving continues:

Scientists are increasingly looking to nature’s hard drive, DNA, as a potential solution to both the capacity and longevity problems. As our own bodies demonstrate, DNA is an incredibly dense storage medium, potentially squeezing in a mind-boggling 5.5 petabits (125,000 GB) of information per cubic millimeter. By that measure, according to University of Washington professor, Luis Ceze, all 700 exabytes of today’s accessible internet would fit into a space the size of a shoebox. You could then tuck that shoebox away in a vault for thousands of years, and the DNA-stored data would remain intact.

Indeed, digital storage modeled on DNA is a promising solution. But until it becomes more than experimental, what should we do in the meantime? For instance, what if you have just been chosen as the archivist for a massive collection of family photographs? How would you choose to store the data? In addition to preserving the actual physical photos, what is the best approach from a digital point of view? After the photos are scanned, what is the best way to store them as digital documents?

A helpful answer comes from Denise May Levenick, who inherited her family photo treasures. She shares tips and techniques for preserving a collection in her latest book, How to Archive Family Photos: A step by step guide to organize and share your photos digitally (Family Tree Books: Cincinatti, 2015. In our library nonfiction section under 745.593 May). It is good to keep in mind that, although focusing on photos, the principles she outlines apply to more than photo collections.

One important decision for digital material concerns negotiating different file formats. Ms. Levenich explains about using JPG and TIFF files.

JPG is a file format that uses compression when saving files and is called a lossy file format because repeated opening and saving of JPG files deteriorates the image quality over time.   TIFF is a file format that does not use compression when saving files and is considered a lossless format because it maintains its quality over time.

What this means for preservation is that the TIFF lossless format better maintains the digital data than the JPG format, which loses quality with use. One concern with TIFF files, however, is that TIFF is sometimes unreadable by various programs. In this case, our staff librarian photo buff, Rebecca Tischler, recommends saving picture files in PNG. PNG, pronounced “ping,” stands for the Portable Network Graphics format which compresses information in a lossless manner, meaning all the image information is there when the PNG file is decompressed. Further it neither degrades nor loses information with saving, restoring, or resaving like the JPG. Don’t count out the JPG, however, as it has its uses too, one being the JPG can preserve a lot more color than the PNG.

Once your format is chosen, it is necessary to back up your photo files. Ms. Levenick recommends the 3-2-1 rule.

  • 3 Copies
  • 2 different media
  • 1 copy stored off-site

She explains, “Many different combinations will provide a good backup solution, but the key to a great backup system is to spread out your copies across different media and different storage locations. When hurricanes and tornadoes wipe out a home and family photo collection, it’s reassuring to know that digital copies are safe in the cloud, or stashed at a relative’s home in another state. Don’t wait for a disaster to safeguard your precious family memories. Practice the 3-2-1 Backup rule regularly, especially after a major scanning session.”

 


Sources:

Heritage Display March 2017

By Rebecca Tischler, Reference Department

Last Month, we had an interactive display upstairs. Patrons could add their ancestry to a world map and see where some of their neighbors came from as well.  Some had many ancestries, and some only had one, but it was interesting to see how diverse our patrons were.

And those who didn’t know their background, we pointed them to the Special Collections department, where patrons can get some help doing genealogical research with databases such as Ancestry.com and HeritageQuest.  If you want to know more about where your family comes from, ask one of our wonderful Special Collections Librarians for help.

But for now, take a look at all the responses that were left at the display.

  1. English, Welsh, Polish, German, French, Scandinavian, Scottish
  2. Welsh
  3. Greek, English
  4. Snowbeast (AKA Canadian)
  5. Venezuela
  6. Indian
  7. Hispanic
  8. British
  9. Tamil, Hindi
  10. Prussia, Austria, Germany
  11. Italy, Germany
  12. Norwegian, German
  13. African American, German
  14. German, Prussian, Polish
  15. Scottish
  16. Thai
  17. English, Welsh, Italian
  18. Tamil, Hindi
  19. Alien
  20. Chinese
  21. China
  22. English, Scottish, Norman French
  23. Mongolia
  24. French, Great Britain
  25. German
  26. Brazilian
  27. Mexican, Spanish
  28. Mexican
  29. French, Mexican
  30. Italy, Germany, Europe
  31. English, Irish
  32. German, French, Irish
  33. Cuba
  34. Armenian
  35. Scottish, English, French
  36. Swedish, German
  37. Deutschland
  38. Swiss-German, English
  39. French, Irish
  40. Polish, English, Irish
  41. China
  42. Chinese, Hunan
  43. Thai, Chinese
  44. German, Swiss
  45. Antarctican
  46. Kiwi
  47. Canadian
  48. Pennsylvania Dutch
  49. Ireland, Germany
  50. Guatemala
  51. At this library we found out the Hill family from Texas is the Hill family from ESSEX U.K.!
  52. Irish, Italian
  53. Norwegian, Icelandic
  54. Czech, Dutch, German, English
  55. Norwegian, French, Polish
  56. Brazilian, Italian, Irish, English
  57. Irish, German
  58. Mexican
  59. Tartar Kazakhstan
  60. Italy
  61. Swedish, English, Scottish, Irish
  62. Scottish, Scandinavian, Polynesian, German
  63. Mexicana Latin of African and Spanish ancestry
  64. Venezuela, Peru
  65. Black, Irish, Blackfoot
  66. Balkar
  67. Cherokee, English, French, Scottish, Irish, German, Swiss, Nordic
  68. Germany
  69. Mexico
  70. Mexican
  71. Spanish, Mexican
  72. Columbian
  73. Portuguese, Spanish, Brazilian
  74. Mexican
  75. Indian, German, Dutch, English
  76. Italy
  77. Syrian
  78. European
  79. Vietnamese
  80. Anglo-Irish, German-Polish
  81. Scottish, Welsh, English
  82. Spanish, Scottish, French, Polish, Welsh, Irish
  83. Haitian
  84. Irish, Cherokee
  85. Spanish, Italian, Greek, English, Scottish, Irish, Moroccan
  86. Indian, Irish, German, English
  87. German, English, Irish, Dutch
  88. Spanish, Scottish, Irish, English, Danish, German, French, Ecuadorian, Incan
  89. Ghanaian, Haitian
  90. German, Irish, Scottish
  91. English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, French, Swiss German, Cherokee
  92. Haiti
  93. Celts, France, Ireland, England/Wales
  94. French, Scottish, Cherokee
  95. Canadian
  96. Italian
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