Friday, September 11, 2015

Learn about the Civil War in a series of 4 minute National Park Service videos

The Civil War Trust, part of the National Park Service, has recorded a series of four minute videos about battles, battle fields, battle field preservation, and more.

The centenary of the Civil War triggered or encouraged a exploration and preservation of battle fields. Civil War Scholarship increased along with the study of primary sources and landscapes.

The Sesquicentennial  of the Civil War, which is just ending this year, was another turning point in the study of the war and the preservation of materials.

Both the Civil War Trust and the National Park Service have lots of materials about the Civil War, Battles and Skirmishes, and Military Units and Soldiers, and even Places that were affected by the war. Take some time to explore these valuable online resources.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Seeing the Past

Pursuing Local History and Genealogy projects means exploring the past. Researchers examine records, journals, diaries, newspapers, and books to learn what happened in years gone by, to understand how people experienced events, and, most of all, how people lived. What better way to learn about the past than by studying photographs. After all, photographs freeze the past, freeze events so anyone can study a building, person, or event at that moment in time.  

Sarah Weatherwax,  a photography curator at the Library Company of Philadelphia, writes about how early photography was received in 1839 Philadelphia. Her piece appears in the blog "O Say Can You See?" of the National Museum of American History, part of the Smithsonian Museums.   

Sarah Weatherwax,. “A Philadelphia Snapshot From When Daguerreotypes Were New” O Say Can You See? Blog (Sept 1, 2015): Pt 1  Pt 2 

If you want to read more about Daguerreotypes, check out the Daguerreian Society  or look at more examples held by the Library of Congress

If you want to learn more about Early Photographic Processes, the Smithsonian is an excellent place to start.
Sarah Kate Gillespie speaks about early photography to the Smithsonian (2011) in 4 short lectures entitled: 'One Thing New Under the Sun: Morse, Draper, and the Cross-Currents of Early American Photography'

Take a look at the articles and watch the lectures, then explore photographs in your collection. How do they document the past? What other items in your archive, museum, or library show a past that is long gone or much modified?

One Thing New Under the Sun: Morse, Draper, and the Cross-Currents of Early American Photography

One Thing New Under the Sun: Morse, Draper, and the Cross-Currents of Early American Photography

Monday, August 31, 2015

Genealogy Blogs

One of the most difficult things about working in Genealogy & Local History is keeping current. I subscribe to a number of blogs and newsletters. Some of the announcements and information overlaps, but I realize it's better to have the overlap than to miss something. 

Below are some websites, blogs and newsletters you can follow. The list is in no particular order or ranking. Of course, there are many others, and I'm not endorsing any of them.

Genealogy Bank
Ancestry Blog Updates  
Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter
Upfront with NGS (National Genealogical Society) 
New York Genealogy and Biographical Society Blog
Family Tree Magazine Newsletter
Family Search Blog
Fold3 Blog
New England Historic Genealogical Society has a newsletter AND 
American (NEHGS databases and newsletter)

Of course, there are many societies, organizations, and newsletters.
I'd love to hear about others that you think are worth reading each day or week.


Monday, October 27, 2014

Local History from historical texts

For those of you who think genealogy and local history is about mining the records, here's a fascinating publication from 1610 about the plantation in Ulster (Ireland) by the English.
The Great Parchment Book has been conserved and is now digitized and searchable. If your ancestor is from Ireland, you might find their name in this text. Or you could study the history of the community through the manuscript and the story it tells.

While I am more likely to use this piece in my Rare Book Librarianship / History of the Book course, it also pertains to a course on the types of documents historians use to study local history.

What do you think?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Mapping swaths of history

I stumbled across this post about Ed McCarthy who is mapping the entire history of Boston. What a job! Can you imagine deciding what belongs on a map? Finding the map and then determining how to document it, connecting event to map? If this was for my class, we'd have to do some serious brainstorming about types of events, types of maps, display, "collection development", access points, indexing, and so much more. Take a look at the article. How would you approach mapping and documenting your community?

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Overwhelmed by Maps

I just finished recording too many lectures about maps for the genealogy class. I guess the number of lectures reflects both the complexity and diversity of the topic, and my passion for maps.
As I was perusing my e-mail this morning, I noticed the new JSTOR DAILY newsletter. In it was an article about maps aptly titled, "Finding Your Place by Looking at Maps"  I couldn't resist adding the column to next week's session.

Can you find your place on the map?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Archives Reading Rooms and the Treasures Within

What's hiding in our archives and record centers? Why do researchers come seeking manuscripts, records, and that oh so difficult to find fact? Over the decades, our cultural institutions, particularly archives, special collections, and records centers have become repositories for historically significant materials. They hold records of government actions and reports, documents that confirm dates of birth, marriage, divorce, death, crimes, and more. There are records from organizations that document how the group grew, expanded, and dissolved. Along the way, these repositories collected maps, manuscripts (published and unpublished), drawings and blueprints, photographs, movies, and oral histories. Take together these records tell a story of our society from a variety of perspectives.

As we embark on a research project this semester, you will have your own research experiences, find pieces of forgotten puzzles and little known facts. You'll be sharing those adventures with your fellow classmates and with me. In the meantime, if you want to read about someone else's adventures in the archives check out Arlette Farge's The Allure of the Archives (The Lewis Walpole Series in Eighteenth-C) . Translated by Thomas Scott-Railton. Forward by Natalie Zemon Davis. (New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 2013.)

Happy hunting.