Genealogy from the perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon, LDS)

Friday, April 20, 2018

A Family History Mission: Working At the Archives

Archival storage shelves in the Maryland State Archives
No. 53

Note: You can do a Google search for "A Family History Mission James Tanner" to see all the previous posts in this ongoing series. You can also search for "James Tanner genealogy" and find them or click back through all the posts.

One thing that does become clear after almost five months of serving as a Record Preservation Specialist for FamilySearch as a Senior Missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that it is hard work. I am realizing that I was getting tired after 8 hours or so of work at the Maryland State Archives digitizing and preparing documents. Many days, I find I have to crash and take a half hour nap when we get back to our apartment so I can keep going into the evening.

I have been visiting the local Annapolis Family History Center as much as possible, usually on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. They are open during the day, but of course, we are working at the Archives. As has been my experience with many Family History Centers, it takes a significant effort on the part of the volunteer staff and their supporting Stake organizations to publicize the Family History Center so members and others will come and use the facility. What I have noticed, however, that absent classes and other outreach programs, the Family History Centers are little used. This is most likely due to the fact that much of the information needed for research is available online.

Now that we have been serving for a while, we are pretty much down to a routine. What does happen from time to time to make life interesting is the challenge of digitizing a book that is falling apart from age and use. Here is a recent example:

Here is a closer look at the issues involved in digitizing this record.

At some time in the past, attempts were made to "fix" the problem by using sticky tape and that has now dried and become discolored. The pages of this book were so brittle that they were falling apart. We carefully digitized each page. The benefit of digitization is that the inevitable loss of this book's contents has now been delayed indefinitely. This example does NOT show any lack of care on the part of the Archives, it is a natural process that was made worse by the use of the book from the time it was created. This damage shows that the book was heavily used until it literally fell apart.

This book took almost an entire day to digitize.

As we work in the Archives, our appreciation for the importance of helping to preserve these priceless genealogically important documents increases every day. 

1 comment:

  1. As always you guys are the best! You may remember that we are teaching beginning classes in public libraries through out the the Dallas Tx. People are always amazed as I show them the work you and so many other are doing. We have taught 100s people, mostly non-members, and everyone of them is grateful for what your doing. Please pass along their thanks to our team.