It is great to get back to Arline's papers after a long hiatus (getting son married, celebrating holidays, back to work teaching etc.) Thinking about editing processes and am now reading Mary-Jo Kline A Guide to Documentary Editing. The first thing I learn is that every project should start with a Control File to give each item an acquisition number and enter in an inventory. I hoped I could avoid this step, but perhaps it would be useful.
After spending nearly the entire summer on this project, I think I am beginning to get a grasp of the problem, and it isn't pretty. Just when I think I have determined a good system for filing the AAK Papers, I realize that I need more information about someone named in a letter. Then, off I go to track them down in a Census record or online search, and pretty soon my desk is covered in more paper without a home.
I have at least two projects here: 1) Family Genealogy -- who, related to whom, etc; 2) A Biography or Family History -- the AAK Papers to inventory, archive, transcribe, and work with.
Project #1 -- generates a mass of paper: census copies and extracts, notes, original and copies of vitals from the AAK papers
Project #2 -- consists of all original documents needing archival attention NOW
Most genealogy books for beginners seem to address a project from the perspective of #1, with #2 as a sideline. I have come into the Family Genealogy Project through the Biographical Project, so my needs are somewhat different.
Funny how it has taken me over two months to figure out how to approach this. But I suppose I shouldn't be too disappointed -- my goal this summer was to investigate and select a research method, test it, and start using it. Progress thus far:
- Update Legacy, review sourcing guidelines
- Start Blog as a Journal of my project
- Join Legacy Users Group, learned more about sourcing, filing, etc
- Decide to scan all original documents
- buy new scanner
- decide on file format
- Investigate database programs
- test byGones
- test Clooz
- test askSam
- build entry forms in askSam
- buy askSam
- revise entry forms
- decide to use very simple DocumentArchive form
- add fields for Entry Date, Place letter written from
- will try scanning documents, linking to docs in folder located in askSam directory folder
- Investigate and decide on file format for images
- TIFF for photos
- why not PDF for letters?
- Determine Workflow for handling documents
It is a real challenge to keep a record of searches and research goals, but I can see that this entire project will only be as good as those records. Last week I didn't get too much done, but did manage a few rather random searches; at least they have familiarized me with the look and information available on different records.
My goals this week
- get back into the AskSam database and input some of the information I am finding
- set up research records either in Legacy or on paper
Mom has a death certificate for Minnie Chamblin Kinsel listing Samuel and Mercy Ann Winsor as her parents, but who are Mercy Ann's parents?
I found a death record for a Mercy Chamberlin in KC, Missouri -- is this our Mercy Ann? Went online to see if I could locate where she was living; place of death listed as 12th and Hartesty. Google Aerial map showed a big cemetery only a block away... I checked it out, and found it is a very old cemetery. So, here is another possibility. Perhaps Mercy Ann was buried there. Worth looking into.
That didn't take long -- they have a list of surnames online. No Chamblin or Chamberlin, Samuel or Mercy. But worth checking other cemeteries!
It could be a little game -- how much information can I find for free! I went to the Pubic Library and found out that my library card will give access to the heritagequest databases which include all the US Census reports. Unfortunately, the local library is having a problem with the database so I renewed my LA card and accessed it through that account.
I already found out by searching ancestry.com that there was info available; just didn't want to subscribe quite yet. A few more searches and I found two useful pieces -
1880 Census - Samuel Chamblin and wife Mercy with children Minny, Maud, Norman
1910 Census - Roy Paulen and wife Arline with child Lucile
The next thing will be to chase either vital statistics or try to get names, places for Chamblin/Winsor parents.
Also tweaked the database b/c the filenames weren't meshing with other entry forms - they all need to share similar field data in order to search and extract the info effectively. Deleted dedicated address fields, then added city, state. This family moved around so much I think those fields will prove to be very useful. Organized letters 1910-1920 in chronological order, although I know there will be more as I keep working with the boxes.
It's done! It has taken ALL day, but I now have a workable, attractive database to use in working with the AAK Papers. It did take me some time to figure out how to set up the askSam entry form -- hampered I am sure by the medication I am taking for my back pain and the numerous breaks to relieve the pressure on same -- but it seems to be pretty workable. I have the standard template entry forms for web pages, etc. and also my customized entry form for letters.
This will allow me to give each letter an Item # (just for the purpose of keeping track of how much work I am doing!) as well as a File ID. This is the actual File Number I will use in filing the letter. I have decided to use the archival paper file folders (very thin) one per letter keeping the envelope and letter sheets together. I will try to put up to five or so of these paper file folders in one manila archival file folder. Each paper file folder will show the FILE ID and TO/FROM.
I am rather pleased with the fields I have set up:
In addition to Entry Date, Type (family, personal, business etc), I also have
Letter Date, To, From
People, Places, Events, Themes, notes
Envelope Adressee, Return, Postmark
I plan to do an overview of the letter, and then, if there is additional interest, I will go back and abstract or transcribe the letter adding to the CONTENTS field.
I am hopeful that I will be able to pull out a chronology as well as family info from this data.
Probably won't do much tomorrw as the SoCal Quilt Run is on again and I plan to hit the road as long as my back holds out!
This could become a web of minutiae, which I suppose, is a the basic foundation of research anyway, but I am determined to keep the old Cub Scout Motto in mind - KISS (Keep It Simple, Silly).
According to Organizing & Preserving Your Heirloom Documents (Kathleen Scott Sturdevant) I am moving forward in a reasonable fashion. The letters and papers are mostly out of corrugated cardboard boxes and stored in archival file boxes and folders. The original order had been lost when papers were transferred from the original trunk at Auntie's house to boxes in Mom's condo, so I feel alright about rearranging them again. Looking though the contents again, it looks like there is quite a variety... mostly correspondence, but also quite a bit of handwritten family history notes and other miscellaneous.
Following along with Sturdevant's suggestions:
- Define the nature and name of the collection -- The Arline Allen Kinsel Papers. I think I will use Arline's maiden name because the multiple marriages could be confusing.
- Inventory the contents -- This is difficult. There are so many items. I will use the askSam database for the inventory, and assign abbreviations and ID numbers. I think I could initially file by these ID numbers and then when all items are inventoried, I could assign a File # and refile chronologically within each series (AAK, Family Correspondence). This sounds like a lot of work, but I know that I will keep finding more letters and papers, so it just doesn't seem possible to file them chronologically right now. A thought: maybe I could use a decimal ID number that would allow for additional entries: AAK, Family Corr. 1905.02.01.01 (year, month, date, item number). This might do the double duty of Inventory and File Number. I should have a field in askSam for this.
- Determine the series within the collection - Series refers to the subdivisions, categories, or types of documents. I should have a field in askSam for this, too. Some of the categories are: correspondence - family, business, personal, general. What do I do with letters to Mercy from Minnie. I guess those are Family, but are they filed chronologically or in separate boxes?
- Document the provenance - ok, I have to write this up.
- Locate additional contents - this will be ongoing
- Remove and replace - newspapers are the big offender here, they need to isolated
- Establish the order of the series within the collection - huh? I think this means that I should pull out different authors, although I do think all letters TO/FROM AAK should be in one file. This includes business or personal correspondence. It will help in figuring out what was going on with her in a chronological way.
- Label folders - KSS suggests importance, alpha, chrono order using labels COLLECTION ABBREVIATION: Series: Specific Folder Name or Number.
- Date and cross-reference folders - ok
- Process, store, and label relevant materials such as ephemera and memorabilia - a BIG job
- Maintain these systems and procedures! - whew
So, we are related to the Belonger Bros. by marriage -- Carrie Viles married Joe Blonger, later separated and divorced. It was her second marriage, as she was a widow. This in an email forwarded by Mom, written by one of the current-day Belonger Bros.
Just in -- Getting it Right. Lots of basic info on how to enter names, dates, places, etc. Wish I had this a few years ago, but I think it will be helpful.
Talked with Dede today and she told me about Mom's original blog post. I can't imagine how she found their website, but she has a post there looking for for long lost relatives.Worked my way through the Legacy training video and entered some info. Still have to go back and add sources.
First day back from the Lake and I am rediscovering the work I did in 2004 with the Brown papers. They are in a mess. Looks like I never moved Legacy Family Tree to the new computer so I bought the update and did that today. Have to watch the video training all over again as I can't remember how to enter the data.
Another call from Mom -- the lady from New Mexico called her and talked for over an hour. It turns out that she must be related to Arline Brown's cousin Carrie. She told Mom all about the family foundation and wants Mom to come out for the 50th Anniversary celebration next year. Mom is ready to buy a plane ticket.I am checking out database programs to organize the Brown letters and misc. So far it looks like the program AskSam will do the trick.
We are spending the 4th at the Lake and I have received two phone calls already from Mom about "the family history." She is surfing the web and has been finding people who she thinks are actually our relatives. In fact, she is already planning a grand family reunion. One long-lost relation is a fellow from Montana who "owns" the Montana internet server and another is a lady from New Mexico of some relation to a cousin.
It is now becoming imperative that I track down and verify these relatives before we are all eating potato salad and watermelon together. Could we be cited as imposters if we aren't really related?