Genealogy Preservation–An Ongoing Need

I just checked in at Leland and Patty Meitzler’s and discovered that several days running water poured into their basement–from an “inoperable” sprinkling system.  I have already shared what happened when water poured into my basement.

Another MAJOR news item was my objective.

Everton’s Genealogical Helper is now under  new management–with Leland Meitzler as editor of the magazine.  And the Everton Library, boxed up and stored away last year until a new location could be found for it, will soon be available for public use.

I grew up in genealogy with the Helper.  Its pages kept me in contact with new genealogies, record sources that were being indexed, address changes for libraries and archives, how-to articles that gave complicated research an easy button. 

When Leland became editor, we got an honest and candid view of the genealogy world and the rapid changes taking place throughout the world. Leland brought onboard Bill Dollarhide and his genius for finding new content on websites, we would never otherwise check. Leland re-printed the best of’s news announcements for those who are not computer geeks–so you did not miss a change or a source or a trend.  

Donna Potter Phillips watched out for the beginners among us.  Horst Reschke solved German problems.   Ruth Manness solved Scandinavian problems.   Genealogists across the country, who had something important to share with us all, submitted how-to articles worth the reading.    

Things got rocky last year and into 2009:  with both the Genealogical Helper and the GenealogyBlog.  So the best discovery of all, at the Logan (Utah)  Family History Expo 9 May 2009, was the NEWS that the magazine had a new owner (who is both a business man and a working genealogist) and that Leland had agreed to continue as editor of the Helper.

While the Everton Library was open those few months, Director Josh and his volunteers, prepared an online index to family histories and family periodicals.  More than once, I was able to bust a dead-end lineage wide open using that index and the items I found close to home!  Now, that really significant index will be available again.  Online.

And the books and periodicals behind the index will be available for searching at the Logan Public Library–don’t bother looking, yet, for the Library Home Page does not announce the news.  Yet.

Genealogy Preservation–An Ongoing Need!

Roadside Markers–you know those wood posts and etched-metal signs and rock formations with bronze placques along local roads that focused your attention on historical and significant events happening there?  

Markers began to appear in the 1920’s.  Their purpose was to attract tourists and eaqrly automobile owners out joy-riding on a Sunday afternoon.  You read them.  I read them.  We took photos of them to put with our genealogies and family histories.

Well…it seems that many of them were not based on fact!  They repeated old legends, myths, hearsay, and rumors.  Because they were not factual, several states, led by Virginia and Maryland, are posting new markers.  

Virginia has added over 400 signs and 900 markers.  Maryland has added 32 new posts to the more than 800.  Included among the new markers are stories of average citizens and their historical contributions and honorable deeds.  

But…trust me.  The old legends and myths will die hard.  They will still be repeated and printed in news stories and family histories.  Let’s face it–we love a good story–true or not.

Record Preservation and Access

David Rencher, the new Chief Genealogical Officer of FamilySearch, and an accomplished researcher with extensive knowledge of technology and its genealogy applications as well as the importance of the original documents, wrote his predictions on “The Future of Genealogy?” in Heritage Quest Magazine (Nov-Dec 1998): 21-22.  This is what he said then (and still believes today):

Perhaps future genealogy’s greatest threat lies in what records will be available for searching.  Massive electronic databases being created to record events that for the last four to seven hundred years have been on paper or vellum are now subject to short life spans.

Both the failure to preserve the electronic copy, and the inability of future hardware to read the databases may spell doom to the records to be preserved for research in the 21st Century and beyond.  Masses of people now have unlisted telephone numbers, thus directories that were once a staple of locating street addresses for census searches will be reduced to less than 50% effectiveness.

Local record custodians are often ignorant of the record retention schedules of their records and are unwilling to work with state officials to have the records transferred to archival quality facilities.  Remember that microfilming does not preserve the record, it only makes a copy.  If the original microfilm negative becomes unreadable, another copy must be made. 

Zip Discs Do Not Retain Their Data Nor Their Photos

Photos that I burned 4-5 years ago on zip discs for family histories are losing their images.  And zip drives, which were common in computers both inside and extra, are hard to find.

As electronic media change, so must the data we have stored on the old media change or be lost.  Thomas Jefferson’s focus was sharp:  he was talking about the loss of the original records. Not copies made along the way.  See previous Post, 8 May 2009, ” The Lost cannot be recovered….”   Your favorite genealogist, Arlene Eakle.

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