24 August 2014

Hurricane Program Thurs., Aug. 28th

Schedule reminder:  The BDC Research Room is closed from Noon to 1 pm on Mon., Aug. 25th.  Regular hours, that is, 10 am - 5 pm, resume on Tues., Aug. 26th.

20 August 2014

Make Plans To Attend These BDC@ The Branches Programs

Throughout the year, the Beaufort District Collection brings in authors and speakers who address local history, archaeology, Gullah culture, genealogy, natural history and preservation issues. Some programs are held on evenings and/or weekends at various locations within the library system to accommodate working families and middle and high school students. 

Next week, the evening of Thursday, August 28th, be sure to come to the presentation about the worst natural disaster to ever strike Beaufort County. 
 We tackle the topic of digital preservation on Thursday, September 4th:
  •  Do you keep family pictures on your cell phone, Instagram, or digital camera? 
  • Are you taking steps now to preserve those images for the future?  
  •  Join the Digital Preservation Hobbyist Group to learn about how to preserve digital family heirlooms. 
  • This free BDC@ St. Helena Branch Library program is open to anyone over age 12 interested in making sure that digital graduation image survives to 2020.
  • The Group meets at 2 pm. 
  • Special focus: Creating useful metadata for your images - so you can easily find them! 
We are delighted to be involved in the Beaufort Book Club on Thursday, September 18th. Teresa Bruce, author of The Other Mother, mined the journals and images of the Byrne Miller Collection of the Beaufort District Collection as both source and inspiration to provide context to the relationship she had with this extraordinary woman. I will bring along selected items from the Byrne Miller Collection to display. Together we will discuss the book and how special collection materials and archives can support writers during the Beaufort Branch Book Club meeting at 5:30 pm. Please note: The group will gather in the 2nd floor lobby just outside our Research Room.
Reminder: The Research Room is closed for lunch, Aug. 19 through Aug. 25th.  Visit us 10 am - Noon and 1 pm - 5pm during this period. Regular hours resume Tues., Aug. 26th. 

17 August 2014

How To Read An Obituary: Genealogy Tip of the Day - Expanded

Michael John Neill is one of my "go to" family history bloggers as he gives both new and veteran researchers useful tips. I pick and choose among his many fine hints to share with BDC customers, both in house and those of you whom I may never personally meet, oftentimes expanding on his hints by using examples from our own resources and applicable to Beaufort County's long and storied history. If you're interested in genealogy research techniques in general, you may want to sign up to get e-mails or a RSS feed for his "Genealogy Tip of the Day" blog. I particularly like this recent post: 

Genealogy Tip of the Day: Every Sentence: The next time you read an old obituary that you think is not helpful, stop at the end of every sentence. Ask yourself:
  • would this fact have generated a record?
  • have I looked for those records generated by the facts in this obituary?
  • how would the informant have known this detail?
  • is there a chance this statement is correct?
  • are the details in chronological order?
  • would one person have had first hand knowledge of all this information?
  • are there any details in this obituary that are inconsistent?

You could test yourself with this obituary from our card files about the drowning of Maj. Charles Pinckney Elliott in 1943.
Among the clues are his military service during the Great War, the location of his burial site, and that brothers married sisters in the immediately preceding previous generation, (i.e., that's how one gets three double-first cousins). Since it is purported that he tried to volunteer for World War II as an octogenarian, it might be fun to track down that rejection letter!

What clues are hidden in the obituary for Dr. Joseph Mellichamp that would further your research?
  • He was a medical doctor. Are there any databases in Ancestry Library Edition or FamilySearch that pertain to medical doctors?
U.S., Deceased Physician File (AMA), 1864-1968, p. 533 shows
  • His death occurred in Charleston County in 1903.  Was there a death certificate? 
Although South Carolina didn't require death certificates until 1915, Charleston and Spartanburg counties kept some local records of deaths before then.  Fortunately, Ancestry Library Edition database (available inside our facilities) has digital versions of the Charleston County death documents in the "South Carolina Death Records, 1821-1960" series. 

Charleston County Probate Court has some retrospective records of wills and estates for the period posted online. Dr. Joseph Hinson Mellichamp is not among the individuals surnamed "Mellichamp."
  • Since his funeral was at Grace Church, Charleston, is there a Charleston area newspaper announcement about his death, too? Because Dr. Mellichamp was from Bluffton, it would not hurt to check the Savannah area newspapers as well. 
  • Does the church have an archives that could indicate whether or not he was member of that congregation?  etc.

Every document you uncover during your quest to learn more about your ancestors, not just obituaries, deserves this interrogatory treatment!Your ultimate goal is to flesh out your past as fully as possible.  That is ever so much more fun than a "begatting" list similar to the one in the first chapter of St. Matthew.

Reminder of Schedule Adjustment, Aug. 19 - Aug. 25:  The Research Room is open 10 am - Noon and 1 pm - 5 pm Tues., Aug. 19 through Mon., Aug. 25th.  The Research Room will be closed for lunchtime due to a shortage of staff. Regular hours resume Tues., August 26th.  The 'Virtual BDC' remains open 24/7/365. (Find it under the "Local History" tab on the Library system's homepage.)

13 August 2014

Digital Copies Protect Fragile Original Documents

The Port Royal Experiment, defined as "an early humanitarian effort to prepare the former slaves of the South Carolina Sea Islands for inclusion as free citizens in American public life" by the South Carolina Encyclopedia, was a unique feature of our local past. Because we have a fragile printed copy of the First Annual Report of the Port Royal Relief Committee presented at a public meeting in Concert Hall, Chestnut St., Philadelphia, March 26th, 1863 in our holdings, we refer researchers to the digital copy on the Internet Archive at https://archive.org/details/firstannualrepor00port. Why? To preserve the original for use in the future. It's a quite simple equation: Less physical handling = less potential damage to fragile documents. 

The Internet Archive, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, is building a digital library of Internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form. Like many paper-based libraries, the Internet Archive provides free access to researchers, historians, scholars, the print disabled, and the general public.  It has been doing digital preservation since 1996 by offering permanent access to historical collections that exist in digital format. Now the Internet Archive includes texts, audio, moving images, and software as well as archived web pages and provides specialized services for adaptive reading and information access for the blind and other persons with disabilities. 

HathiTrust Digital Library is a digital preservation repository and highly functional access platform that started in California in 2008.  It provides long-term preservation and access services for public domain and in copyright content from a variety of sources, including Google, the Internet Archive, Microsoft, and in-house partner institution initiatives. The primary community that HathiTrust serves are the members (faculty, students, and users) of its partners libraries, but the materials in HathiTrust are available to all to the extent permitted by law and contracts, providing the published record as a public good to users around the world.

We often check the Internet Archive and the HathiTrust Digital Library for digital versions of the fragile and historic items we hold in trust for the community.  Together these two resources provide access to billions of items. When we find a digital copy, we add the link to the appropriate topic in our Lists of Materials in the BDC's Wordpress Blog or share the link with the cataloging librarian to add to the SCLENDS record.

Heads up: The BDC Research Room will be closed at lunchtime, Noon to 1 pm, beginning August 19th and continuing through August 25th.  Regular hours, that is 10 am - 5 pm, resume on Tuesday, August 26th. 

10 August 2014

"Tide of Death'" Hurricane of 1893

Thanks to all who joined us at St. Helena Branch Library yesterday for Dr. Butler's talk on the fate of The Planter.  Next up is a program highlighting special collections materials within our own Beaufort District Collection about the largest natural disaster to ever hit Beaufort County: "The Great Sea Island Storm of 1893."

This will be a revised version of the talk I did last year at St. Helena Branch, "'Tide of Death:' The Sea Island Hurricane of 1893." (We take the comments on the evaluation sheets seriously.) I will share first person accounts and rare materials from our holdings about the night that death came to call. Consider it a sort of "Show-and-Tell of Disaster." This free BDC@ Beaufort Branch Local History Program is open to anyone over age 12 interested in attending. Program starts at 6 pm. Reservations are not required.

Heads up: The BDC Research Room will be closed at lunchtime, Noon to 1 pm, from beginning on Tuesday, August 19 through Monday, August 25th.