31 August 2014

New BDC-Led Digital Preservation Hobbyist Group for Family Treasures

Reminder: The Library is closed Monday, September 1st to observe Labor Day. 

As the Library system’s special local history collection and archives, we preserve materials in the Beaufort District Collection (BDC) each and every day. Our highest priority is to be good stewards of the cultural heritage materials entrusted to us for the community. Therefore we must be up-to-date on preservation thought, practices, and techniques.

One of the key components of a librarian's professional life is to guide others to information that helps them meet their personal goals. This requires professional librarians to learn new skills as times and skill sets adapt to new circumstances. Institutional, personal, family, and community cultural heritage collections are equally at risk from the environment and poor handling. Our cultural heritage now embraces digital formats and preservation of digital formats for access in the future is a growing concern and challenge.

Over the past decade, how we capture memories have changed. Think about your daily life.  Do you capture memories on film cameras?  Probably not so often as you capture the moments of your life via digital format.  Tens of millions of images are taken every day with cell phones, smart phones, tablets, web cams, digital cameras, etc., many of those relating to our personal lives and families, in effect making each one of us our own personal archivist.

According to "Perspective on Personal Digital Archiving" (2013) by the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program at the Library of Congress "Without some focused attention, any personal collection is at high risk of loss – and quick loss at that." Thus, preservation of digital assets, whether institutional or personal,is a concern for librarians and archivists in the 21st century. The Library is positioning itself to extend its traditional role as a center for lifelong learning to include 21st century skills such as digital preservation. The Beaufort County Library's Board of Trustees approved the Library system's Extended Strategic Plan:
The community will embrace the library as a center for lifelong learning opportunities. The team members will become specialists in a specific literacy and have confidence in their ability to impart their knowledge. By default, more or less, digital preservation is to become my specific literacy to share with others.
(To download the PDF go to Library homepage > About Us tab > Extended Strategic Plan).

The newly formed BDC-led Digital Preservation Hobbyist Group at St. Helena Branch is intended to provide tools to help you - over the course of the next year or so - to :

* Better manage your personal collections;
* Better manage the accumulation of images, documents and duplicate copies;
* Better manage distribution;
* Move materials to new formats when needed;
* Make physical copies of key images.

If any of this sounds interesting to you, just drop in at St. Helena Branch on Thursday.
We can muddle through the 21st century challenges of digital preservation and management processes that ensure the long-term accessibility of digital information-  together. No need to register, plus it's free!

29 August 2014

Upcoming Cultural Heritage Programs

Wow! We had 73 people at last night's BDC@ Beaufort Branch "Tide of Death" presentation. Thanks to all for such a great turn-out. 

Reminder: The Beaufort County Library is closed Monday, September 1st to celebrate Labor Day.  (Does anyone else see the irony in this particular holiday?) 

Next Thursday:
Just drop in as we muddle through how to select the best digital images, devise appropriate labeling, and any other topics that might come up during an all-in discussion.  Bring your devices if at all possible.

Historic Port Royal Foundations is hosting Daryl Ferguson of the Santa Elena Foundation  on September 9th.  The Santa Elena Foundation, an independent nonprofit foundation, intends to establish an interactive center about the history of the colonization of North America, promoting the history of the first Europeans to reside in what later became Beaufort District, the Spanish. Click on the Island Packet story to learn more: http://www.islandpacket.com/2014/07/14/3211319_santa-elena-foundation-hires-first.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy.

Most libraries, museums, archives, and historical preservation societies begin Fall programming in September.  Be sure to check out other programs offered by Beaufort County Historical Resources Consortium members: Beaufort County Historical Society, Beaufort History Museum, Bluffton Historical Preservation Society, Coastal Discovery Museum, Gullah/Geechee Heritage Library, and Penn Center among others.

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.)