It is Family History Month! But, did you know it’s also American Archives Month? That’s right. And although I don’t think that it was completely intentional, I do believe that the two should most definitely be celebrated together. Why? Because, you can’t have one without the other.
Yes, the advent of online genealogical research has made access to a lot of information much, much easier. What’s better than sitting at home, at your computer, in your jammies with a hot cup of something good searching for your ancestors? But the reality is that you can only get so far and then you have to ramp up your skills and look at real records.
|(c) 2013 Laura Cosgrove Lorenzana|
The place that holds and cares for those real records is an Archives. Unlike a Library, an Archives maintains original records that are unique, or one of a kind. There are all types of Archives; local, regional and national. Each one has a different collection policy and they all have policies for use. Many of them have family historians as their main users, and without family historians coming in to look at their materials, they might not be able to stay open.
The best thing that you can do this Family History Month? Take that next step and go to a local Archives. You don’t have to travel out of State; go to a local repository. The more we know our local repositories, the less likely they are to be at risk without us knowing about it.
And, if you’re not already a member of your local genealogy society, now’s the time to step up. Your local genealogy society folks probably know the ins and outs of the local repositories and can provide you with much needed information to make your trip smoother. (Not sure how to find a local Society? Check out FGS’s Society Hall!) There’s also the impact on your research of being able to tap into the collective knowledge in the group. Your local genealogy society is there to share information and support the efforts of family history researchers.
After all, we are all part of the human family. Happy Family History Month! And, don’t forget to hug an Archivist!