Publisher of Quality Genealogy Materials
Volume 6, Number 24 Mountain Press, P.O. Box 400, Signal Mountain, Tennessee 37377, 1-423-886-6369 November 19, 2014
In this article we will discuss preserving our resources at the library and in private collections. On a recent trip to the State Archives, I was shocked to see all the notations on the library materials. This article is just a reminder that we need to preserve our library resources.
In the end, we had a good trip and we were able to obtain several new items that are now available on our website. If you have any comments or suggestions, please email me at email@example.com.
James L. Douthat
PRESERVING OUR RESOURCES
Have you noticed how many people show such a lack of respect for resources in the library? What brought me to write on this was a recent trip to the State Archives. I was reading some of the W.P.A. records for the State of Tennessee. Most of you know these are records produced during the end of the Great Depression as a way to get people back to work. It is called “Works Progress Association” and hundreds of people in every state were involved in working for the government.
I kept noticing that people scribbled notes in the margin and sometimes overtop of other words typed on the paper. In the index, they made check marks as they would run down the listing of the names. In Tennessee, the W.P.A. workers hand copied the original court records of each of the counties, others then typed these records onto onion skin paper which is very thin but tough. Sometimes there were carbon copies made of these typed pages. The Tennessee State Archives is the repository for these records even though many copies are scattered around the state. Mountain Press owns a number of the carbon copies as well as some of the hand written copies. The real fact is that there is only one or two copies of each of these records and researchers should not be marking on the pages.
Unfortunately, this has also happened to some of my reference materials. A number of years ago, I opened my private library to allow people to come in and research their own lines. I have a library of about 16,000 volumes, dozens of file cabinets full of original documents and a clipping file on hundreds of families. After a few patrons came in I found that some of them had use highlighters, ink notes in the margin and in one case, the word “wrong” was written in bold black marker over a marriage record from a county court minutes. This destroyed the copy of that material as one could not read what was written on that page and the reverse side as well.
At this point, I had to close my library and any access to my library that I have built over the last sixty years. I have a huge collection of mid-nineteen century histories, autobiographies, and materials from many of the great American and English writers. Many of these are first editions and irreplaceable. I do not mark up my books even though I own them and I do not make notes on original documents. If I want to make a note, I make a copy of the material and then I can write all I want on that copy, but never the original.
When you go to a library or visit a private collection, make sure you treat the materials with respect to pass along to future generations. Just because material is found in a public place does not mean that it is free to do with as you please. Remember that many of the genealogical and historical materials are printed in a very limited basis. Most of these are done by private individuals or small local societies. They have a limited budget for publications and will print only a few copies. Once these are out in the public domain that is the end of them. It should bother you no end to go into a public library and find a book all marked up and notes scribbled all over the materials that the author has painstaking prepared.
Going into a public library is a privilege. We should all take care to honor their efforts and protect the materials that they have sacrificed to make available. Today with many libraries being closed down and budgets cut to the bone, future materials will be in short supply so we have to make every effort to protect them. Some day we may not have public libraries to work with, but only the internet. Information is being added every day to the internet, but it does not contain all the genealogy information that we need in our research.
I know that I am probably preaching to the choir, but please always be mindful of the resources and make copies before writing your notes. It will also be helpful in years to come, when you have a record of your genealogy findings.
James L. Douthat Library Collection
Here are a few books from James L. Douthat's private library. We will be adding more to the collection in the coming weeks and months. The entire collection can be seen at the James L. Douthat Library Collection.
The Battle of Cloyds Mountain - VA and TN Railroad Raid in 1864
King Robert of Sicily - Dedication from 1902
A Short History of the Mississippi Valley - Published 1901
The National Portrait Gallery – Vol. 1-2 - Published late 19th century
History of the Pacific States – Volume 12 - Published 1888
History of Alabama - Published 1951
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