Publisher of Quality Genealogy Materials
Volume 8, Number 7 Mountain Press, P.O. Box 400, Signal Mountain, Tennessee 37377, 1-423-886-6369 April 20, 2016
Publisher's Notes In this article, we discuss taking care of old, rare books and documents. This is an area where I am passionate about handling these items with care. I was amazed at the condition I found some of the records on a recent trip to the Tennessee State Archives.
We are also celebrating spring with a 15% off discount on all our materials on Mountain Press. To receive the discount, just type SPRING16 in the Coupons and Codes Section on the Checkout Page. Hopefully, you are managing the pollen better than me!
James L. Douthat
Miss Manners Robert Fulghum said it best when he wrote, ďAll I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.Ē So much for the truth of life. Since there were no public kindergartens in the mid 1940ís I guess I could be excused, but I still learned a few things about manners. A couple of weeks ago I spent three days at the Tennessee State Archives researching various materials. I was in their manuscript section where there are many rare, one-of-a-kind books. I was researching the W.P.A. collection of Tennessee County Court Records. These books were collected during the 1930s as part of the W.P.A. project to get people working to help recover from the depression. Men and women were sent into the court house to hand copy many of the older records of each county. These hand copied records were then typed onto onion skin paper which is semi-transparent and very thin. Sometimes multiple copies were made and the State Archives had the best copy hard bound and placed on the shelves for patrons to use. This all sounds so very wonderful, until some genealogists take advantage of the system.
In copy after copy, I found information written in the margins, entries marked out and notes written. Granted I know full well that some court records are incorrect. I have transcribed several thousands of these original records and note many variations in their records. Remember that clerks are human beings and subject to errors just like many genealogists. Who is to say how the name FARIS is to be spelled? In just one deed, I found it spelled ďFARRIS, FARIS, and FARRISS.Ē It is always important to look for various spellings when researching and realize that errors are made.
Making corrections to printed material is bad enough, but then there were those that had used a highlighter pen to underline and mark through various names. Do people not realize that the highlighter will over time destroy the ink of the original and the paper itself? I can understand those libraries where you are locked in the research room and you are allowed to take nothing into the room with you and they examine carefully any paper that you remove from the room. They are just protecting their materials that are usually not available elsewhere and if they can be purchased, they are very expensive. For example if your family had a genealogy printed during the 1940ís, copies will be difficult to find and very expensive. My grandmotherís family had one published in 1942. A copy of the original was $3.50 and if you can even find an original, you would have to pay at least hundreds of dollars.
If you find something that appears to be an error, then please make a copy of the page in question, make your corrections on the copy, and then give the copy to the librarian. Please do not write on the original or use a highlighter on the original. Let the experts handle any changes that need to be made.
Am I hot to trot over this issue? You bet I am. A few years ago, I opened my private library to the public since I have many originals and rare books. Over the years, I had many people request to come research in my library. After the third or fourth group visited, I found several books where a highlighter was used to mark the index and pages. I found one page completely covered in yellow. Unfortunately, I had to close my library to the public. Many of my books are out of print and not able to be replaced, so I could not take the chance of ruining the items.
Keep in mind that libraries exist for our benefit and a few simple manners will go a long way in keeping the material available to others. Please donít think that the material is only relevant to you and no one else will mind if you mark a page or two. In many cases, you are handling materials that are hundreds of years old. They have stood the test of time, so donít shorten their life span. Letís maintain our resources for the many generations to follow!
In celebration of Spring, we are offering 15% off all books, maps and CDs through midnight Sunday, April 24th. To receive the discount, just type SPRING16 in the Coupons and Codes Section on the Checkout Page. The code must be entered for the discount to calculate.
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