Thursday, May 15, 2008

ISFHWE, manuscripts & an offer from Myrt

Ol' Myrt here attended the ISFHWE (International Society of Family History Writers and Editors ) dinner last night and two interesting things emerged:
  • Honoring excellence in writing award winners
  • Use of manuscript collections to locate ancestral letters

Winners of the 2008 International Society of Family History Writers and Editors Excellence in Writing Contest are:

Category I-Newspaper Columns

  • First Place: Mary Alice Dell, "Land Ho"
  • Second Place: Julie Miller, "Dear Lucy, Love Phil: A Cotton Family Legacy"
  • Third Place: Mary Penner, "Union Vets Joined Posts Across Nation"

Category II-Articles

  • First Place: Colleen Fitzpatrick, "Clues Left Around a House"
  • Second Place: Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak: "Found! Serial Centenarians"
  • Third Place: Schelly Talalay Dardashti: "Planting the Family Tree"

Category III-Original Research Story

  • First Place: Hazlehurst Smith Beezer, "Dr. James Hill: Skeleton in the Hall Family Closet"
  • Second Place: Terry R. Barnhart, "Unraveling the Mystery in Ginghamsburg"
  • Third Place: Nancy Waters Lauer, "When a Brick Wall Crumbles Onto the Wrong Path"

Category IV-Want-to-Be Writer/Columnist

  • First Place: Debra A. Hoffman, "Bricks & Mortality"
  • Second Place: Harold Henderson, "City Directories as Clue Factories"
  • Third Place: J.H. Fonkert, "Celebrate Minnesota's History by Starting Your Own"

Manuscript collections
"Through their words: The intimate accounts of our ancestors" was the title of Laura Prescott after dinner presentation. She had unearthed handwritten letters and commentaries of that survived from the 19th century, showing them in her PowerPoint and reading excerpts that delighted us with cultural views and use of language afforded by the difference in nearly 200 years since first penned.

The presentation reminded me that although my ancestors were largely obscure in the scheme of history, it is likely a surviving letter, diary, account book or such has survived from either an ancestors, a close cousin or someone who lived in the same location at the same time.

Where do we look for surviving documents that didn't get handed down through They come to light as archives and libraries take care to catalog their manuscript collections. Laura spotlighted several university collections and provided a screen shot of:

  • NUCMC - National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections which you can see from the URL is part of the Library of Congress website, where we read:

    "As a result of the ongoing integration of the activities of OCLC and the Research Libraries Group (RLG) which began in July 2006, the migration of records from the RLG Union Catalog to OCLC’s WorldCat is now complete. The NUCMC website now provides searching access, via the NUCMC/OCLC gateway, not only to the WorldCat records that were accessible prior to the merger, but also to the RLG Union Catalog records that were previously accessible only via the NUCMC/RLG gateway. NUCMC very much appreciates the cooperation of OCLC in making this resource available to researchers.

    The mission of the NUCMC program is to provide and promote bibliographic access to the nation's documentary heritage. This mission is realized by NUCMC production of cataloging describing archival and manuscript collections held by eligible repositories located throughout the United States and its territories. The program's mission is further realized by the provision of free searching, via NUCMC gateways, of archival and manuscript cataloging in OCLC WorldCat."

Myrt's offer?
We've just GOT to schedule time to research manuscript collections. Let me know what you find, and I can create a dedicated web page to the scanned image and a bio of your ancestor. We've got to get the word out about using manuscript collections as a resource for family history research.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
Your friend in genealogy.

© 2008 Pat Richley All Rights Reserved.

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