I am delighted to welcome Denise May Levenick, The Family Curator, and author of How to Archive Family Keepsakes to the Gazette as part of her Blog Book Tour. She has brought a bit of her expertise with her to share with us here. After reading her article, stop by Moultrie Creek Books to check out my earlier interview with Denise and my review of her book.
Moultrie Creek and The Family Curator share a love of tech gadgets, e-readers, and most especially, books! When Editor Denise Olson and I chat about blogging or family history, somehow the conversation always turns to what we’re reading and what’s waiting for us on our bookshelves.
Inherited books bring new challenges and new information to family historians. Experienced genealogists recognize the value of noting literacy from census records and document signatures, but have you considered what you can learn about your ancestor from the choice of books in their library?
Not all books survive through generations, of course, but if you are fortunate enough to inherit a few bookshelves or boxes of books, you might learn something about the interests and activities of your ancestor.
When you first encounter a person’s library, it’s a good idea to take some notes about book arrangement. Are the books grouped in any order, by author, subject, size, or binding? Take digital photos and list the books in order. It can be interesting to consider why books are grouped as they are. Poetry mixed in with travel? Maybe the books were grouped for inspiration or take-along reading material?
If you find the books in a person’s home, note what rooms contain bookshelves. Some people live with books in almost every room, others have very few volumes. You may be able to determine how your ancestor spent his leisure time – perhaps reading novels, planning travel, or studying the lives of great leaders.
Fewer books doesn’t necessarily mean that a person is illiterate or uneducated. Many entrepreneurs or business owners had little leisure time, others may have pursued golf, woodworking, or sewing in their free time; many people choose to read newspapers and magazines. Digital libraries of the last decade will leave a very faint footprint; you may need to investigate an e-reader booklist to analyze a techie’s library.
Many families own an heirloom Bible or other religious books that are passed on from generation to generation. Carefully look through the pages to see if newspaper clippings or funeral cards have been tucked between the pages. Sometimes an obituary may be placed as a bookmark in the pages of the deceased person’s favorite Bible passage. Protestant Bible owners may use their Bible as a personal journal to record their spiritual conversion and testimony.
My uncle, a Protestant minister, used his primary “study” Bible as a sort of scrapbook journal. It contains photos, news clippings, handwritten notes, and carefully marked passages.
As you begin to examine the books, carefully leaf through the pages. You may find pressed flowers, theatre stubs, or any kind of item pressed into service as a bookmark. Make note of what you find and where. If you want to leave the item in the book but see that it is causing damage, consider encapsulating the item in archival plastic to protect the pages from acid migration.
If you choose to incorporate family books with your own volumes, you may want to set the books apart on a separate shelf or mark the books with the name of the original owner. You could insert an acid-free identification card inside the book or inscribe the flyleaf in pencil with the owner’s name and dates. Keep a list of your inherited books with your family archive so you remember where they are.
Store damaged or fragile books flat inside archival folders or closed boxes with your other family archive materials.
Find more ideas for sorting and organizing inherited family treasures in How to Archive Family Keepsakes: Learn How to Preserve Family Photos, Memorabilia & Genealogy Records by Denise May Levenick (Family Tree Books, 2012).
Format: Paperback Digital: eBook PDF
Copyright, 2012, Denise May Levenick. All Rights Reserved. www.thefamilycurator.com
Add your questions or comments to this post for a chance to win a free copy of How to Archive Family Keepsakes in the Blog Book Tour giveaway.
Join the Blog Tour
Join the Blog Book Tour for How to Archive Family Keepsakes January 10-26, 2013 for author interviews, book excerpts, giveaways, and more. Visit the Blog Book Tour Page at The Family Curator for the complete schedule <http://www.thefamilycurator.com/book-tour/>.
Proceeds from the sale of How to Archive Family Keepsakes during the Book Tour will help fund the 2013 Student Genealogy Grant founded in 2010 in honor of Denise’s mother, Suzanne Winsor Freeman.
Blog Book Tour Giveaways
Comment on daily Book Blog Tour Post
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It’s easy to enter to win a free copy of Denise’s new book or one of the weekly giveaway prizes. All you have to do is leave a comment to the Blog Tour Post hosted at one of the official tour blogs. Random winners will also be selected from social media comments on Twitter, FaceBook, and Google+.
Each blog tour post comment gives you one chance to win; one entry per post per day, please. Leave a comment at each stop on the blog tour and increase your chances of winning. The lucky names will be announced each Saturday during the tour at The Family Curator.
About the Author
In every family, someone ends up with “the stuff.” Denise May Levenick is a writer, researcher, and speaker with a passion for preserving and sharing family treasures of all kinds. She is the creator of the award-winning family history blog, The Family Curator (www.TheFamilyCurator.com) and author of the new book How to Archive Family Keepsakes: Learn How to Preserve Family Photos, Memorabilia and Genealogy Records, (Family Tree Books, 2012).