In addition to October being celebrated as Family History Month in the U.S, it’s also the ultra-important American Archives Month.
Many types of archives are found across the United States. City, county, state, region, university, military, religious, ethnic, music, medicine, and of course at the national level, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) provide history records at many levels. Many also have displays, books, artifacts, classes, lectures, and other items.
Some have online catalogs, detailed collection inventories, record indexes, digitized records, and biographies related to the place or type of archives, and many keep improving.
Some have grown by leaps and bounds as far as digital records and indexes, some have excellent newspaper collections online, and surprises are everywhere. A few have gone backward as far as online content, ease of use, and responding to members and patrons. The pandemic is only partly to blame, inadequate technology staff and standards are more to blame. Another part of the blame lies in funding and taking care of employees. I wish all could be given an A+ but it’s not to be. Yes, we need to encourage boards, councils, cities, counties, legislators, and others to be aware of the importance of preserving history and stop cutting funding. Some people are surprised at all the uses for the history these facilities hold.
I was going to name some favorites, but instead of that, I have some challenges for you. The results will be educational, and it would be great if you would share a few words about your discoveries as a comment to this blog post or send to me via email at PaulaStuartWarren at gmail.com.
- If you live in a U.S. state, visit the website of your state archives. Spend at least 15 minutes clicking on every tab, button, or list of sections. Let others know some of the wonderful things under those entry points.
- Next visit the website of the state archives of an ancestral state and do the same thing.
- Then visit the website of a major college or university and locate the archives and/or special collections and peruse the tabs, buttons, and sections there.
- Locate a religious or ethnic archive in your state of residence and do the same checking there.
- Lastly search for the existence of a special archives in your state of residence. Medical, musical, bugs, tongue depressors? Let me and others know whether it has documents, library, or other research items.
Don’t forget that we should donate to archives, too! Money, artifacts, books, family or business papers, as long as we check with the place first.
© 2023, Paula Stuart-Warren. All rights reserved.