Written by Bradley Harjehausen, graduate assistant
The 2016 Society of Tennessee Archivists Annual Meeting was held at the Williamson County Archives in Franklin on Saturday, October 29. Sarah Calise, Project Archivist, and I attended the meeting with the theme “Three-Party Harmony: Archives, Genealogy, & You.” While genealogical holdings and services are not a major focus of the Albert Gore Research Center, the speakers presented relevant and interesting information to our site.
The first of three speakers was Melissa Barker, archivists of the Houston County Archives. She suggested archives reach out to genealogists and the public by putting items on display at archive open houses or community meetings. Reasons include archives belonging to the community and genealogists and the general public being unaware of archives’ holdings. John F. Baker, Jr. presented the research behind his book The Washingtons of Wessyngton Plantation: Stories of My Family’s Journey to Freedom. He used multiple research methods to trace his once enslaved family’s history at Wessyngton Plantation dating back to 1796. He also traced the descendants of other African Americans and the plantation owners. The final speaker was Carol Roberts, Conservation Manger in Preservation Services at Tennessee State Library and Archives. She presented the benefits and downfalls of using http://www.findagrave.com/, which is composed of user-generated entrees of grave sites from around the world. The purpose is documenting, locating and maintaining grave sites.
Sarah and I found the presentations interesting and overall applicable to the work at the AGRC. They challenge us and all archives to explore and utilize new resources and methods. These make archival materials and their information accessible to genealogists and all other archive users.