Call for Volunteers

Shar­ing our Knowl­edge
Part 20: Call for Volunteers

Shar­ing our Knowl­edge is a series of arti­cles about the His­to­rian Archives Project and how you can become involved.

Thomas Strong Line, 2009 Strong Family Reunion

Thomas Strong Line, 2009 Strong Fam­ily Reunion

Would you like to do some geneal­ogy? You prob­a­bly already have an idea of where you might fit in, but let me remind you of some broad areas of need.

Preser­va­tion Copy

We have four 4-drawer fil­ing cab­i­nets of paper records. If those records get lost in a fire, flood, or tor­nado, our thou­sands upon thou­sands of care­fully col­lected doc­u­ments are gone for­ever. We plan to run these pages through a scan­ner, one page at a time.

The His­to­rian, Pres­i­dent, and Web­mas­ter will each have a copy of the scanned com­puter files. That way, if some dis­as­ter hap­pens to the orig­i­nal, our records are safe.

We are look­ing for a few peo­ple who under­stand the impor­tance of this preser­va­tion project, and are expe­ri­enced in care­fully scan­ning doc­u­ments into their com­puter, and who have their own scan­ner. Con­tinue read­ing

Time Frame

Shar­ing our Knowl­edge
Part 19: Time Frame

Shar­ing our Knowl­edge is a series of arti­cles about the His­to­rian Archives Project and how you can become involved.

Mary Strong Line, 2009 Strong Family Reunion

Mary Strong Line, 2009 Strong Fam­ily Reunion

Wow! This is Part 19 and count­ing! I hope you have enjoyed read­ing about our ideas. Maybe you have even thought of ways you would like to con­tribute! It won’t take long for us to build some momen­tum, and have fun in the process!

In fact, we can bring some happy results to the 2010 Strong Fam­ily Reunion in Stur­bridge, Mass­a­chu­setts. Here is what I think we can accom­plish over the next year:

  • Make the Jede­diah book (Strong Updates Vol­ume 1) avail­able on CD
  • Begin mak­ing a preser­va­tion copy of the paper records
  • Fig­ure out what we have in the way of man­u­script files

With that bit of expe­ri­ence under our belts, we should have a very good idea of whether we want to pro­ceed with the Pre­lim­i­nary Infor­ma­tion project, or stop with pre­serv­ing the His­to­rian Archives.

I expect that by time we reach the next Reunion, we will already have some momen­tum, and we can pro­pose an offi­cial project based on the expe­ri­ence gained in our “pilot project.”

Please share your ideas!

The Question

Shar­ing our Knowl­edge
Part 18: The Question

Shar­ing our Knowl­edge is a series of arti­cles about the His­to­rian Archives Project and how you can become involved.

Stronghold Castle Turret Stairs, 2009 Reunion Tour

Strong­hold Cas­tle Tur­ret Stairs, 2009 Reunion Tour

We began Part 1 by pos­ing the ques­tion, “Why would I want to join?” We answered, “Let’s do some geneal­ogy, in a way that will be inter­est­ing to our membership.”

We con­tin­ued by pos­ing the ques­tion, “How do we get this project off the ground?” We answered, “Cre­ate an inter­est­ing online pres­ence, and focus on early results that we can show off.”

In answer­ing those two ques­tions, we have accom­plished some amaz­ing results! But more impor­tantly, we have com­pletely pre­pared our­selves to take on a Future Strong Updates pro­gram. We have the means, we have the mate­r­ial, we have the train­ing, and we have the processes.

We have made our wealth of knowl­edge avail­able through the Newslet­ter and online. We have become more inter­ac­tive than ever before, in a man­ner par­tic­u­larly appeal­ing to the younger gen­er­a­tion. We have pub­lished our works already in progress on CD and as instant download.

At this point, if we as an Asso­ci­a­tion decide to take on a Future Strong Updates project, we’ll know exactly how to do so.

Please share your ideas!

Allied Families

Shar­ing our Knowl­edge
Part 17: Allied Families

Shar­ing our Knowl­edge is a series of arti­cles about the His­to­rian Archives Project and how you can become involved.

Grinnell Genealogy 1887, Grand Ledge Michigan

Grin­nell Geneal­ogy 1887, Grand Ledge Michigan

To the best of my knowl­edge, we all have two par­ents. Most of us who have stud­ied the Strong side of the fam­ily have also gath­ered infor­ma­tion on other non-Strong parts of the family.

In prin­ci­ple, every­thing I’ve sug­gested that applies to col­lect­ing and dis­sem­i­nat­ing our Strong Fam­ily her­itage, applies to our allied fam­i­lies as well. I see no rea­son why our Dig­i­tal Library couldn’t include pho­tos and doc­u­ments related to other fam­i­lies, so long as they are cor­rectly cat­a­loged. We thus pro­vide a greater ser­vice, and greater inter­est, to our mem­bers at large.

In prin­ci­ple, we can pro­vide books on CD regard­ing these allied fam­i­lies, so long as we don’t lose our orig­i­nal focus. By pro­vid­ing an out­let for shar­ing their own her­itage, we do a ser­vice to spe­cific mem­bers, while gain­ing addi­tional inter­est and widen­ing our own scope of influ­ence. At that point we have an estab­lished process, and can pro­vide advice and expe­ri­ence. It’s a pos­si­bil­ity… but a long way down the road!

Please share your ideas!

One Bite at a Time

Shar­ing our Knowl­edge
Part 16: One Bite at a Time

Shar­ing our Knowl­edge is a series of arti­cles about the His­to­rian Archives Project and how you can become involved.

In Cre­at­ing for the Future, I pro­posed gen­er­at­ing future Strong Updates books from an Offi­cial Strong Geneal­ogy Data­base. The other large value of this approach is that we can take things in bite-size pieces.

Some­one can pick up one spe­cific fam­ily unit, or one spe­cific file folder from the His­to­rian Archives and do the research sur­round­ing that one spe­cific topic. Rather than tak­ing on a daunt­ing multi-year task all at once, some­one can take on one man­age­able piece, and when that’s com­plete, come back for the next piece. Con­tinue read­ing

Creating for the Future

Shar­ing our Knowl­edge
Part 15: Cre­at­ing for the Future

Shar­ing our Knowl­edge is a series of arti­cles about the His­to­rian Archives Project and how you can become involved.

Establishing Genealogical Standards

Estab­lish­ing Genealog­i­cal Standards

Before we type one sin­gle name into our Offi­cial Strong Geneal­ogy data­base, we estab­lish our qual­ity and edi­to­r­ial stan­dards. There is one and only one mas­ter copy of the data­base. The SFAA His­to­rian is the only per­son who updates the mas­ter copy. He or she then dis­trib­utes copies to the other project mem­bers for their use.

It doesn’t really mat­ter if we use Fam­ily Tree Maker, Legacy, or some­thing else, so long as it can be used to record what we want to record, and gen­er­ate book sec­tions for our Future Updates pro­gram. I use Legacy, so I’ll use it as my example.

Legacy has a large set of Source Cita­tion tem­plates that com­ply with Evi­dence Explained: Cit­ing His­tory Sources from Arti­facts to Cyber­space by Eliz­a­beth Shown Mills, an unof­fi­cial but widely-used high stan­dard of cita­tion. We have not printed exten­sive and detailed source cita­tions in our bound vol­umes, but we don’t have the same lim­its in a book on CD. We can add 50 pages of bib­li­og­ra­phy for free.

Imag­ine the value to future Strong His­to­ri­ans in gen­er­a­tions to come, if we care­fully doc­u­ment every source of infor­ma­tion as it’s used. The Offi­cial Strong Geneal­ogy data­base can be the source of our Strong Update books on CD for sure, but its real value is to our His­to­ri­ans in their day-to-day inves­ti­ga­tions. We can keep any num­ber of research notes and anec­dotes attached to any spe­cific indi­vid­ual, thus pass­ing on our detailed knowl­edge to the next gen­er­a­tion of Historians.

In the same way, when the time comes, we can decide on the other edi­to­r­ial and genealog­i­cal stan­dards to be followed.

A geneal­ogy pro­gram doesn’t have the same “flow” as a man­u­script. If you’re writ­ing about the entire Thomas (son of Elder John Strong) line, it’s hard to see how that flows when you’re look­ing at the com­puter screen dis­play­ing (for exam­ple) the David Strong fam­ily unit and noth­ing else. On the other hand, we all use these sorts of geneal­ogy pro­grams, and are quite com­fort­able with them.

In short, cre­at­ing a book by first cre­at­ing an Offi­cial Strong Geneal­ogy data­base sounds like a weird way to do it. But we cre­ate some­thing of tremen­dous ongo­ing day-to-day value to our His­to­ri­ans. It’s easy and intu­itive to update infor­ma­tion as it comes in (and meets our genealog­i­cal stan­dards for inclu­sion). Infor­ma­tion doesn’t need to wait for months and years to be processed and disseminated.

Please share your ideas!

Official Strong Genealogy Database

Shar­ing our Knowl­edge
Part 14: Offi­cial Strong Geneal­ogy Database

Shar­ing our Knowl­edge is a series of arti­cles about the His­to­rian Archives Project and how you can become involved.

Jedediah Strong Descendants at 2009 Reunion

Jede­diah Strong Descen­dants at 2009 Reunion

Remem­ber that as we embark upon this sug­gested Future Updates program:

  • We have already cre­ated a nearly-world-class online presence;
  • We have a group of trained editors/compilers;
  • We have stim­u­lated renewed inter­est and par­tic­i­pa­tion in the Asso­ci­a­tion; and
  • We have gained vol­umes of new infor­ma­tion from that interest.

What I’d like to sug­gest is that at this point we start over, with a “real” updates pro­gram – but with a twist. We now have a lux­ury that did not exist 15 or 25 years ago. We can take things one man­age­able bite at a time, while retain­ing top genealog­i­cal stan­dards and com­plete qual­ity con­trol. We can take things on a piece at a time as peo­ple become available.

My sug­ges­tion is sim­ple: Begin an Offi­cial Strong Geneal­ogy data­base. It doesn’t really mat­ter if we use Fam­ily Tree Maker, Legacy, or some­thing else, so long as it can be used to record what we want to record, and gen­er­ate book sec­tions for our Future Updates program.

The next arti­cle, Cre­at­ing for the Future, explains this tech­nique in detail.

Please share your ideas!

A Manageable Future Updates Program

Shar­ing our Knowl­edge
Part 13: A Man­age­able Future Updates Program

Shar­ing our Knowl­edge is a series of arti­cles about the His­to­rian Archives Project and how you can become involved.

In past arti­cles, I described turn­ing our His­to­rian Archives into an online pres­ence, and into a use­ful resource avail­able to our mem­ber­ship. It’s a large multi-year project, but it’s man­age­able and rel­a­tively straight-forward. We can tackle one piece of the project at a time, as time per­mits, know­ing where that piece fits into the over­all plan. Each step pro­duces tan­gi­ble results – always a good feel­ing. Con­tinue read­ing

Preservation Copy

Shar­ing our Knowl­edge
Part 12: Preser­va­tion Copy

Shar­ing our Knowl­edge is a series of arti­cles about the His­to­rian Archives Project and how you can become involved.

Why the Draper Manuscripts Exist

Why the Draper Man­u­scripts Exist

One of the ini­tial goals of our His­to­rian Archives project, is to pro­tect those four large 4-drawer fil­ing cab­i­nets from nat­ural dis­as­ters such as fire, flood, or tornado.

We do that by run­ning every page through a scan­ner, one page at a time. That gives an image of every page. It’s a pho­to­graph, not search­able text. It’s not search­able or oth­er­wise usable.

Scan­ning those pages will take count­less hours. The result is less than use­ful. A pic­ture of a page, on a com­puter screen, is not easy to use. It is a pic­ture, not book text. That means you can’t search through the files for a par­tic­u­lar name, or any­thing else.

So… Why is this impor­tant? We are cre­at­ing a preser­va­tion copy that we hope we never need to look at again. If the orig­i­nal papers get destroyed by fire, water, or ver­min, we still have the infor­ma­tion in those scanned images. With­out that preser­va­tion copy, every­thing would be gone forever.

Cre­at­ing that preser­va­tion copy is a metic­u­lous but undoubt­edly bor­ing project. Scan one page, then scan the next page, the next page, and the next. Keep those images cor­rectly orga­nized and cat­a­loged. Move on to the next file folder, and the next.

For­tu­nately, this is a per­fect case of “many hands make light work.” If we hap­pen to have sev­eral peo­ple who under­stand the impor­tance of the project, and are will­ing to take on a half dozen file fold­ers at a time, we could per­haps fin­ish that project in a sin­gle year.

Note that this Preser­va­tion Copy project does not include con­vert­ing each page to text. We are mak­ing no attempt to inter­pret, tran­scribe, index, or retype the documents.

We are each extremely tempted to make those pages use­ful. How­ever, that means the project will take lit­er­ally 10 times as many hours. We’ll never finish!

Mean­while, of course, we do have that row of fil­ing cab­i­nets full of use­ful infor­ma­tion. How do we go about shar­ing that knowl­edge? That’s what the next step is all about – cre­at­ing a man­age­able Future Updates program.

Please share your ideas!

The Question

Shar­ing our Knowl­edge
Part 11: The Question

Shar­ing our Knowl­edge is a series of arti­cles about the His­to­rian Archives Project and how you can become involved.

Surviving the Disk Errors

Sur­viv­ing the Disk Errors

We began Part 1 by pos­ing the ques­tion, “Why would I want to join?” For some­one under age 30, the answer includes a sub­stan­tial online pres­ence, and sig­nif­i­cant inter­ac­tion. That inter­ac­tion usu­ally begins as online interaction.

Here in Part 11, we need to ask the ques­tion, “How do we get this project off the ground?” Our answer is the same – we cre­ate that sub­stan­tial, inter­est­ing, and inter­ac­tive online pres­ence first. Both the Newslet­ter and the Web site allow us to talk about the project. But we need to also use our Web site to show the project, and become the cen­tral point of inter­act­ing with our mem­bers and poten­tial members.

Please share your ideas!