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.
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.
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.
What I’d like to do is handle this project a bit like “Netflix.” For each volunteer accepted into the Preservation Copy project, I will send out a few file folders at a time (via U.S. Mail), along with a flash drive. When the volunteer finishes scanning images onto the flash drive, mail the package back.
I then check the work to ensure it meets our quality standards and is properly organized. Assuming it is, I send out a few more file folders. Just like Netflix, there is no time limit – send the folders back when you are finished.
I will try to send folders which most closely match the volunteer’s genealogical interest. That way we have more and more people becoming familiar with our wealth of genealogical information.
Manuscripts in Progress
We have thousands upon thousands of computer files. Some of them may be the original manuscripts for the 5 volumes of Strong Updates books. Some of them may be rewrites-in-progress of those same books. Many of them represent new information submitted over the years. Many of them are intended to become new Updates books, above and beyond the books already published.
Many of the files appear to be indexing projects; some files appear to be books contributed to the Historian Archive for our own use. It will actually take quite a lot of looking to figure out precisely what we do have!
We are looking for a few people who are extremely familiar with the current Strong Updates volumes and the original 2 Dwight volumes. We need people who can look at hundreds upon hundreds of files and figure out if they are the original manuscript, a possibly updated version of the original Update volume manuscript, a rewrite in progress, new information, and so on.
These people would need to be comfortable with Microsoft Word documents, PDF documents, and be able to come up with a plan for turning all these files into useful Preliminary Information updates.
Each volunteer accepted into the Manuscripts in Progress project would be given all the computer files related to a specific line of descent (Jedediah, Mary, Thomas, Sarah, etc.). This project is very much a “voyage of discovery” in that we really don’t know what we have! But first and foremost we hope that we have a copy of the original Jedediah Book manuscript, which we can make available on CD.
Historian File Triage
The “Manuscripts in Progress” project begins with all the files we have related to a specific line of descent. Where do we get those files in the first place? We have some work ahead of us before the “Manuscripts in Progress” project can begin.
First, the files need to be recovered from the failing floppy disks and hard drive. I’ve done that. Next, the files need to be converted to a usable file format – most of what I have was created a decade or two ago, under MS-DOS and Windows 3.11. As of this writing I have a file conversion tool that should work, but haven’t yet done the thousands upon thousands of file conversions. Certain projects, such as the book index projects, may not convert at all.
At that point, file triage can begin. We need a computer expert who is very good comparing groups of files, weeding out the duplicates, and sorting thousands upon thousands of files into a very organized fashion.
The files are already in folders indicating their family line – folders are named JED (for Jedediah line), HES (for Hester/Ester line), etc. Files are usually named according to the “person number” used in the Dwight and Updates volumes. Unfortunately, the files give no clue as to whether they represent the original manuscript, are new contributed information, are the manuscript for a new Update volume, and so on.
The Historian File Triage person’s task will be to sort these groups of files according to line of descendancy. All the Mary files go in one place; all the Jedediah files another place; Ebenezer another; and so on. Those file collections become the beginning of the “Manuscripts in Progress” project.
As the SFAA Webmaster, the Historian File Triage is really my own task. It’s a large task, and if we have someone else available with the right expertise, I will gladly delegate this task!
Prospecting for Treasure
I have no doubt that many Strong Family Association of America members have treasure troves of Strong-related genealogical information. We may have people appear, and offer to make their own treasures available to the Association, as a result of learning about this project in the Newsletter or from the Web site.
We need a small number of people willing to keep track of who has what genealogical information available. With SFAA Historian and/or Board approval, we need volunteers to organize collecting and using these materials.
Throughout these articles, we have described ways of becoming a nearly-world-class online presence. This includes creating a Digital Library, publishing books and other materials on CD, and making materials available for instant download upon purchase.
While all these things fall within the SFAA Webmaster’s purview, any of the following are ways to become involved:
- Set up the SFAA process for publishing on CD, including costs, revenue, revenue splitting (if any), etc.
- Set up the SFAA process for purchasing CDs online, including investigating various options
- Set up the SFAA store front for purchasing materials online for instant download, including investigating the various options available
- Set up the SFAA Digital Library or Digital Archive, perhaps using the “Dspace” software
- Act as the Digital Librarian
- Act as a Message Board Moderator
Chances are that you have long since realized that you would like to become involved, and you have a very good idea of how you can contribute. Your expertise might not be on the list above! Please contact us and share your ideas. Enthusiasm is contagious!
Please share your ideas!