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.

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.

Birth and Death Records for Joseph and Sarah (d/o Elder John Strong) Barnard, 1676-1696, Deerfield, Massachusetts

Birth and Death Records for Joseph and Sarah (d/o Elder John Strong) Barnard, 1676–1696, Deer­field, Massachusetts

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.

Ebenezer Strong Line, 2009 Strong Family Reunion

Ebenezer Strong Line, 2009 Strong Fam­ily Reunion

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.

Tech­ni­cal Expertise

Sarah Strong, Return Strong, and Experience Strong Lines, 2009 Strong Family Reunion (Edward Barnard, SFAA Webmaster)

Sarah Strong, Return Strong, and Expe­ri­ence Strong Lines, 2009 Strong Fam­ily Reunion (Edward Barnard, SFAA Webmaster)

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

Other Exper­tise

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!

Posted in Sharing our Knowledge.

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