Monday, October 19, 2009

More Documents Every Day

The National Archives has a backlog of 400-500 million pages of records that need to be processed. Footnote has uploaded 60 million images and is adding more than 1 million news records each month. Meanwhile, the Family History Library in Salt Lake City has committed to digitizing their entire collection of more than 2.5 million reels of microfilm.

This information came courtesy of an editorial by Tony Burroughs on His point is one worth emphasizing, that new records are coming available every day. Because of this enormous increase in accessibility of information, the work of family history is never done. Because of this ever increasing abundance of information, Genealogists and Family Historians can never say we have searched every record and every document to find our ancestors.

The discovery and release of new records and documents is not simply an event from national institutions. Everyday, local historical societies and libraries make available new resources. As a local example, the Atlanta History Center acquired a spectacular newspaper collection in 2001. It has been processed and has been available to researchers for the past three years. The finding aid is just now being prepared for on-line research. In this collection are newspapers from North Georgia that were unknown to exist fifteen years ago! As these papers become more accessible it is exciting to think about the new information about our ancestors that will emerge from these pages.

Other examples of new document discoveries include plantation records becoming available in South Carolina after a repository re-processed a finding aid. Or, in South Georgia, loose records from Tattnall County have just recently been indexed and abstracted.

Militia rosters, orphanage records, and other resources are being uncovered each day. Truly, the access to information and resources increases with each sunrise. This is good news for all of the Genealogists and Family Historians in the world. This means our work is never done, and new resources are constantly being made available for use.

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