Create Your Own "Personal History Archive"
By: Jeffrey Kiley - Advantage Archives
Old pictures, scrapbooks, correspondence, journals, personal documents, yearbooks, and even family recipes all hold the memories and records of your personal history.
Advantage Archives has partnered with libraries, historical societies and institutions across the United States to create more than 700 Community History Archives. Our Community History Archives not only preserve local history, but connect the community to its history. Many communities choose to start their archive with local newspapers that provide the “first rough draft of history” and then expand the collection with photos, journals, yearbooks, local genealogy records, atlases, directories and more.
The Community History Archive platform can also be used quite effectively for the preservation & access of family history. Without a doubt, you or a loved one also has a stack of photo albums or a shoe box of old photos, negatives or slides. On the top shelf of a closet or in a storage box you may have a scrapbook of newspaper clippings of your high school athletic achievements and likely a yearbook or two. Possibly grandma’s index cards with her recipes written out in her own hand writing. Letters, military records, family genealogy records, journals…each providing a window to the past. A few years back, I wrote an article about my grandmother – “Taking History Personally”. I wrote about her time as a MASH nurse in WWII and how it played a such an important role in my passion for what I do. In the article I wrote:
History is a powerful thing. Seeing it through the eyes of a person who was “there when it happened” connects you to it in a very meaningful way. In her later years, my Grandmother documented some of those stories… She wrote just like she spoke, and when I read it, I hear her voice. History can be a very personal thing too.
~Jeffrey Kiley – Advantage Archives
Aside from the sentimental value, it is important that future generations can share this same connection to relatives and the past. It provides insight into the people, places and events that shape our families and community.
One of the more common requests we receive is to digitize old photos, yearbooks, 35MM slides and scrapbooks onto a hard drive or DVD. This is a great way to have a personal collection and prevent old memories from being lost to the erosion of time. The only limitation is the ability to provide access and make these images available to family, friends or genealogists in a practical way.
If you feel that you have interesting or insightful documents that should be shared, the Community History Archive platform is a wonderful option. The Community History Archive platform can be used as a Personal History Archive to share documents with anyone in the world or privately with a username & password.
Your own personal online archive ensures the history contained in the pictures or on paper can be easily accessed anytime from anywhere. The archive can be private or open to the public. Family history does not need to be locked behind a paywall or exclusively available via a prohibitively expensive subscription service.
Like any of our Community History Archives, if there is printed text or a brief summary of each photo, we can use OCR to make the documents keyword searchable. Unfortunately we can’t OCR directly from handwriting. If the documents are hand written or pictures do not have any associated text, we will create a browsable index by title and date.
Whether provided on a hard drive, dvd, or made available online, the images from your books, records, negative, slides, and photos can also be shared on social media, via e-mail, or other genealogical websites.
Old pictures and documents hold the memories and records of your personal history. The Community History Archives not only allow you to explore this history, but help share and connect others to history as well.