Monday, December 12, 2011

Vertical Files and Cookies--It's Kinda Like Grandma's House

I'm behind with my blogging. Last week was busy. On Tuesday I spent a mere hour at the dentist and ended up with a numb face the rest of the day (much to the amusement of my boys). Wednesday I did my volunteer work at Tennessee State Library and Archives (more on this in a minute), then came home and made cookie dough. Thursday was a day of baking cookies (I've included photos of them), packaging them, getting them in the mail, and going to the neighborhood ornament exchange that evening. Friday, was my youngest son's last day of preschool, so I ran around doing errands like a possessed person. Saturday found me back at TSLA attending a lecture on the book, "Onward Southern Soldiers" (I'll discuss this in a different blog) and doing some research. Sunday was my youngest son's birthday party. I'm a little tired.

Anyway, a little bit on surname vertical files. I've discussed in other posts about the bible project I'm working on. I'm going through the surname vertical files and scanning any and all bible records I come across. It's a lot of files. I started a little over a year ago and I'm only in the middle of the "L's".  It's a really neat project! Going through the vertical files can, at times, feel like going through Grandma's attic. There can be all sorts of treasures there. I've seen reproductions of photos, photocopies of photos, original bible pages torn out of bibles, service records, wacky newspaper articles, and many other various records.

A few times I've seen booklets on certain families from an entirely different state. For example, "The Doe Family of Pennsylvania" (it's a fake family, just using the surname Doe as an example). In a few of these booklets there doesn't appear to be any reference to somebody living in Tennessee. Which got me thinking. This booklet somehow made it's way to Tennessee and into a vertical file. Did a member of the family move here or pass through leaving the booklet behind? Would a researcher think to look for this booklet in the vertical file. The moral being, when you are visiting a repository researching a specific ancestor, if you have time it may be a good idea to check out other surnames of your ancestors. You never know what you might find. Maybe a random piece of information somehow made its way into a vertical file there.

Just a couple more cookie photos......


  1. Vertical files are great resources. You're right - searching them is like going through Grandmom's attic. You never know what you might find. I've had a couple of success stories just from browsing the files. Thanks for highlighting them. (I'm hungry now!)

  2. Oh, those look good enough to eat!! HaHa. Some of them I recognize; some I don't. Thank you for providing photos.

  3. The amount of information contained in the holdings of records repositories always makes my head swim - and not always in a good way. I know that many such places TRY to index each and every document as it comes in, but reality says this isn't humanly possible with limited resources. Yes, it is like poking around in Grandma's attic, but for those of us who don't live near enough to these repositories to spend more than a few hours poking around once or twice a year, it'd be much better if one could know ahead of time what goodies (if any) will be there.

    As for the cookies, I'm trying to lose weight so I've sworn off baking for the holidays this year. But your pix are making me regret that decision! (-: