In January I attended John Philip Colletta's class, "Beyond the Library: Using Original Source Repositories," at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG). Of course taking any class from Dr. Colletta is an amazing experience, but an entire week? I was in heaven. He covered everything from Federal and State Archives to the County Courthouse to private collections--personal and corporate.
Of course, in order to access the majority of records in archives, one must venture out beyond technology and into a bricks and mortar facility, so a tour of the Utah State Archives was included. The course was a great reminder of why I need to get out from behind this computer screen more often if I really want "the rest of the story".
But how does the everyday researcher learn how to use these archives? Trial and error? That was my standard method of operation until I took Dr. Colletta's class. Today I received information from Anne Hartman, Editorial & Production Coordinator at the Society of American Archivists, about a new online publication that was created to help researchers both find and use archives. This should speed us all up a bit. She writes:
"Using Archives: A Guide to Effective Research", a free online resource giving readers straight-to-the-point tips to help them adeptly utilize a collection for genealogy research. In the guide, Laura Schmidt (archivist at The Marion E. Wade Center, Wheaton College) describes how to locate archives that have appropriate materials specific to users’ research; how to effectively use tools such as finding aids, catalogs, and databases; and how to plan a visit to an archives, among other topics.Thanks to SAA for developing such a wonderful online tool!