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Archiver > APG > 2003-05 > 1052755114

From: Sharon Sergeant <>
Subject: [APG] Grassroots records preservation
Date: Mon, 12 May 2003 08:58:34 -0700 (PDT)
In-Reply-To: <128.29d7118d.2bf0fd55@aol.com>


Sharon Howland is a wonderful speaker on this subject. She was the hands-down favorite and
inspiration at the recent Massachusetts Genealogical Council Annual Meeting and Seminar with her
story about the records preservation activities in poor and sparsely settled Maine's Washington
County. Her approach is pragmatic and effective. Her Downeast humor, photograph displays and
records inventory handouts brought every point home. Massachusetts folks left inspired to
revitalize local projects. A Maine Town Clerk's Association representative invited her to speak to
that statewide group.

Her story is inspirational for a number of reasons. The first is that many folks feel overwhelmed
by the enormity of records preservation issues, but are shown that even one person can make a
difference. The second is that "territorial" records management and decision making bodies are
often operating in a stratosphere of beaurocracy, technology confusion and funding issues. Grass
roots organizations can effectively sidestep these tangled webs and make the process a "win-win"
by starting with inventory aids and funding "seed" projects. Such simplicity helps clarify
priorities and create models for "official" projects. Finally, folks who are "from away" can
pariticipate in preserving their own heritage through the fund, the newsletters, book publications
and local genealogy fairs.

This vision has a 25 year track record that means that other folks can stand on the shoulders of
this project and effectively use the model in their own locality in much shorter time span. An
overview and contact information can be found at http://hometown.aol.com/shwkrp/shwkrp.html

The recent and frequent impetus to attack "access to records" is a "swamps and alligators" barrier
to records preservation. It is very important for all genealogical organizations and professionals
to participate in records presrvation activities. The internet may have created the "free versus
fee" genealogy controversy with the idea that "our" records should be freely available to us, but
the bottom line is that every researcher has a responsibility in the process.

I just spent Friday at the Massachusetts Community Forum on Historical Records where the stories
of records location and management problems were filled with amazing contradictions between
reality and "formal" views. There are millions of records that will never be part of Ancestry.com,
Heritage Quest, LDS or Rootsweb archives. There are lots of local organizations that should
consider designing more programs on how to find and save records - not just how to use them.
Sharon Howland's story has such a "show and tell" quality that it effectively bypasses many of the
human politics barriers and gets to the heart of the matter.

Sharon Sergeant, from the rainy and cold northeast

--- wrote:
> I know that several of you on this list are in the same predicament as
> myself.
> How to save the records available?

Sharon Sergeant
Ancestors and Ephemera
Bring Your Ancestors Home!

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