Monday, April 7, 2014
Tika & State Archives
Lee Pierce is an archivist at the Eastern Washington Branch of the Washington State Archives and he gave my genealogical society a grand tour and explanation of just what is and what is not available to you at a state archives. (I was telling Tika all about this but she was bored so I decided to tell you!)
To use an archives, Lee explained, you must know why the archives keeps records........ why THAT archives keeps WHAT it keeps and WHY. Then you must ask yourself, what of their inventory would be helpful to me in my research?
"Using archives for research is not like stopping by the 7/11 for a quick gallon of milk," Lee continued. "Using archives means learning to use a wide variety of resources. Even smaller or private archives might have more and completely different records and resources than does a state archives. One example would be police records. Here in Eastern Washington we have a wonderful Law Enforcement Museum and older police records are housed there." Another example would be the Diocesan Archives of the Catholic Church, also here in Spokane but covering all the parishes in Eastern Washington. "Those archives have materials that we don't and never will have," Lee stated.
Just look at my photo of the old books above that contain early deed/land information for Spokane County. Would you search in them by name? By address? By date? Would they be digitized and available online? Also look at the endless rows of document-storage boxes......... what treasures might they contain about your ancestor?
What you will not see are family history books or any files on specific families. You must look for your specific family in the records that they left behind.......... school records, voting records, naturalization records, etc. Those sorts of records are what's in an archives.
Tika was really snoring-fast-asleep when I finished explaining all of this to her! She is a dog after all.