First things first (obviously). My topic is going to be the Nazi population control techniques, including their persecution of the Jews, their philosophy on motherhood, and actual population statistics to see how well they did.
Second things second. How would I preserve [insert important topic here]? It says on the syllabus “Create a preservation path, describing any hardware, software, and processes needed, for your family’s historical record” but Prof Cohen said in class that it just had to be anything that was important to us.
I admit that my family’s genealogy is important to me, and will be one of the main topics in my autobiography that I’m totally going to write someday. I feel like bringing this up right now:
This is a photo of my parents at their wedding. Why is only my mother’s face in there, you may ask. Where is my father’s face? The answer is I don’t know. I’m already working from corrupted data, you see.*
I have gathered:
Census data from 1850-1930, every ten years, except for 1890 obviously (*shakes fist at fire god*)
Civil war records on Richard Hobson Cofer, Confederate Soldier and Surrenderer Extraordinaire
Photographs and letters on my great-great-grandfather Herman Handke
Attempted immigration form, filled out by Laura Handke and her second husband
Draft Cards for my great-great grandfather and my great-grandfather Joseph William Hanchers
Death Certificate of Joseph William Hancher II
This is quite a lot, considering I did it all in a genealogy binge over the course of three months.
Most of it is in paper format, on typical inkjet paper, printed at the National Archives or at my boyfriend’s apartment. I also have a digital copy of my family tree, but for the most part my genealogy records are tangible. Census data is saved in the National Archives’ database. I have no idea how they save it or intend to preserve it. They also have microfilm reels of RH Cofer’s Civil War documents. I looked on their website to see if I could get an idea what efforts they were taking to preserve their data. The first thing I spotted was a typo:
In addition, the Conservation staff monitors the environmental conditions in Arvhives’ buildings in the Washington, DC, area; provide preservation training to Archives employees, contractors, and vendors who handle records; provide for the preservation of documents on exhibit in the Washington, DC, facilities; and, furnish technical advice and assistance to ensure the preservation of items lent for exhibition.
That was from the paragraph on the Document Conservation Laboratory. The relevant part, I think, is in their second section, Special Media Preservation Library.
is responsible for reformatting and duplicating records created on textual and nontextual formats. This includes duplicating motion picture film, still photos, microfilm, and sound and video recordings; microfilming paper records; reformatting audio and video recordings in obsolete formats that cannot be used on currently-available playback equipment; and, generating digital images of records. These program activities result in the removal of fragile records from use, while still providing access to their informational content by capturing the information in a new format.
If I’m allowed to believe anything I hear on NPR, a lot of what they do is this, preserving and digitizing old analogue records. Some employees aren’t a fan, I guess because it’s gruntwork? I don’t know, but their employee satisfaction numbers are the lowest among government workers.
I’m not going to lie: I really like microfilm. I think it’s a good, simple system. I think that in the future, After the End, post-Ragnarok and -Resurrection, the few meebly humans who are left to repopulate the earth will eventually be able to figure out that you just have to shine a light through the film and then blow it up with a microscope. I would like my records saved in microfilm format. My autobiography, my choices pictures of my family, pets, and art, my genealogy records, I would like all of that saved in microfilm format, and kept in a vacuum tube.
They’ll be left with no idea what my dad looked like on his wedding day though. Just saying.
*Mom insists that this is just a snapshot and that there’s a real picture of my parents cutting their wedding cake somewhere, BUT I DON’T BELIEVE HER