Genealogists dig through old photos, vital records, and other resources. In doing so, they preserve parts of the past and tell the story of their ancestors. Genealogy becomes a lot more difficult if the important records have been lost or destroyed. It is easy to see why people who are involved in The Archive Corps choose to save things before they disappear.
It’s hard to know for certain exactly what will reveal important information about an ancestor. True, a birth certificate, or a high school yearbook, can give you glimpses into an ancestor’s life. Sometimes, it is the unusual bits of history that enable you to learn the full story. Things that are unimportant to you could be exactly what someone else has been searching for.
The Archive Corps is a volunteer effort run by Jason Scott. He, and those who volunteer, organize the saving of physical materials that are in danger of loss. Their goal is to “make the insurmountable, surmountable” when it comes to rescue missions or communications regarding materials.
If this effort sounds like something you want to help with, you can sign up via a form on the Archive Corp website. You can also follow @archivecorps on Twitter if you want to see what else they do. The first tweet on that account describes The Archive Corp as “an emergency History Saving Collective”.
The Archive Corp was created in August of 2015 after Jason Scott and several volunteers rescued over 50,000 manuals from destruction in a Maryland warehouse. It was a place called Manuals Plus, and it was about to close down forever. The place was filled with old manuals for electronic test and measurement.
Jason Scott put together a blog post about the effort made by himself and around 70 volunteers to save as many manuals as possible. They ended up doing about two months work in just two days time. They couldn’t save everything that was in the warehouse, but skilled, knowledgable, volunteers were able to pull the unique manuals, including the ones that had minor changes in revision.
What about the rest? Manuals Plus has made an agreement with The Internet Archive. The entire Manuals Plus collection (from the warehouse in Maryland) is going to be digitally added to the Internet Archive.
What does this have to do with genealogy? It points out that things that seem unrelated to your research could end up being important. One of those rescued manuals could be for a machine your ancestor worked with – or helped design. Thanks to The Archive Corps, and the Internet Archive, there is a chance you can view the manual and learn more about your ancestor’s occupation.
Image by Shelah on Flickr.
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