Archives Lady with WW

Melissa LeMaster Barker responds to the latest push to downsize, organize and purge by talking about “Do I Really Need to Keep That? Family Records We Should Not Throw Out.”

Melissa is a Certified Archives Manager currently working as the Houston County, Tennessee Archivist. She is also a Professional Genealogist and lectures, teaches and writes about researching in archives and records preservation. You’ll find her work here and on the web at:

Melissa recommends the following resources for archival materials:




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DearMYRTLE and Cousin Russ recognize the United Nations’ International Decade for People of African Descent 2015-2024. We reach out to _all_ regardless of race, color, creed, sexual orientation or national origin with support for researching family and documenting cultural inheritance.


19:01:08 From Melissa LeMaster Barker : Hello Everyone!
19:01:11 From Cousin Russ : When posting in the “Zoom Webinar Chat” , change the “TO” portion to read “ALL PANELISTS AND ATTENDEES.” By default it reads “all panelists.”
19:01:24 From Yvonne Demoskoff : Hi!
19:01:42 From Maurene Fehling : Hello
19:02:02 From Gary Gauthier : Hello from Calgary!!!
19:02:02 From Betty-Lu Burton : Hi everyone. Happy to hear Melissa tonight
19:02:35 From Linda Braddock to All panelists : Hey, Melissa! Gail from TNGS! [NOTE: Tennessee Genealogical Society.]
19:02:56 From Melissa LeMaster Barker : Hello Gail!
19:08:44 From Betty-Lu Burton : I found out by accident that not only was my Great- grandfather was in prison, but also that he lost his leg in the Civil War.
19:09:29 From Gary Gauthier : Was just working on a story like that.
19:11:54 From Sarah Bell : Or if not the outlaw themselves, they may have appeared as a witness in a criminal case!
19:12:08 From Cassandra Davis to All panelists : Have a hard time locating bootlegger family in Birmingham, AL. Not NARA Atlanta (Eliot Nest was Treasury?), AL Archive, not in Birmingham Library Archive.
19:12:48 From Cassandra Davis to All panelists : Bootleggers were local, state, federal?
19:13:56 From Cassandra Davis to All panelists : City jail?
19:15:14 From Sarah Bell : Are there often indexes for these court records? Or would you have to trawl through lots of documents, looking for names and dates?
19:15:35 From Betty-Lu Burton : I wonder if my grandfather Baker might be in some court records. I was told that since he was a retired locksmith that several times the police would ask for his alibi after certain crimes were committed
19:16:11 From Cassandra Davis to All panelists : He had drive up delivery at home. Arrested, but sheriff or head police was also Mason, so he never stayed in jail long. Great story, but no paper. Thanks, I have a research path.
19:17:18 From Sarah Bell : Newspapers may publish court sittings too
19:19:43 From Gary Gauthier : Are the civil and criminal case records separate in all situations, or are they together in smaller communities?
19:21:02 From Betty-Lu Burton : I have that problem with one of my ancestors. He was apparently a real estate agent and there are tons of land deeds with his name on them. The time period 1800-1810
19:22:05 From Cassandra Davis to All panelists : Great for union and civil rights arrests.
19:26:51 From Joyce Westphal to All panelists : In our county, the moonshiners were often quickly released as the sheriff himself was one of their best customers and was often paid a bribe in moonshine.
19:27:09 From Cassandra Davis to All panelists : How do contact police for past records vs I need help now? Not eager to annoy my police department, or FBI. Thanks.
19:28:02 From Cousin Russ : Former Alcatraz Inmates List
19:28:42 From Betty-Lu Burton : How I had found out my great grandfather had been in prison was the 1890 veteran’s schedule
19:28:49 From Sarah Bell : There are gaol books for NSW here in Australia, some even have pictures of the inmates!
19:28:56 From Cousin Russ : Federal Bureau of Prisons
19:29:58 From Cousin Russ :
19:30:00 From Betty-Lu Burton : What kind of problems would someone have with privacy laws when looking for prison records?
19:31:04 From Gary Gauthier : Try this for Ontario, Canada
19:31:30 From Sarah Bell : Police gazettes are good too, they have physical descriptions of people etc
19:31:37 From Cousin Russ : Idaho Inmates – Miners
19:32:44 From Sarah Bell : @Betty-Lu, I know inmate records are confidential for many years here in Aus
19:34:07 From Sarah Bell : It’s always interesting seeing convict records – people were transported to Australia for things as simple as stealing a loaf of bread or a handkerchief!
19:35:40 From Deb Andrew : Not all people who are listed with a prison or jail address, they maybe an employee.
19:39:52 From Yvonne Demoskoff : that fellow went to jail for stealing a barber’s razors
19:41:02 From Cousin Russ : Sacramento California Police Mug Books
19:43:00 From Beverly Anderson to All panelists : My 3rd GGrandfather was imprisoned in Sweden and than sent to the US. He stole a horse in Minnesota and returned to Sweden. HIs Swedish prison records are at: Two of his arrest/prison records have pictures.
19:46:21 From Gary Gauthier : In Canada, we have the strangest of record set held in the National Archives of Canada: PERSONS SENTENCED TO DEATH IN CANADA, 1867-1976: An Inventory of Case Files in the Fonds of the Department of Justice
19:48:01 From Yvonne Demoskoff : The husband of one of my grandmother’s cousins is in that set of records, Gary
19:48:29 From Gary Gauthier : Oh, so you are aware of it, Yvonne
19:49:00 From Yvonne Demoskoff : I discovered it about 6 years ago, Gary
19:50:26 From Yvonne Demoskoff : the fellow killed five family members and was hanged for it in 1935 in the prov. of QC
19:50:33 From Gary Gauthier : Here is another good starting point in Canada (for the record):
19:51:09 From Yvonne Demoskoff : I’ll take a look at that
19:53:25 From Mark Barrus : Could possibly be foul play.
19:55:52 From Sheryl Whisenhunt : Never say never.
20:02:42 From Yvonne Demoskoff : His name is Michael Bradley
20:04:48 From Maurene Fehling : Thank you very much!!
20:04:56 From Mark Barrus : thanks again
20:05:33 From Deb Andrew : Mine is suppose to come tomorrow.
20:05:55 From Yvonne Demoskoff : Mine won’t be here for 1-3 months 🙁
20:07:15 From Deb Andrew : Yes.
20:07:31 From Mary Rieman : Yes
20:07:51 From Debbie Moore : Oh that would be lovely!
20:08:09 From Joyce Westphal to All panelists : Yes, would pay for a lecture series
20:08:11 From Yvonne Demoskoff : A small fee seems worth it
20:08:17 From Sarah Bell : Yes, if it’s at a good time for Aussies 😉
20:08:36 From Sarah Bell : 12.30 PM – thursday
20:09:42 From Gary Gauthier : I’m so busy now that I couldn’t at present, but maybe sometime later
20:10:10 From Yvonne Demoskoff : Goodnight!
20:10:14 From Gary Gauthier : bye

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