01 August 2013

Favorite Records: Vertical Files

     There's one set of records that will likely be one of the last to end up online: Vertical Files.  These records are located at libraries, archives, courthouses, and genealogical societies. They are made up of random collections of documents, covering a variety of topics, including locations, events, and surnames (often specifically referred to as Family Files). The records and documents are often a collection of random papers submitted by individual researchers.  Records could include copies of family group sheets, bible records, maps, photos, newspaper clippings, obituary indexes, and more.  They are usually organized in manilla envelopes in file cabinets.  Depending on how well these files are kept up, these records can get extremely disorganize.  In my experience, these files are often kept out of sight, so make sure to ask about them if you don't see them.

     The scope of information in the records often depends on the type of repository they're kept at.  Local libraries or courthouses usually contain information specific to that location.  So if you are researching a Smith family, the vertical files at the library in their home county are a great place to look.  Repositories that serve larger areas, such as state archives, keep files covering more diverse topics.  For example, the files at the Georgia Archive have an individual folder for churches and cemeteries for each county in the state.

     One document I recently found at the Lincoln County Library, is a document written by a distant cousin, detailing his memories of my Great-Great-Great Grandfather, Thomas Albea.  He wrote about where is his "Uncle Thomas Tillman" lived and his marriage to his second wife.  It's a personal recollection of my 3x Great Grandfather that helps to present him as a real person.

     Ultimately, the great thing about Verticle Files is that they are alive and interactive.  You can contribute to them!  If you are going to a repository with vertical files, print out copies of some of your records to add to the files; perhaps a family group sheet or scans of photo.  Attach your business card or just your email address and you never know, the next researcher who comes along might be a new cousin!

1 comment:

Jana Iverson Last said...


I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at http://janasgenealogyandfamilyhistory.blogspot.com/2013/08/follow-friday-fab-finds-for-august-2.html

Have a great weekend!


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