Monday, November 30, 2015

Genealogical secrets

The last chapter of the Gospel of Mark and beginning of  Luke in Dutch.
This is a guest blog by MSMU Archives Asst. Nancy L. Steinmann, MLIS. Nancy has been working on a project to prepare some of  MSMU's oldest books for formal cataloging. 
A HIDDEN TREASURE surfaced in the Mount Archives last week during some routine assessment of special collections volumes. The rare 1878 Bible in Dutch revealed family genealogical information written on the flyleaves and on inserted loose leaves in the volume.

The entries for the families DeGries and Hoverleden document births and deaths ranging from 1843 to 1940. Few clues for the origin of the Bible exist except for a small note tucked inside the leaves saying that it was donated by “Sister St. Michael.” She later went by Sr. Michael Flaherty, CSJ, of the Los Angeles Province of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, who passed away in 2012 at the age of 86.

The Bible was in a very poor state of preservation, with the pages crumbling due to natural acids (lignin) in the wood-pulp paper. While rare, it had little monetary value due to its condition. However, the family information preserved in the context of the volume provides priceless evidence for genealogical research. But first it must be made available to potential users.

In accordance with our deaccession policy, the MSMU Archives searched for a repository with similar materials to house the volume. A centralized national repository would allow the materials and their historic information to be easily located. The National Genealogical Society (NGS) in Arlington, Va., happily responded.

Organized in 1903, the NGS exists to provide education and training to the genealogical community, promoting access to and preservation of genealogical records. The organization will scan the family information and add the names to their extensive database of Bible records The volume itself will be stored in the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Library in Washington, D.C., with the rest of the NGS Bible collection.

In its new home, this rare Bible will add to the growing treasure of genealogical information available to online users, connecting families to their past, and preserving the gracious donation of Sister St. Michael for future generations.

For further information about these genealogical resources, please see:

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