In honor of National Preservation Month, the FSGS polled our local genealogical societies to see what efforts are being made to preserve Florida records on the community level. The response was outstanding, and we thank all those societies that responded with this valuable information.
The preservation of records and genealogical artifacts is key to helping future genealogists for generations to come. Florida’s genealogical societies are busy digitizing, indexing, compiling, and storing these records at an impressive rate. The information below explains the type of preservation projects our societies are working on and their plans for the future.
Our first chart breaks down the preservation efforts being made including digitizing, indexing, and preparing a finding aid. Each respondent could categorize their preservation efforts as past, present, or future. We also included an “other” column so societies could enter preservation projects that did not fit with the selections. When interpreting the results, we included some from others within the original categories. The additional “other” categories are marked in red below.
What are the most popular preservation projects (past, present, and future) for genealogical societies? A whopping 78% of genealogical societies are involved with preserving cemetery records, obituaries, and headstones. Local club scrapbooks, county or city courthouse records, and church registers and files round out the top past, present, and future projects.
What preservation projects will genealogical societies focus on in the future? Many have plans to preserve more cemetery records, but some societies, such as the Jacksonville Genealogical Society, have plans to preserve non-population census schedules, such as the 1900 census of school-aged children in Duval County and the Cuban Genealogy Club of Miami plans to continue their work on Ecclesiastical records.
What preservation projects are our local genealogical societies tackling right now? Cemetery records top the charts again for current preservation projects, followed by headstones and obituaries. Some societies are also preserving newspapers, genealogical society files, county and city vital records, local organization files and the Pinellas Genealogy Society is busy preserving Bible records and digitizing unpublished personal research.
What type of preservation projects have local genealogical societies worked on in the past? According to the answers we received, they have worked on all of the preservation projects listed. The top three are once again cemetery records, obituaries, and headstones. Other projects included military records, oral histories and the Central Florida Genealogical Society has worked on preserving city directories and the City of Orlando ledger records while the East Hillsborough Historical Society continues their work preserving newspapers.
In February, we featured the El Destino Plantation Project, a collaboration between The Villages Genealogical Society, Florida State Genealogical Society, and the Florida Historical Society. There are many more preservation projects that need volunteers! If your society is interested in volunteering, please contact Pat Rand, FSGS Preservation Projects Chair, at [email protected].
If you’re interested in creating your own local preservation project, but need help getting started, the FSGS will have a post about best practices for digitizing genealogical records and using scanning equipment available in the near future.