Flash Drives

Still on the organizing topic… making sense out of chaos…

How many flash drives? I started accumulating all in one spot… So far I have found eleven of various sizes, shapes and colors. I’m sure more are hiding around our house.

How to organize? How to identify what is on each one?

I used the small, round key tags to label each with a number. The number refers to a piece of paper with a copy of the contents which I captured using a “snipping tool” and transferred to a WORD document.

Unfortunately, during this process, I did NOT find the missing photos I was hoping might have been put on a flash drive. Perhaps I will find the photos on another flash drive when it surfaces.

Remember, however, do NOT use flash drives as a back up. These handy gadgets are not known for stability. Intended use is merely to transfer data or for short term storage.



Am I going paperless? Well, not totally… but I’m giving it a try in a couple areas!

Recently, I agreed to two volunteer positions: a 3-year term as Elder on our church board and a 2-year term as Secretary for the Iowa Genealogical Society board.

Also recently, I acquired a slightly used Microsoft Surface Pro tablet, which will transport easily to my many upcoming meetings. (By the way, so far I LOVE this tablet!)

Since I’ve read positive comments about Evernote, a note-taking and organizing software, I’m going to try Evernote as a way to take notes and organize the agenda, notes, minutes and other items from these meetings. I’m impressed with the ability to sync the Evernote files on my tablet with my desktop at home without having to use flash drives.

SO…………… I’m going to see how it goes! With all of our attempts to organize and reduce the paper we already have in our house, I absolutely must reduce the amount of paper coming into our house. Paperless, as far as I can possibly take it in these two endeavors! I’ll let you know how it goes.

Recently while working on a writing project I realized that our family might not realize what they held in their hands when they find this Bible (wrapped in Tyvek in our home safe)… writing the story of a family Bible was needed:

Warren and Nancy McNeill Family Bible, Holy Bible, (New York: The American Bible Society, 1828); original owned in 2014 by Marieta (Pehrson) Grissom (Indianola, IA 50125).

The Bible is 4½” by 7½” by 2¼” thick, and has a well-worn leather cover. In somewhat dilapidated condition, it is possible other pages are missing, however, the birth page is in tact and secure in the binding of the volume.

The person(s) who wrote the entries was literate, but not accustomed to writing, as evidenced by the inconsistent capitalization and punctuation, and difficulty judging how much space it would take to record a date and having to continue to another line.

The birth dates (1832 to 1850) of all known children of Warren and Nancy (Deem) McNeill are recorded in various inks and handwriting. (Transcribed below, punctuation and capitalization are as found on the Bible page.)

Orren McNeill Was Born August the, 21. 1832
Norman McNeill Was Born August the, 30. 1834 and Died the 22 of January 1835 [this is the only evidence we have of Norman's existence]
William Anderson McNeill Was born November the 14: 1835
Solomon McNeill Was born April the 22 1839
Alford McNeill Was born May the 26: 1841 [note the spelling of Alfred's first name]
Henry Clay McNeill Was born June the 1: 1847
Margaret Lavina McNeill Was Born November the 8 1850

Warren (1810-1868) and Nancy (1812-1870) were my great-great-great grandparents; I’m descended through their son Alfred.

This Bible is OLD! How many of us have artifacts that have been touched by so many generations? How many of us have actual samples of penmanship by a family member 180+ years ago?

The McNeill Family Bible apparently passed from Warren and Nancy McNeill to their son Alfred McNeill, to his daughter, Edith (McNeill) Morrill, to her son, Ernest Morrill, then, to his cousin, O. R. Pehrson, a grandson of Edith’s brother, Leonard, in approximately 1984. My mother, Thelma Pehrson, gave it to me in July 2006.

This Bible is a family treasure; it must be preserved and saved for the generations!

McNeill Bible - inside enh

McNeill Bible cover

Recently as I purchased still another book with a spiral binding, I realized that I needed a creative way to label the numerous spiral binders on my shelves.

A member of a Facebook group called “The Organized Genealogist,” I posed the question to the group. Responses included 1) using key tags and 2) punching holes in the books and placing them in a 3-ring binder. I didn’t like the latter suggestion because it requires binder investment and space investment (since binders take up more shelf space). I kind of liked the key tag idea, yet it didn’t seem like quite the perfect solution either.

Then I posed the problem to my husband along with the group’s suggestions. His ingenuity amazes me!

We save slats from old mini-blinds to use as plant markers in our garden and flower beds. He suggested trimming some of them, punching holes in the top and bottom, labeling them appropriately, and attaching them to the wire binding using zip ties (cable ties, Home Depot electrical department smallest ones 100/$3.99). The zip ties can be tightened close to the spiral and nothing is left to flop around.

Ta Da! Inexpensive and works great!

spiral binder labels

Digging, finding, writing about hidden genealogy resources in Iowa.

Research Center, Sioux City Public Museum
607 4th Street
Sioux City, IA 51101


I prefer to make appointments before I visit; sometimes it just doesn’t happen. This was one of those times. While hunting, at the last minute, for some materials to take on this trip, I happened across a newspaper clipping I saved from the July 9, 2014 Des Moines Register “History Digitized at Research Center.” (Metro Edition, p. 8a)

Thus, I walked into the Research Center cold. Once I explained my project Tom Munson (whose photo appeared in the newspaper article) was ready to help.

The museum and research center are located in the heart of downtown Sioux City and are obviously part of a downtown revitalization project. The building was formerly a J.C. Penney’s department store. In 2005 the city selected the building for the museum, in 2010 the moving began, and the museum and research center opened in April 2011. The commitment of the city and the abundant space for the museum and research center are enviable. The building offers excellent climate control for the collections.

Tom explained that the Research Center does NOT have vital records; these can be accessed at the court house. And, the center does NOT have the newspaper microfilm as this can be accessed at the public library.

Still, the holdings of the Research Center are amazing. And the detailed list of the holdings is even more amazing! More than 60,000 items are included on the Subject List which can be found on their website. The list also functions as a finding aid for the staff with subject/title, collection #, and location. The online version is updated about once a year.

With over 30,000 black & white photos in the collection, Tom said that many people use the resources here for creating house and business histories. The center also has all of the Sioux City directories that were ever printed (1871-2009), tax registers (1857-1880) and original Sanborn maps (1902-1919, 1924-1948-1968) all of which are also helpful in creating house and business histories.

Topical newspaper clipping collections include quality of life topics, i.e., business, churches, and clubs, as well as the people. One collection has more than 600 oral histories that were recorded 1978-1981 and nearly a hundred more that were recorded more recently.

Original records include the naturalization records for Woodbury County (1860s-1940s). A resource that I have not seen elsewhere is a collection of Sioux City jail registers (1899-1940s).

The Daily Commercial Reporter was a publication that included everything legal that happened in town. Some volumes (probably 1924, 1925, and 1926) are missing, otherwise the center’s holdings cover 1915-1998; however, this is not indexed yet. Another project waiting to be indexed is a collection of obituaries from the Sioux City Tribune (1893-1907).

The center has all of the Central High School yearbooks 1905-1972, about half of the East High School yearbooks, Bishop Heelan High School yearbooks for 1951-2011, and about 70% of the Morningside College yearbooks.

While this is not considered a genealogy center Tom said, “If you have family here or family that was ever here, we will have something for you.” I believe it!

Dust & Grime

I have written about the shelving in my genealogy room, approximately 110 linear feet of shelving, most of it is the heavy duty steel, office type. Unfortunately, no adjustable shelves, but three-ring binders fit comfortably with 3+ inches of clearance at the top (enough room to pile loose papers on top of the binders). Fortunately, the shelving is a cream color, not a warehouse grey.

It has been twelve years since we added onto our house and created my lower level genealogy room. While moving items from the shelves to the filing cabinets, I have made an interesting discovery. Dust and grime have settled into the tops of my notebooks, scrapbooks, photo albums and piles of papers! Imagine that!

It is a good thing I am moving most of the notebook materials and loose papers into the filing cabinets. This should be a safer environment for them.

By the way, the filing cabinets are sitting on 2″x4″ blocks to allow ventilation under them, and we have two dehumidifiers in our basement and keep a close eye on their function.

However, what about the scrapbooks and photo albums? Currently many of them are laying on my shelves, gathering dust and grime. As I’ve toured Iowa’s various repositories I’ve noticed that many archives store scrapbooks in preservation boxes. I have too many scrapbooks in too many odd sizes to do this within my retirement budget.

However, while visiting another archives, I noticed many of their scrapbooks were wrapped in something and laying on the shelves. I asked the archivist what they use for wrapping their scrapbooks. Tyvek was the answer. Light bulb flash in brain: what about using the tyvek product that is used in home construction? Would that be any cheaper than ordering tyvek from a preservation company?

I started my research, reviewing websites for three archival supply companies (Gaylord, Hollinger Metal Edge, and Light Impressions), pages for building construction materials (Lowe’s and Home Depot) and searched for general information on “tyvek.” Findings: Materials from both the archival supply companies as well as the building construction companies are labeled “tyvek.” DuPont owns the rights to the tyvek product name. Tyvek is a light weight, pH neutral, high-density polyethylene (HDPE) product that protects from water, dirt, dust, UV rays, and is resistant to tearing, mold, and mildew. Sounds like the perfect product for preserving scrapbooks!

My husband thought I’d have to buy a roll 12 feet wide and miles long costing hundreds of dollars. But I discovered that Lowe’s sells a 3′ x 100′ roll of DuPont Tyvek HomeWrap for $35.99. This fits my budget!

Would an archivist agree with my thinking? I submitted a query to the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) email list. A respected archivist responded, “You are correct. Tyvek is tyvek.” Another professional responded with the reminder, “The only difference is that the Tyvek used on buildings has a logo on it. As long as that side isn’t facing the item you’re protecting (I know, you didn’t need me to tell you that), you’re fine.”

Hurrah! Looks like I have figured out how to keep dust and grime out of my scrapbooks and photo albums. Looks like I need to find hours in the day to do another project!

Continuing our exploration for hidden genealogy resources in Iowa:

Dutch Heritage Room, DeWitt Library
Northwestern College
101 7th Street SW
Orange City, Iowa 51041


Aah, Orange City! I had never been there, but I’ve always lived near Pella, an earlier Dutch community. The Dutch settlement of Orange City was established as a colony of Pella.

Greta Grond and Doug Anderson were especially helpful as they explained the Dutch heritage of the area. Besides the usual college records, the archives includes a large collection of Tulip Festival scrapbooks covering 1936-1990 as well as other Sioux County histories, memoirs and genealogies. Henry Hospers was the initiator of the group who moved from Pella to Orange City and he was a long-time newspaper publisher. His collection is held here. A digitization project of their collections is continuing and being placed on their website.

The archives also holds a collection of RCA (Reformed Church in America) church records for disbanded churches in Iowa, North & South Dakota, and Minnesota. Check the online Finding Aids for more information.

Another significant piece of information is that De Volksvriend, a Dutch language newspaper founded by Henry Hospers and published from 1872 to 1951, has been digitized and is available online through the National Library of the Netherlands. An explanatory page for non-Dutch speakers and a link to the images is found on the archives website. A helpful article about De Volksvriend is “Dateline Orange City, Iowa: De Volksvriend and the Creation of Dutch American Community in the Midwest, 1874-1951″ by Robert Schoone-Jungen, Annals of Iowa, volume 69, Summer 2010, pp. 308-331. This newspaper is particularly significant because it served as a communication hub: correspondents from many other Dutch settlements used this newspaper as a means of communicating with each other.

I don’t usually purchase books during these visits since it could break my budget, but this time I purchased Images of America: Orange City by Doug Anderson, Tim Schlak, Greta Grond, and Sarah Kaltenbach (Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing, 2014). Filled with many photographs, it is very helpful for understanding the community and the heritage.

Before we left town we had eaten our picnic lunch in the Windmill Park and purchased Dutch letters and three different kinds of meat. Everyone we met in the park, in the shops and at the college seemed so genuinely welcoming.

All in all, it was a delicious experience!


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