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    • CommentAuthorflecky
    • CommentTimeJun 1st 2012
     (10686.21)
    #findingphotos

    When I was a squatting bastard, I used to go to libraries (usually the big ones), and, I think, Public-Access Departments in town-halls, to go through the history of empty buildings. I don't know why I mention this...

    Libraries, Archivist HQ!
    •  
      CommentAuthorallana
    • CommentTimeJun 1st 2012
     (10686.22)
    #FindingPhotos

    http://www.archives.gov/locations/

    Archives are not libraries. Libraries are for books. Archives are for all paper documents -- photos, letters, receipts, lists, scraps, newspapers -- and lots of non-paper documents -- Jackie Onassis's blood-stained pink dress is in an archive, I learned last week. Actually I learned it from this column, which is pretty cute and altogether accurate. The second iteration contains a rough guide to the process: Use Google, find it useless, talk to people and collect names and dates, then go find an archivist and let them take it from there.

    Libraries won't really help you except with periodicals, which you probably won't be able to search very efficiently.

    Online resources to start with would genealogy websites or online versions of old newspapers and journals from the towns where your friend's family is from. You might want to send off emails to Germany, but that's sort of a long shot if you haven't got enough detail.
    •  
      CommentAuthorallana
    • CommentTimeJun 1st 2012
     (10686.23)
    #FindingPhotos

    I'm actually about to undertake a similar project, starring my best friend's grandparents and their eight-year love story. I have all the letters he wrote to her, scanned and about to be transcribed, but I'm going to hunt for supplementary stuff -- pictures, records of his service in WWI, articles he wrote (as a sports journalist and then as a war correspondent), and anything I can dig up about her, who was a typist and then a teacher in Toronto. Stay tuned! And I'll let you know if I learn/think of any new research tips and tricks.
    • CommentAuthorMrMonk
    • CommentTimeJun 1st 2012 edited
     (10686.24)
    #findingphotos

    @Rachael, you may be setting yourself up for a long-term research project. Your friend is going to have to get involved to give you the leads that you need (unless you intend to surprise him). Is he in contact with any of his relatives from his father's generation?

    There are archives all over the place, but to use them efficiently, you have to have information: who, what, where, when, kinships, friendships, affiliations . . .

    Some libraries have archives. Some newspapers may let you access their archives. Some immigration records are open (if the wife had to enter America there is probably a trail of paperwork somewhere). Find out if she has any living relatives.

    See if you can find out his father's military history. Many military units have a historian who keeps archives of photographs and other records of their history, and a number of them publish online. If he was a member of some fraternal organizations, they may also have archives of members photos. His wife may be in some photos with him. Even if not, you might be able to find some other leads from these sources.

    There are also online genealogy sites, though some require fees. In any case, the more information that you can start with the better off you will be.

    Edit: I forgot to mention that the internet probably offers all sorts of free advice on how to conduct research.
  1.  (10686.25)
    @allana: Libraries (despite the name) are for more than just books. Many include archives.
    •  
      CommentAuthorallana
    • CommentTimeJun 1st 2012
     (10686.26)
    @Jason, sorry to have a mental breakdown in this thread, but I'm resisting the urge to respond with a "Duh."
    Seriously, people, aren't we supposed to be the online enclave of erudition? How do you not know about archives? I am having a bit of culture shock, I apologize.
  2.  (10686.27)
    #nogreenthumb

    When transplanting did she put the dirt above where it was when the tree was in the pot? That can choke the tree out.
  3.  (10686.28)
    #findingphotos

    @allana - I know nothing of archives, nor what a library could do to benefit me other than rent me a book, or perhaps a movie. I am of the "duh" population. I've never had any cause to use one, nor visit one. Maybe it's a university thing? I only took one year of crap college, so the collegiate/research end of things would never have been in my experience. When you tell me to go to an archive, I've no idea what that means, or what it would entail. :\

    @Mr Monk - Yes, it was my attempt at a surprise, and I've been trying to get as much information as I can from him without seeming pushy. I know the woman's married name, the year she died, her husband's name, and a rough idea of when they were living in what countries. I was hoping for some kind of military ID database or something, y'know? Like how you can look up someone's old mug shot. I was hoping that there were old passport photos somewhere online or something. I suppose that'd be too easy.
    • CommentAuthorflecky
    • CommentTimeJun 2nd 2012
     (10686.29)
    #findingphotos

    @Rachael: Don't worry, if you are a "duh" citizen, then I am King-Duh! If someone asked me to go to an archive, I would just have to say, "Sorry, I can't help you."

    I thought the whole idea of this thread was to be able to ask for advice, suggestions etc. about things we don't know about, without feeling like we have to explain our inexperience. If I'm wrong, then please excuse me. I'm not trying to start a debate or anything, as I know even less about how to do that.

    Good luck with your project, Rachael.
    •  
      CommentAuthorallana
    • CommentTimeJun 2nd 2012
     (10686.30)
    What's so embarrassing about explaining your inexperience? I am genuinely curious as to why you people don't know this shit. It's not insulting, though.The only way to ask for the right kind of help is to admit what you don't know. Again, something I thought was obvious.

    Maybe it's an American thing? You guys (whole country, not Whitechapel representatives) seem like you wouldn't know a useful publicly-funded service if it came up and hit you in the face. I guess I shouldn't be so surprised.
    •  
      CommentAuthorallana
    • CommentTimeJun 2nd 2012
     (10686.31)
    Anyways, the links I posted are genuinely useful.
    Also the military-specific archives are your best bet, since they're generally quite comprehensive.
    •  
      CommentAuthorFinagle
    • CommentTimeJun 2nd 2012 edited
     (10686.32)
    #archiveshit

    I had an undergraduate major in history, and I vaguely knew such things existed, but never had call to make use of one.

    Since you're asking for an American opinion, I'll give one. America's a big place, and composed of 50 states that vary wildly in terms of their attitudes towards such things. In the places like Massachusetts where such things are well-regarded, the is a glut of such stuff. There are dozens in Boston alone, some right down the street from me. Nobody presented me with a flyer about then when moving into the neighborhood, and I've never had a specific reason to search them out.

    Things like local Historical Societies here are hit and miss. They are largely privately funded, or funded at the State level, not the federal level. I really don't think that the U.S. situation is comparable to smaller countries with a stronger central government that take an active interest in promoting such things.
    • CommentAuthorflecky
    • CommentTimeJun 2nd 2012
     (10686.33)
    #findingphotos

    @allana: Yeah, the links you posted are excellent, and I've learnt something new today. And what you said, about asking for the right kind of help by admitting what you don't know, is true. Sometimes, I don't see the obvious things.

    I guess I was reading too much between the lines of Rachael's post, and got all defensive by projecting my own feelings of inadequacy about why I know so little about what goes on in the World. I can only speak for myself, but I've met some people who I perceive to take a perverse pleasure in making me feel stupid because I, say, know nothing about computers etc. Due to my lifestyle, I've learnt how to survive in situations these people would crumble in, and I know a lot of things that they don't, but I try not to indulge in "Darkside Snobbery". I've been in a sort-of coma for years, and I'm in a learning process constantly.

    I hope this makes some sense, but I still shouldn't leak my attitude on this thread. It's not the right place, and I definitely don't need them fucking maggots!
    •  
      CommentAuthoroldhat
    • CommentTimeJun 2nd 2012 edited
     (10686.34)
    #archiveshit

    Rachael, I can only speak from my own experience here in Toronto, but to perhaps explain a bit of Allana's befuddlement is that a lot of us (and by "us" I mean a lot of people I know throughout Ontario and parts of Canada) learned at a pretty young age about the practicality of researching for stuff in a library and taking things a step further by going to an archive. It wasn't a university thing, but more of a middle school-onward thing for us. I know a lot of friends who took field trips in to Toronto just to go to Toronto Reference Library where they learned how to find stuff. Just using these amazing free publicly funded resources is just sort of second nature and I kind of get that schools both within Canada and especially outside of Canada, might not instill that on youngsters.

    But yeah, America has some great places. NYC especially (Department of Records, The National Archives), though I think I nearly died of happiness when I was in Washington and entered the Library of Congress photography archives.

    So yeah, I dunno. Culture shock?
    •  
      CommentAuthordorkmuffin
    • CommentTimeJun 2nd 2012 edited
     (10686.35)
    #archiveshit

    I know it exists, but because I'm one of the AGE OF INTERNET researchers, archives were never really stressed as a convenient or useful resources since all the internet has to offer was at my fingertips. And this is coming from someone who has done a LOT of research and gone to some really swanky educational institutions. I've only looked through archives very rarely.

    Most of us know about things like the LoC, but people think of them less in terms like "archives" and more like "big place where I can find original source material."

    [shrug]

    Culture difference I guess.

    I think it also makes a huge difference based on what disciplines you work in. For certain history and social science topics (and urban planning I think), archives DO make sense, but not all across the board. We often get taught research methods appropriate to the project we're working on. SO, if you're someone who isn't relatively advanced within a field like history, you may never have had a reason to look through archives. As a result, archives are largely used by scholastic nerds within certain disciplines.

    Anyway. 2 cents.
    • CommentAuthorflecky
    • CommentTimeJun 2nd 2012
     (10686.36)
    #archiveshit

    @oldhat and dorkmuffin: That helped clear my befuddled brain. Culture shock!
    •  
      CommentAuthoroldhat
    • CommentTimeJun 2nd 2012 edited
     (10686.37)
    #archiveshit
    Yeah, I know that when I first learned about researching things, there was still a bit of trouble bringing computers with internet in to the school and by the time I entered high school the internet was mainly full of animated gifs and X-files episode summaries.

    ...

    ...



    But anyways, we're good now, yes? I hope Rachael has an answer and that the link Allana provided is useful. Good luck on the search!
    • CommentAuthorArgos
    • CommentTimeJun 2nd 2012
     (10686.38)
    #archives

    Going along with what @Dorkmuffin said, in my high school & college years, I wasn't taught to use an archive, I was taught how to search for the info I needed online (how to find legitimate stuff that you can actually cite as a source). As for elementary & middle school, I learned to use the library, but nothing beyond that. Furthermore, in college, my hardcore research was only ever for scientific papers, all of which are online. So again echoing what Dorkmuffin said, unless you're researching history or urban planning, you have no reason to use them. I sure never did.
  4.  (10686.39)
    @ allana and everyone - I don't find anything embarrassing about admitting what I don't know, but your brusque reaction to my inquiry really did seem like a put down in response. Eh. Good to know that I'm not the pinnacle of archival ignorance as I'd initially feared.

    #findingphotos -

    So, I need an archive. So what kind of archives should I be seeking out? Specifically, does anyone know if there even IS a resource that would allow me to view old passport or state ID photographs from overseas US military? Or is that considered restricted information? Honestly, aside from finding photographs via military records, I really can't imagine I have enough information to find anything from other sources. I suppose I could hope to have another in depth-IM conversation with him about his family history, which is really ideal for the subtle information mining!
    •  
      CommentAuthoroldhat
    • CommentTimeJun 2nd 2012
     (10686.40)
    #findingphotos Instead of risking the potential of someone accidentally putting you on the wrong path, the better bet would be to phone the National Archives in NYC, explain the situation to them and get them to provide some input on where you should go.