Bring your Questions to Ask An Archivist on October 5

The new listings for October events on the Trails of History are up. Since October starts tomorrow, I guess that's a good thing! Lots to do to celebrate fall.

Today's post comes from PHMC Social Media Manager Sean Adkins, with info on the Pennsylvania State Archives and #AskAnArchivist, coming up next Wednesday, Oct. 5.

The Pennsylvania State Archives has a had busy year. This spring, the Archives unveiled plans to build a new home on a multi-acre plot along North Sixth Street in Harrisburg. Paying homage to Pennsylvania's namesake, William Penn, the address for the soon-to-be built project will be 1681 N. Sixth St. in Harrisburg. Pennsylvania was created when England’s King Charles II granted a charter to Penn in 1681.

So...with news for the new Archives building still fresh in our minds and the always present need to know more about Pennsylvania history, there should be no shortage of questions from the public for Ask An Archivist Day.

Maybe we should back up a little, just in case you missed last year's Ask An Archivist Day or are not familiar with this popular Twitter event.

On Wednesday, October 5, four archivists with the Pennsylvania State Archives will participate in Ask An Archivist Day by taking to Twitter to answer your most pressing, or silly, questions regarding the state's archival collections.

Sponsored by the Society of American Archivists, Ask An Archivist offers the public the opportunity to connect directly to archivists in their community — and around the country — through asking questions, gathering information, or just satisfying curiosity.

Experts in protecting and sharing important historical materials, archivists assess, collect, organize, preserve and provide access to information that has lasting value.

Here are the folks who will be answering your questions :

Aaron McWilliams
-- Join archivist Aaron McWilliams from 11 a.m. to noon as he shares his knowledge of researching family histories and genealogy.   So far, nearly 14 million documents preserved by the Pennsylvania State Archives have been digitized by and are available free of charge to Commonwealth residents.  These documents include select years of birth and death records, World War II bonus applications and marriage records.  

Kurt Bell 
-- Following up Aaron McWilliams will be his fellow archivist, Kurt Bell.  A 20-year veteran of the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, Bell will spend 30 minutes answering questions about the railroad, oil, coal and iron industries. Bell will be available for his Q&A from noon to 12:30 p.m.

Rich Saylor

-- Next up will be Rich Saylor.  Last year, Saylor fielded questions on pretty much anything related to  Pennsylvania military history.  This year,  he's still willing to answer those same type of questions, however, his preferred area of Q&A will be focused on World War I history.  Did you know that the Pennsylvania State Archives, in cooperation with the State Library of Pennsylvania, has digitized a collection of World War I posters?  Join Rich from 12:30 to 1 p.m.

Josh Stahlman

--Rounding out the day will be archivist Josh Stahlman who will offer tips on preserving your family records.  Join Josh from 1 to 1:30 p.m.

How do I participate?  

#AskAnArchivist Day is open to everyone - all you need is a Twitter account. To participate, just tweet a question @PHMC and include the hashtag #AskAnArchivist in your tweet. Your question will be seen instantly by our archivists.

You can ask pretty much any question that comes to mind. Here are a few examples from the Society of American Archivists:
  • What’s the craziest thing you’ve come across in your collections?
  • If your archives had a soundtrack, what songs would be on it?
  • What do archivists talk about around the water cooler?
  • How do you decide what should be kept and what should not?


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