Join us for the #AskAnArchivist Twitter event on Oct. 1

For Trails of History programs this weekend and early next week, check out the September program listings. If you're planning ahead, the October listings are now available.

Pennsylvania's Archives Month begins Thursday, October 1 with  #AskAnArchivist Twitter Event
Filling out the branches of a family tree isn't easy. Hours of your time are spent sifting through decades of birth and death records.  Sidetracks are common, especially if you discover that one of your relatives wasn't entirely truthful about their own history.

But, it's worth it...any archivist will tell you that.

On Thursday, October 1, four archivists with the Pennsylvania State Archives will participate in Ask An Archivist Day by taking to Twitter to answer anything and everything archives.  Later in the day, State Archivist David Carmicheal will do his part by fielding your most pressing inquiries.

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 — to ask questions, get information, or just satisfy curiosity.

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

This year, Ask An Archivist Day, the kickoff to Pennsylvania's Archives Month, will focus on five areas of research.  Here's the schedule: 

10 a.m. to noon 

Aaron McWilliams
Rich Saylor
Archivist Aaron McWilliams will take a break from his busy schedule to answer your questions on genealogy. Thanks to a continued collaboration between the Pennsylvania State Archives and Ancestry all of the publicly available death records from the Archives from 1906 until 1963 are now available online. In addition, Pennsylvania birth records from 1906 to 1908 are also available via

In the second half of the first session,archivist Rich Saylor will take your questions on military history. Saylor is the author of the national-award winning book Soldiers to Governors: Pennsylvania's Civil War Veterans Who Became State Leaders.

1 p.m. to 3 p.m. 

Kurt Bell 
Josh Stahlman
Archivist Kurt Bell will lead off the second session of Ask An Archivist by answering your questions on Railroad Research. Don't hold back. Kurt is an expert when it comes to railroad history in the Commonwealth.

Next, Josh Stahlman, an archivist at the Pennsylvania State Archives since 2008, is ready to offer tips when it comes to Caring for Family Records

3 p.m. to 4 p.m. 

State Archivist David Carmicheal will spend the last hour of Ask An Archivist answering questions regarding his role with the Commonwealth. Before coming to the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Carmicheal directed the Georgia Division of Archives and History. During his tenure, he oversaw the design and construction of the award-winning Georgia Archives building, introduced the Virtual Vault to provide online access to more than 1.5 million archival documents and helped lead national efforts in emergency management, particularly for the protection of essential government records.
David Carmicheal

How to 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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