This week (actually, Monday, October 21) is Fall Break. For my colleagues who are teaching this semester, midterm grades are due, and, when I was at the Pennsylvania Historical Association annual meeting this past weekend, the main topic of conversation was how many papers everyone had to grade (no, I didn’t feel guilty that I didn’t have any to grade, and yes, I did mention I was on sabbatical this semester). It’s also the week that I must present a progress report—just like my sister the 2nd grade teacher and sister-in-law 1st grade teacher must do, except in my case it’s a progress report on what I have accomplished to date on my sabbatical. On Thursday, October 24, from 12-1, I will be making a presentation as part of Mansfield University’s Faculty Work-in-Progress Speaker Series: “Getting My Hands Dirty Doing Primary Source Research: Adventures in Organizing Church Records.” It definitely will be a work in progress, as I certainly haven’t finished organizing the records…or doing the primary source research. If you’re in the area, drop by Alumni 317 to see photos (I will be using PowerPoint in my presentation) and be entertained by what I have found. I promise not to pass around a collection plate for donations.
Because of the conference, I didn’t spend as much time playing with the records as I usually do. However, I have finally unpacked the last of the tubs (well, I had unpacked it previously, then repacked it…so now it’s unpacked again). This is the one with the really old stuff: photos of the first church (and its interior), church records in German (and English), membership books from the 1920s, etc. It’s the tub that has the materials that I used when writing the paper on the origins of Zion’s German Reformed Congregation that I presented at last year’s Pennsylvania Historical Association annual meeting. And it’s the tub where I do have to wear gloves when handling the bound volumes because of their fragile condition, especially the one with the baptisms, deaths, confirmation records, etc.
The original “bound” volume of the church register (Births, Marriages, Confirmations, Deaths, etc.)
Overall, I am beginning to enter the “home stretch” of the records processing; the next step will be taking all the file folders and stacking them into piles for the different categories, then boxing them. While I’m at it, I plan to note which materials will be useful for writing the congregation’s history and which ones can be deposited in Lancaster sooner rather than later.