Sunday, February 10, 2008

Carlisle Family Papers: University of Michigan

Back in November I asked what would happen to all of my genealogy work and family treasures down the road. Shortly after that Janice suggested that we start donating things now. It turns out that in 1972 my family did just that.

I'm not certain of the details but my grandmother required nursing care and moved out of the family home sometime in the 1960's. I remember visiting her in the nursing home in 1968 or 1969. Care of the house fell to my uncle and eventually it was torn down. Papers relating to my family's history were boxed up and donated to the University of Michigan. They now reside in the Bentley Historical Library, Ann Arbor, MI. They are safe there and have benefited many people researching women in the Civil War, but they have been frustratingly unavailable to me.

I first discovered that these papers existed several years ago while doing an online search for Hannah Carlisle. Imagine my excitement when I found this:
The papers of the Daniel Carlisle family of Buchanan, Mich. include thirty-two family letters (Aug. 17, 1862-Apr. 7, 1866) relating to Mrs. Hannah L. Carlisle, who served as a nurse during the Civil War. Seventeen of the letters were written by Mrs. Carlisle. They are chiefly from the Post Hospital at Columbus, Ky., where she was matron. She expresses her dislike of Copperheads and Secessionists. She tells of troop movements on the river, raids of guerrilla bands, the destruction of Secessionists' homes, hospital life, food and a Thanksgiving dinner, the celebration at the fall of Vicksburg, and the capture of Jefferson Davis. She often comments on the weather and the plague of mosquitoes. Later Mrs. Carlisle was in charge of a Columbus, Ky., school for the American Freedmen's Aid Commission, and she tells of the clashes between military and civil law officers, the plight of the Negroes, and the rough treatment accorded them.

I knew about the papers several ears ago when I took Mom on a trip to Michigan to visit my aunt and uncle. They shared family photos and what history they knew. We visited the cemeteries and toured the area. From a research standpoint it was a very fruitful trip even though Mom wasn't up to a detour to Ann Arbor. I did call the library to see what it would cost to have the collection copied and mailed to me. I think it took me a week to recover from the shock!

The time has finally come and I will traveling to Ann Arbor in April. I have been looking at the library's catalog and found this:
The Carlisle family collection consists of two feet of material dating from 1860 to 1972. The papers relate to various members of the Daniel Carlisle family of Buchanan, Michigan. The collection contains correspondence between Hannah L. Carlisle and her husband, Daniel Carlisle. Include as well are letters and eight of Hannah Carlisle's diaries, written between 1885 and 1900 and largely concerning her life in Dead wood, South Dakota.

Other family members represented in the collection are William and Phyllis Carlisle and Vivian Carlisle. The letters of William D. Carlisle concern his service in the US Navy during World War II. The letters of Phyllis Carlisle relate both to her student life at the University of Michigan during the early 1940s and to her service in the Waves during the war. The letters of Vivian Carlisle were written while a student at the University of Michigan and Michigan State University during the 1940s.

Other items of interest is a folder of genealogical material and a letter written by Francis A. Carlisle while serving in Cuba during the Spanish-American War, describing his experiences.

I'm not sure how Mom will feel about the fact that the library has letters that she wrote but I am very excited that I will get to see them. I can't wait to see what is in the "folder of genealogical material" I know that Isaac Ashley Carlisle was a Spanish-American War veteran but this is the first I've found that indicates that his son Francis served too.

Here's where I need help.

The only library I have ever been to is the Onondaga County Public Library in Syracuse. I have no idea what to expect from a large research library. The family papers take up 1.5 - 2 linear feet of shelf space. Mom thinks there may be some old pamphlets that were donated as part of the collection but even so the size sounds overwhelming. The main focus of the trip is to view and copy as much of this collection as I can but I would also like to have time to visit my aunt and uncle and make a few stops in Berrien and Cass Counties too.

I only have a week and I need two full travel days. How many days should I plan to spend in Ann Arbor? Will it takes days to make copies or will I be done quickly? I think the letters will be quick but eight diaries! There is no indication how large the folder of genealogical material is.

What questions should I ask the library ahead of time?

What do I need to take besides a notebook, my computer and a flash drive?

Any other thoughts or tips would be much appreciated!


Thomas MacEntee said...

Hey Apple

Please take a camera - digital or even cell phone - with you. Like Jasia said it can come in handy when you need to capture something.

I would bring a flash drive too - that way you don't need to fool with multiple memory cards for the camera.

Good luck! I wish I could be there when you review all those treasures!!!

Jessica's thoughts said...

Hi Apple,

I would probably plan to spend one or two days there. I don't know if you are planning to go alone or with other people, but it might help to have an extra help you with looking up the records. Also, I would probably ask the Bently Center if they allow any of their material to be copied by xerox machine, and how much the cost is per copy.

Good luck!


Janet Iles said...

What a resource you have to look at!

You may know some of this but here are some thoughts. I have not used a university library but I have used archives and this is archival material.

Find out from the University library, their policies on copying. Can everything be copied? Do they permit the use of a digital camera? If yes, is it only without the flash on? If you are copying a lot, a tripod to hold the camera may be helpful.

If you haven't done copying of documents with a digital camera, practice ahead of time. I am still learning with my digital camera and I get mixed results.

If the library does not permit digital cameras, what are the photocopying charges? Who does the copying?

Are there restrictions on what you can take into the room with you? Do they provide lockers if there are restrictions? Do they have any special rules, such as wearing gloves and pencil only?

Take a notebook or a laptop computer to take notes to record citations and brief notes and number your pictures so you can match up everything when you get home.

I don't know how long to suggest but it sounds like there is quite a bit to go through. Remember to take breaks as it is exciting looking at everything but it is also tiring.

Let us know after your trip what you find.


Anonymous said...

I think you should plan on at least 2 days at the library-better to plan for more days and not need them than think you can get it all done in 1 and find out you can't. Definitely call the library ahead of time and ask about their policy on copying materials, and if you can use a digital camera. Some libraries will allow it, some don't. I would also indicate that you are a relative - it might gain you additional access if they understand that it's for personal research. Good luck - can't wait to hear what happens. I had a short trip to Ann Arbor for a Gene Kelly-related charity event - his daughter lives there. It's a cute little town with a university atmosphere. Have fun! Donna

Becky Wiseman said...

What a treasure you have re-discovered!

First, check the library's website - they have some information on visiting and put forth some of their rules.

Second, contact the library archivist and make sure you tell them you are a relative and how you are related, i.e. your mother wrote some of the letters, etc. I do think they might make some allowances to give you added access or extra help.

Their site said that computers were allowed but didn't say anything about scanners or cameras. Check to see what is allowed. A camera would be easier, quicker and less "destructive" than a scanner.

Some archives don't allow the visitor to make copies! I've been to at least one historical library where you had to request the copies and if they didn't have time to get them made the day you were there they would mail them later.

If a camera can't be used, even though you think the cost might be prohibitive, it may be better in the long run to request copies to be mailed to you later. If patrons are allowed to make copies, and if someone goes with you, they could be doing the copying while you are looking through the collection. Or a combination of both ways - copy what you really, really want immediately and request copies be sent for the other items later.

I'm so excited for you! It's an amazing feeling, overwhelming actually, to think of all that you may find. I'd schedule at least two days there, but it depends upon what you find out prior to your visit.

Charley "Apple" Grabowski said...

Thanks everyone! I did see the library's rules that they list on their website so I don't know if I'll be able to use my camera. I'll practice on some documents here just in case I can use it. I'm hoping that the coping costs don't kill me but if they do all the copying that could be a plus as I'll be by myself. I will be contacting them in a week or two.


Tens days is never enough. In a
University Library archive I was in, they had helpers to help you find the materials requested, some helpers know alot and some helpers are just there to fulfill their grade at school. So my wish for you is to get an experienced person helping you. I would e-mail them ahead, let them know about your situation, maybe there's another history buff on staff that would love to help you. So it wasn't as easy as I expected. I didn't have the opportunity to have a major hands on experience,
(ie: Here's the box of stuff, dig
through it) so much of the material
is not in the same place and you have to retrieve it from its resting/shelf place.
I had notes (lots) names and dates in a notebook, so I wouldn't have memory problems, about what I wanted to know. I grouped the notes with my most important
"want to knows" first.
If this is a major archive, you
definitely, will be using pencils
only, have a locker for coat + purse, sign in at desk - they also
may ask for your Drivers Licence or
ID card and may photocopy it.
E-mail ahead about cameras, cell
phones,copies and if they make
copies make sure to bring cash.
I hope this helps, it will be a
trip you will never forget.

Harold Henderson said...

All good advice, especially the part about allowing yourself as much time as possible. I would add, make sure you know as much as you can ahead of time so you're better able to spot the good stuff. And every research library I've been in is picky about different things, so it can take a while to get accustomed to the rhythm (e.g. some places you have to wait while stuff is brought to you) and plan accordingly. As suggested above, some of the most radical differences are in the arrangements for copying. Enjoy!


Terry Thornton said...

Apple, Becky's comment is most important. MAKE SURE THEY KNOW IN ADVANCE THAT YOU ARE A RELATIVE COMING TO COPY YOUR FAMILY'S [INCLUDING YOUR MOTHER] RECORDS. Most university library directors will bend over backwards to help. All of the suggestions about using a digital camera, if permitted, is excellent.

I am so glad that you are getting to this treasure trove of family materials. Keep us posted please.

Jasia said...

The Bentley is quite literally just down the street from me. OK, it's 21 miles just down the street but that's no big deal. Once I pull out of my sub I make one right turn and two lefts and I'm there.

I've only been to the Bentley one time and it was over a year ago. I can tell you this, they are very restrictive about what you can and can't bring into the library. You can bring a laptop computer, a notebook, and a pencil but that's about it. I don't remember if cameras were permitted or not. But you can't take a bookbag or a purse... not even a coin purse. I wanted to make copies and they made me take my coins out of my coin purse and leave the coin purse in my car!

The staff is largely students from the U of M. They pretty much do their homework unless you approach them for help. Then they are very helpful but otherwise don't expect much assistance.

It's a pleasant enough place and there's parking right next door... something that's usually hard to come by on a college campus.

If you want some help or if you want to get together for dinner just let me know and I'm there!


Dear Apple, I've decided to tag
you for, "Six Unimportant Things
About Me" meme at my Jewelgirl-
jewelry blog. The rules for the
meme are at my blog. I hope you
check it out. You don't have to
do it if you don't want to! :)

Charley "Apple" Grabowski said...

JewelGirl - I hope my experience is better than yours was! I have been making some notes about what I want to look at outside this specific collection in case I have time. I'll work on the meme in a day or two.

Harold - Thanks for stopping by. I've been to several County Clerks offices so I have some idea about the various rhythms. Hopefully I won't let my impatient side show.

Terry - I'll most definitely be telling them I'm a family member. I may even see if they are interested in copies of anything I have to add to the collection.

Jasia - Since I plan to do a lot of copying it sounds like I'll jingle as I walk with pockets full of coins. LOL Knowing what the parking is like here at SU I picked a hotel with shuttle service but it sounds like I'll be better off parking there and using my trunk as a locker. It would be wonderful to be able to meet over dinner if you're free one of the nights I am there! I'll email you once my plans are set.

Lori Thornton said...

There once was a girl named Apple
Who with an issue did grapple
She asked all these fools
About archival rules
For she wanted to set an example.

Lisa / Smallest Leaf said...

Everyone seems to have covered all the bases of archival research. I would love to come help be your copying assistant! It will be fascinating to see what you find.

Have fun. Looking forward to reading your newfound stories at Apple's Tree...

Lee said...

All great advice! I would only add to request a copy of the "finding aid" before your trip. And if they can't send a copy to you, ask to see it as soon as you arrive. It will really help you zero in on those parts of the collection that will be most important to you and your research.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I find this very interesting. Wish you had more facts. My Grandmother was Bertha Carlisle from Michigan and I am trying to find family information for my Mom. I have a feeling that we may be related the the Carlisle's on this site.
Any information would be appreciated.

Charley "Apple" Grabowski said...

I now have the letters and have started transcribing them. I do have a lot of other information on the Carlisle family from the letters and other sources. I don't have a Bertha in my file. Can you give me a little more information about her? Was Carlisle her maiden name or married name and about when was she born? Where in Michigan did she live? Even if she is not related to my branch I can probably find some information to get you statrted.

You can reply here or by email to Apple194 at gmail dot com.