Monthly Archives: November 2012

Indian Springs 1949: What Old Photos Can Tell Us

Old family vacation photos may seem boring to some, but I find them to be interesting clues to a family’s location, leisure activities, and socio-economic status.  Many families, including my own, worked long, hard hours with little time to spare for lengthy, expensive trips far away from home.  While tracing one branch of my family’s movements in the first half of the 20th century, I began to take a closer look at the dates and locations on the backs of the pictures for clues.  Of course, several photos had nothing, but many had a stamp from the developer or a handwritten notation.

In my grandmother’s things was a series of photos taken at Indian Springs State Park in Flovilla, GA.  The series features grainy shots of my grandmother with her daughter, grandchildren, and a niece.  The pictures of the relatives are not that spectacular; their faces are barely recognizable.  If it weren’t for the comments on the back, it would be hard to tell who’s who.  What is interesting to me is that the July 1949 date corresponds with oral stories of the family being in the Atlanta area at the time.  A short trip with “the kids” to the cool spring waters of a nearby state park makes sense because it puts the family in that area in time, doing a low-budget but enjoyable activity.

Indian Springs, Georgia
July 1949

My favorite snapshot is the old mill, taken in July 1949:

I love the quirky messages on the backs of old photos.  Here is the back of the photo above, in what appears to be my grandmother’s handwriting:

“The old mill (The wheel wouldn’t be turning when we got our picture!)
Indian Spgs – 1949

Not only do I have another clue about the family’s location in 1949, I also hear my grandmother’s voice in the tongue-in-cheek comment about the water wheel not turning.  Sometimes it’s good to just enjoy the hunt for clues and the surprises that come along.  The genealogical proof standards and citation-writing can wait for another day.


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Georgia Archives to Remain Open…For Now

Imagine having no state archives open to the public for research.  What a sad day in the genealogy world!  That is what the people of Georgia were facing until recently….and may face again in 2013.  The office of Georgia’s governor, Nathan Kemp, announced last month that the Georgia State Archives in Morrow, GA will remain open for the remainder of the budgetary year that ends on June 30, 2013.  It will keep its current hours, which are already limited to just Fridays and Saturdays.  On July 1, the archives will be transferred to the University System of Georgia.  What then?  Will it be by appointment only?

Think of all the valuable materials to be relocated and the care which must be taken in this situation.  What if the documents that prove your ancestor ever existed on Georgia soil are not available to you because of budget cuts?  Hopefully, it will not be a worst-case scenario.  The press release from the governor’s office did indicate that the transfer provides for the appropriation of funds for operation and staffing; however, just the thought of losing access to the archives makes many genealogists and other researchers very nervous.  If it can happen in Georgia, it can happen elsewhere.

If you live in a place in which your state archives and other repositories are open several days a week with no plans to close anytime soon, consider yourself fortunate.


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Tennessee State Library and Archives

Tennessee State Libary and Archives in Nashville

Back in August of this year, I spent six productive hours in downtown Nashville at the Tennessee State Library and Archives, located at 403 7th Ave. N, between the state capitol and the judicial building.  I knew it was going to be a good day when a parking space right in front of the archives was open!  Parking is limited; I fully expected to have to find a public parking lot and walk, which I was willing to do, but being able to park in one of the few spaces available on weekdays was an added bonus.  The friendly and helpful staff was ready to answer all questions and to give assistance.  I was lucky enough to snag one of the newer microfilm readers that allows patrons to save documents to a flash drive; however, I came prepared with my roll of quarters for the copier, just in case.

I did my homework ahead of time by first going to their detailed website at  I was interested in Greene County records, and the website had a 27-page list of all the microfilms for that county.  Had I not seen this online, I could have used the list on display at the archives.  Also, the website has a great “Visitors’ Guide” section.

After a great meal at Noshville, and New York-style deli in Midtown located at 1918 Broadway, it was time to drive by the Parthenon in Centennial Park.  Nashville’s Parthenon is an excellent replica of the famous Parthenon in Athens, Greece.  On this beautiful summer afternoon, the park was busy but not crowded, as visitors rode bicycles or walked the paths and across the green spaces.  A few folks were sitting on the Parthenon’s steps as we drove by.

Nashville’s Parthenon

I look forward to another short trip to the state archives Nashville soon and will be happy to research your Tennessee ancestors for you.  Just send me an email from my “Contact Me” tab at the top of my blog.

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Posted by on Monday, November 12, 2012 in Places of Interest, Repositories, Tennessee history


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