Cape Girardeau County Archives to scan family bibles

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Are you the keeper of an old family Bible?

The John Guild Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution and the Cape Girardeau County Archives are teaming up to help preserve local history by digitizing old family Bible records. Bibles published prior to 1910 are being sought for the project.

"Old Bibles are a valuable resource for genealogists and historians. They can serve as primary source documentation, providing dates of birth, death and marriage for periods when public vital records were not kept" according to Steve Pledger, Director of the Cape Girardeau County Archives.

Morgan Lake, registrar of the John Guild Chapter DAR, agrees. "Prior to the 1850 census, it can be very difficult to make connections between parents and children. I am excited about the project because it may not only help aid prospective DAR members, but may uncover information that has been lost over time."

According to Drew Blattner, archivist for Cape Girardeau County, many Bibles remain undiscovered. "We have heard rumors that various family Bibles exist that may contain important genealogical information unknown to anyone alive today. Many of the early probate files list a Bible that was sold at the estate sale. We know that there are bound to be hundreds if not thousands of these old Bibles laying around on someone's bookshelf or in an old trunk somewhere in the county. It is our goal to scan or photograph the family record section of as many of these as we can to fill in gaps in our own records.

By digitizing the records, the information can be made accessible to distant relatives and researchers while preserving the original artifact. Many of the old pages are fragile, and need to be handled as little as possible. Archivists can provide attendees with tips on preserving their family heirloom Bibles. Only the pages of the Bible with family information will be scanned or photographed, along with the title page of the Bible identifying the date of publication. The information gleaned will be transcribed and indexed by surname and made available for researchers at the archives and the DAR Library.

Volunteers will be available October 29, 2011 from 9-12 at the Archive Center to assist with the project. Please call 204-2331 for more information.

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