Experience says 'Don't Trash Your History!'

By: Mary K. Hamner
Journal Correspondent

Local history is a great avenue for learning. Digging through family stories/genealogy and church history is encouragement for extending knowledge as you travel back through the ages to learn about the local folk. Their stories speak of a different time, an age that causes us to laugh and sometimes cry. Most every household has its collection. Sometimes that collection gets tossed in the trash unless we take the steps necessary for preservation of this valuable material.

The records of the Ridge Church, established October 27, 1912, were found in an old trunk. Alvie Myers found the age-tattered pages after his grandmother Roma Cloud passed away. Myers, a local history buff, shared some of the records for copying before he lovingly stashed them away for safe keeping.

Old Ridge Church and Cemetery located east of Castor on Ridge Road, marks the spot where a band of worshippers got together and formed a church. Names of Charter Members are listed and the Church Rules of Decorum they adopted established an orderly procedure for the church to follow. One rule (article 9) states: If any member of this church shall indulge in disorderly conduct, it shall be the duty of the other members to avail themselves of an opportunity to talk with them about their error and strive to win them and if they refuse to hear them, then report it to the church, and if they refuse to hear the church, they shall have the authority to withdraw fellowship from them.

Church minutes affirm that the rules were followed. Some were dismissed " for being drunk" and others were dismissed " for a disorderly walk". One member was dismissed for "non-attendance". Others stayed and the old church endured for many years.

Peggy Ray, long time clerk of the New Providence Primitive Baptist Church near Ringgold, Louisiana is protective of church records in her care. She recently went for a session with Louisiana Tech Archivist Peggy Carter, to learn how to preserve the records dating back to 1850 and also make them available for researchers to use. The one-on-one session with Carter was invaluable in that both questions were answered. Carter demonstrated how to preserve the documents in suitable materials and also suggested a method of transcribing the information contained in the records onto computer disks.

Carter also furnished a list of resources for materials for protection and preservation of old records and they are as follows: Metal Edge, Inc., www.metaledgeinc.com , (acid free boxes, cotton gloves, etc.), Archival Quality Material, info@universityproducts.com

A workshop on preservation of records and how to write church history is projected for a date to be announced at Bossier Parish Library Historical Center. Pamela Carter Carlile, Local History and Public Outreach Specialist, also recommends online course-the Basics of Archives, from the American Association of State and Local History. Their website is www.aasih.org. Email Pamela Carter Carlile at pcarter@state.lib.la.us.

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