Saturday, September 28, 2013

Harrell Preparing to Donate Family Files to a Repository

Antoinette Harrell preparing files for repository
Photo credit: Walter C. Black, Sr.

Genealogists and family historians spend a lot of time collecting photographs, family papers, letters, audible and videos recordings for our family history collections. I spent two decades collecting and it seems like I am going to spend at least ten years preparing the collections for repositories. I made my first repository to the Amistad Research Center in New Orleans, La., years ago. Last year I made a repository to the Southeastern Louisiana University " Center For Southeast Louisiana Studies" that collection is named the "Antoinette Harrell Tangipahoa and St. Helena African American History Collection." The collection at the Amistad Research Center in New Orleans is named "Harrell-Miller, Antoinette Family Papers." I am scheduled to meet with an archivist at the Louisiana State Library this coming Thursday to discuss donating files to the library.

For the past two weeks once again I've been preparing files to be archived. I've been through boxes of photographs, letters, personal and professional letters, funeral programs, brochures, flyers, and videos. I promised myself I will never again collect this much material. Between an early morning cup of coffee and back to work again until late evening with a glass of wine or a cup of hot peppermint tea with a twist of lemon to relax me and help me to get through the rest of the day's work.
Antoinette in the middle of her picture collection

Reassuring myself that the end will come and  this is the legacy that I want to leave my children, grandchildren and those yet unborn. Sitting in the middle of the floor looking at old pictures and reflecting on the moments, events and people in the pictures. Some of people who were a part of our lives or loved ones have long or recently passed away. Leaving only memories behind of their life and presence that they shared with us.

I am assuring this history and genealogical heritage collection will be a part of our community's collective memory for time to come. Some of my friends who were genealogist passed away and I often wonder what happened to their collection?  Just recently my friend Kojo Livingston, a contributing writer for the Louisiana Weekly and Shreveport Sun Newspapers passed away. I know he had years of articles he wrote for the two newspapers in his collection. I hope that some of his writing will be archived by the family.

After a hard week of going to through boxes, photo albums, newspapers, brochures, funeral programs, etc., I am saying, "calgon take me away" so that I can relax.  We can learn from other people who have prepared and preserve their collections and other who passed way and left the collections to children, grandchildren and other family members who may not know what to do with it.

I didn't want to leave this burden on my children. Besides the collection may not mean to them what it means to me. I know that one day they will look back and appreciate what I left for them. Their grandchildren can visit the archives and universities to see the collection that their great grandmother left for them.

If your family history has genealogical connections Tangipahoa and St. Helena Parishes, Louisiana and you would like to talk with me about your family history collection please contact me at: 504.858.4658 or email me at

Please click on the links below for more information about the collections.   _k/harrell_collection.html