In Their Own Words:
Documents of the Past

Do you know these people? Lying forgotten in dusty attics or much beloved amongst our most treasured possessions, are letters, diaries, memoirs, photographs, account books, recipes, personal notes and the other remembrances of our ancestors. This site presents works from a variety of authors in different situations -- soldiers in war, young ladies traveling abroad, struggling immigrants, and the children of wealthy planters. Wherever possible transcriptions have been made from the original documents with as much detail retained as technologically possible. This means strikeouts, inserts, alterations, misspellings, margin annotations, every aspect replicated as closely as HTML will allow, along with high rez scans.

My personal belief is that historic documents belong in public archives where they can be of the greatest benefit to researchers everywhere. Documents and photographs are difficult to maintain, to preserve for the future. It is tragic to think of how many irreplaceable artifacts have been lost to the negligence of well-meaning relatives -- papers stacked tightly folded so that the fibers break along the seams, photographs hanging in a sunny room, fading away, a beloved gown on display while silk rot eats away the fabric, or the saddest of all when a precious Daguerreotype (a picture on a silvered surface) is polished until the image is literally buffed into oblivion.

Once you have documented your artifact with photographs, scans, transcriptions, etc. the preservation of the original is best handled by the professionals. Unless your house is climate controlled and you are skilled at conservation for each type of artifact, it is time to find a permanent archival home. Not only will you be doing the public a great service, you will be ensuring that your family artifacts have the best chance of surviving.

Many thanks to the family and friends who have contributed to this site. Those who feel inclined to donate money to offset fees are encouraged to do so. You may make a donation through PayPal. It's fast, free and secure. Just click on the ever-grateful Donations Mouse image to the left.

Return to ITOW Home PageThroughout the site, clicking the diaries image will return you to this home page.

Primary Sources:
   Bible Pages
   Photo Albums


Hall of Heroes

Family Museum

Family Places

Who's Who
an index to brief biographies

Virtual Graveyard
   Final Moments
   How They Died


Behind Life's Curtain



Contributors List


The following books and technologies are available through the author. I am willing to do lookups, to scan images and transcribe documents you provide. My fees are assessed depending on the effort involved, as well as incidental costs such as packing and postage. I can handle minor conservation care, which may be necessary -- such as putting a fragmented document back together before scanning and transcription. Please contact me if you have questions or need additional information before making a decision about what to do next.

Family History
by Henry Seidel Canby
The Riverside Press, Cambridge, 1945

The Ancestry and Posterity of John Lea
by James Henry Lea & George Henry Lea
Lea Brothers & Co, Philadelphia and New York, 1906

The Phelps Family of America
by Oliver Seymour Phelps
Pittsfield, Mass, 1899
This book is on microfiche; minimum lookup fee $10.

William Walter Phelps, His Life and Public Services
Compiled by Hugh M. Herrick
The Knickerbocker Press, New York, 1904

In addition the volumes above I have a large collection of general and specific history books ranging from the 18th century through the 20th century, covering all manner of topics. I have both flatbed and wand scanners, a microfiche reader, and graphics programs, allowing me to scan all manner of images as well as to improve contrast for improved readability.

My technical skills include basic conservation of old paper and photographs, meaning that I will return anything you send to me in the same if not better condition, including minor repairs and storage using archival quality materials. With scanned graphical manipulation document's contrast can be improved for readability and a photograph can be returned to a digital approximation of the original image before the years of fading and cracking.

Let me help you take care of those precious pieces that are your family's foorprint in the past. Webmouse Cyberspace Publications -- please mark your email Historical Research Request

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Copyright 2011 Ellen Wilds, all rights reserved.