Monday's Must-Reads & Update: August 8, 2016

A quick update: This week’s short and sweet “Monday’s Must-Reads” will be the last on this blog. Although I still plan on sharing interesting articles and useful resources, I hope to focus more on original content going forward. Please let me know if you have any feedback!


  • This summer, the Archives Association of BC reviewed and updated their “AABC Archivist’s Toolkit,” a collection of online resources and publications on archival principles and their practical applications. The Toolkit includes resources for establishing and managing an archives, archival funding and outreach, and managing, preserving, and ensuring access to archival materials (including electronic and born-digital records). [via Arcan-l]

  • Announcement: Archives of Ontario releases Vital Statistics records through In June, the Archives of Ontario announced “a partnership with provide online access to Ontario's Vital Statistics records.” As vital records are transferred yearly to the Archives, they will be digitized and indexed by Marriages from 1933 and 1934, and deaths from 1943 are already online. Although free access will be provided for in the Archives’ Reading Room and in Ontario public libraries, digitized records will only be accessible through subscription to for those of us located outside of Ontario. Previously microfilmed records are available through Inter Library Loan. The announcement also noted that 1869-1911 births, 1869-1927 marriages and 1869-1937 deaths are still available on If you are interested in researching your Ontario family history, check out the Archives of Ontario’s page on “Tracing Your Family History.” 


  • Genealogy Research Process Map by Mark Tucker on ThinkGenealogy, 10 July 2008. This past week, Brenda Dougall Merriman’s Genealogical Standards of Evidence led me to this awesome genealogy resource. Mark Tucker’s diagram of the genealogical research process compiles and visualizes concepts from Elizabeth Shown Mills’ Evidence Explained and the BCG’s Genealogical Proof Standard. Click here for the pdf. 

Stay tuned for more blog posts with original content. If you have any suggestions for future blog posts, I'd be happy to hear them! 

Monday's Must-Reads: August 1, 2016

After a bit of a blog hiatus, I’m back this week with a round-up of the interesting archives, genealogy, history and heritage-related resources, articles, blog posts, events, and news items that I’ve come across over the past week. Enjoy!


  • Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC): As part of their mission to support the preservation efforts of cultural heritage institutions and family/private collections and archives, the NEDCC has a number of free resources available online. Check out the Preservation 101 online textbook for information on paper, photograph and audiovisual record preservation and digitization. Genealogists and family archivists may be interested in their tips on Caring for Family and Private Collections.

  • Evaluating cloud services – check this! by Corinne Rogers on the InterPARES Trust blog, 29 July 2016 (via@NicoleSatchell). Corinne gives a quick introduction to the work of InterPARES and links to two useful checklists for organizations and individuals considering using cloud services.


  • The Genealogical Society: Revise or Demise? by Donna Cox Baker on The Golden Egg Genealogist, 7 July 2016. This post recently caused some (heated) discussion on the Ontario Genealogical Society Facebook group around the value of genealogical societies and why they are experiencing declining membership (ie. are unable to attract new/younger members). Baker offers some reasons for the decline and a few solutions, such as livestreaming and online/home volunteering. The issues outlined by Baker are also relevant for the genealogical society of my own province, the British Columbia Genealogical Society. Although I am a member, I have only attended a couple meetings due to timing and location – the local meet-up is during the day on a weekday, making it impossible for students or people with 9-5 jobs to attend, and the monthly meeting is in a different city. Acknowledging the changing face of genealogy and implementing some of Baker’s suggestions could help genealogical societies appeal to, and retain, a broader, more diverse membership.

Local History

Demolished Character Houses in Vancouver interactive map by Vancouver Vanishes. Click on image to access map.

Demolished Character Houses in Vancouver interactive map by Vancouver Vanishes. Click on image to access map.


Online Exhibits

  • Archives of Ontario: As part of the lead-up to the 150th Anniversary of Confederation in Canada, the Archives of Ontario has developed an online exhibit about George Brown, a Father of Confederation and founder of The Globe newspaper, and his family. The exhibit, “Meet the Browns: A Confederation Family,” is available here.


  • The most recent issue of THEMA, the journal of Musees de la civilisation in Quebec City, is now available online. The journal features articles by authors of various disciplines that explore issues related to museums, societies and cultures. Articles are available in both French and English. Access the full journal here.

Upcoming Events


  • August 3, Fernie, BC: The Fernie Museum will be hosting Oral History 101, a 1-day workshop that will cover oral history research, community relations, ethics and standards, audiovisual equipment, and other relevant topics. The workshop is the first in their Archives 101 series, dedicated to teaching “basic standards of archives and research practices for small museums and archives.” The workshop will be held from 9:30-4pm. Click here to learn more and register.

  • September 26-30, Halifax, Nova Scotia: The Dalhousie Libraries is organizing a 5-day Digital Preservation Management Workshop to be held at the Nova Scotia Archives. Click here to learn more about the workshop. Pre-register by Friday, August 5th here.

  • October 12-14, Whistler, BC: The 2016 BC Museums Association Conference, Begin. Build. Re-invent: all in a day’s work!, will feature workshops and presentations on issues related to museums, cultural heritage, and communities. Click here to view the schedule and here to register.


  • September 26-28, Denver, Colorado: The Northeast Document Conservation Center is hosting Digital Directions: Fundamentals of Creating and Managing Digital Collections, a 2 ½ day conference on the development and implementation of a digitization program and the ongoing management and preservation of digital records, born-digital and digitized. Learn more about the conference and register here.

For more weekly round ups, check out David Rajotte’s blog, Documentary Heritage News, Gail Dever’s Crème de la Crème on Genealogy a la Carte, and Linda Stufflebean’s Recommended Reads on Empty Branches on the Family Tree.

Monday's Must-Reads: August 24, 2015

This post is my weekly round-up of archives, genealogy, history and heritage-related articles, blog posts, events and news items that I’ve read over the past week. Hope you find them interesting and informative!


  • An information goldmine: The World Bank Group Archives goes online by Elisa Liberatori Prati on the World Bank's blog, Voices: Perspectives on Development, August 18, 2015 . Great news for researchers! Archival descriptions and digital images of selected declassified materials from the World Bank Group Archives are now available online through the Archives Holdings website.

  • On August 12, 2015, the International Council on Archives (ICA) released a statement on Access to Memory (AtoM) archival description software and the organization's relationship with Artefactual Systems, the developer. If, like me, you found the existence of two different versions of AtoM ("ICA-Atom" and "AtoM") and the relationship between ICA and Artefactual a little confusing, this post in the ICA-Atom user forum explains the situation and also mentions the possibility of re-establishing the partnership between ICA and Artefactual. 


Upcoming Events


  • October 21&22: The US National Archives and Records Administration will be broadcasting their 2015 Virtual Genealogy Fair live via YouTube! If you missed the 2014 fair, you can view the recordings here.


  • August 30, Abbotsford, BC: The MSA Museum Society will be hosting a "Pioneer Tea" at the Trethewey House Heritage site to honour long-time residents of Abbotsford.  If your family settled in Abbotsford prior to 1950, learn more here

  • September 11, Toronto, ON: Sarah Romkey, Systems Archivist for Artefactual Systems, will be giving a talk entitled "Digital Preservation and Access with AtoM and Archivematica," hosted by The Toronto Area Archivists Group and University of Toronto Archives Group. Click here for more info.  

  • September 18, Calgary, AB: Back by popular demand, the Archives Society of Alberta will be offering a workshop on "Managing Electronic Records." The registration deadline is September 10th. Learn more here

  • September 24, Victoria, BC: Join the Victoria Genealogical Society for the 2015 VGS Genealogy Seminar: "Creating Connections through DNA: Genetic Genealogy in the Digital Age." Learn more about the event and register here

  • October 15, Kelowna, BC: The AABC will be giving a one-day workshop on "Describing Archives Using RAD." Learn more and register here


  • November 5-8, Pasadena, CA: The Daguerrian Society will be holding its 27th annual symposium and 19th-century photo fair at the Hilton. The event will feature exhibitions, speakers, walking tours, a gala reception, and a dinner banquet. Learn about 19th-century photography and engage with curators, collectors and dealers. Non-member registration is $275. Learn more here.

This week my post on finding original records in archives was featured in three other round ups! Check out "This week's crème de la crème" by Gail Dever on Genealogy a la Carte, "Recommended Reads" by Linda Stufflebean on Empty Branches on the Family Tree, and "Best Bytes for the Week of 21 August 2015" by Elizabeth O'Neal on Little Bytes of Life.

Personal Archives, Facebook Profiles and the Afterlife Online

Engagement with social network sites like Facebook has become part of the daily activities of over a billion of people worldwide. In 2015, Facebook reported over 1.44 billion active users per month.[1] The increase of active users has brought with it an unanticipated challenge for users and developers of social network sites: an increase in deceased social network users remaining in the same online spaces as the living following biological death.

You may be wondering why this would matter to an archivist. Facebook and other social network sites function as “repositories for visual culture and social memory” and act as personal archives for individual users.[2] Although archivists may appear primarily concerned with the past, preserving records for the future and ensuring ongoing access to those records are the main goals of archival activities.

What is a social network site?

A social network site (SNS) is a web-based service that allows users to “make visible and articulate their social networks” and maintain connections with their “extended social network."[3] SNSs are designed around a user profile, a page that encompasses the user’s online identity on that platform. The profile is created both by the user themselves and through their relationships. Users who are a part of other users’ networks are included in the list of “Friends” or “Followers” who are allowed to access and engage with the profiles of other users within the system. On Facebook, 'friends' are permitted to post content in the form of text, links, digital images and videos to each other’s ‘Walls,’ the central commenting space on user profiles. Access and engagement is dependent on the user’s privacy settings.

How is Facebook a personal archives?

In 2011, Facebook introduced the Timeline, a new way of organizing Wall posts chronologically according to ‘life events.'[4] The new features allow users to add content within the stream of posts, instead of being limited to posting only the top of the page. The ability to suppress or delete old posts, add new content to the past, and shape the way other users access and view the profile page, led to users treating Facebook as a personal archives in addition to a mode of online communication. The definition of archives, as a material, is “the whole of the records made and received by a juridical person or organization in the conduct of affairs, and preserved."[5] As a place, an archives is the repository for records selected for permanent preservation.[6] Facebook is a personal archives according to of the definitions above, both as a group of digital records that are part of the ‘whole’ and as a digital repository.

The conception of Facebook and other SNSs as personal archives has resulted in the expansion of the definition of ‘personal archives’ to include “the collections of potentially any individual with an archival impulse to document his or her life."[7] In a recent letter asking Facebook to allow users to download the contents of Facebook pages, the Society of American Archivists (SAA) commended Facebook for allowing users to download an “archive” of their personal profiles in a zip file. From the SAA: 

This data is of great use to archivists because it allows donors to easily collect their Facebook activity when they are donating their materials to an archive. The data presents a unique snapshot of the individual’s activities on Facebook. Visitors using the donated materials in an archive can view this content in the context of other materials. Most importantly it is authoritative because it comes directly from Facebook and the donors themselves.[8]

Facebook, death and the afterlife online

Although SNSs are primarily the domain of the living, an exception to this is in the event of the death of a Facebook user. When a Facebook user passes away, other users within the deceased’s network appropriate their Facebook profile for memorialization and commemoration. [9] Commemoration of the dead online is not a new concept; in the 1990s, virtual cemeteries began to emerge as informal online spaces for mourners to grieve and commemorate the dead.[10] In a clear parallel to physical cemeteries, the dead are removed from the spaces of the living and sequestered in an “accessible but separate” online space.[11] With Web 2.0 and the rise of social network sites, mourners can engage directly with the social media presences of the deceased.[12] On Facebook the dead remain in the same online spaces as when they were alive, permitting social relationships to continue after death. Facebook friends of the deceased can continue to connect to the deceased’s “real self that has been fully captured by digital recording."[13]

Facebook Help Center: What will happen to my account if I pass away? Click on image to visit page. 

Facebook Help Center: What will happen to my account if I pass away? Click on image to visit page. 

Although the persistence of the dead on SNSs can be comforting for loved ones, others report that they are haunted by the digital presence of the dead.[14] Prior to the implementation of procedures for dealing with profile pages of the dead on Facebook, friends could receive invitations to “catch up” with the deceased, as if they were still alive![15] The introduction of ‘memorialized profiles’ in 2009 helped to mitigate online encounters with the dead. After the passing of a Facebook user, a family member or friend can submit a “Memorialization Request,” which allows users to continue to interact with the profile while ensuring that it does not appear in birthday reminders and other inappropriate contexts.[16] 

Access to memorialized profiles on Facebook is an ongoing issue. Initially, the memorialization of a profile automatically restricted the visibility of the profile to ‘friends-only.’[17] In 2014, Facebook addressed this issue and announced that the privacy settings that the deceased had in life would continue in death.[18] Another issue is the inability to login to an account following memorialization.[19] Although login continues to be an issue, earlier this year Facebook made overtures towards providing for the management of memorialized profiles through the appointment of a ‘legacy contact.’ A legacy contact is a Facebook user appointed by the deceased with the ability to add featured posts to the top of the Timeline (such as a link to an obituary), respond to new friend requests, and update the profile picture and cover photo in the event of the memorialization of the deceased’s Facebook profile.[20] Unless specified in a valid will, a legacy contact cannot access the deceased’s Facebook messages.  

So, what can you do?

Screenshot from Facebook's blog post on "Adding a Legacy Contact." Click image to visit page.

Screenshot from Facebook's blog post on "Adding a Legacy Contact." Click image to visit page.

Currently, a legacy contact cannot be appointed after the death of a user. Ensure that your privacy settings are up to date and appoint a legacy contact to take on the stewardship of your profile in the event of your death.

In addition to managing a memorialized account on behalf of the deceased, a legacy contact can download an “archive of information” that includes photos and videos uploaded by the deceased, wall posts, profile and contact info, events, and friends lists.[21]  As outlined in the SAA letter, this downloadable data is incredibly valuable and ensures that this important part of the ‘whole’ of your records will have the chance to be included in your family's private archives or donated to a public archives for long-term preservation. If we don't capture our personal digital archives now or plan for their capture and management, they won't be available for future researchers. Click here to learn how to add a legacy contact!

For a list of online services related to this topic, see The Digital Beyond's Digital Death and Afterlife Online Services List.

Works Cited

[1] Irfan Ahmad, “Fascinating #SocialMedia Stats 2015: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+,” Digital Information World (blog), January 2, 2015, accessed August 3, 2015,

[2] Jessica Bushey, “Convergence, connectivity, ephemeral and performed: new characteristics of digital photographs,” Archives and Manuscripts 42, 1 (2014): 34.

[3] Danah M. Boyd and Nichole B. Ellison, “Social Network Sites: Definition, History and Scholarship,” Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 13 (2008): 211.

[4] Molly McHugh, “Everything You Want to Know About the Facebook Timeline,” Digital Trends (blog), December 29, 2011, accessed August 2, 2015,

[5] The InterPares 2 Project Glossary, s.v. “archives,” current July 11, 2015, accessed August 2, 2015,

[6] Ibid.

[7] Amelia Acker and Jed R. Brubaker, “Death, Memorialization, and Social Media: A Platform Perspective for Personal Archives,” Archivaria 77 (Spring 2014): 3.

[8] Society of American Archivists, "SAA Calls on Facebook to Enable Content Downloading for Pages," August 5, 2015,

[9] Martin Gibbs, James Meese, Michael Arnold, Bjorn Nansen, and Marcus Carter, “#Funeral and Instagram: death, social media and platform vernacular,” Information, Communication & Society 18, 3 (2015): 256.

[10-12] Ibid. 

[13] Grant David Bollmer, “Millions Now Living Will Never Die: Cultural Anxieties About the Afterlife of Information,” The Information Society 29 (2013): 145

[14-15] Ibid. 

[16] Facebook Help Center, “What will happen to my account if I pass away?”, last modified February 2015, accessed August 3, 2015,

[17] Chris Price and Alex DiSclafani, “Remembering Our Loved Ones,” Facebook Newsroom (blog), February 21, 2014, accessed August 5, 2015, https://newsroom.fb.vom/news/2014/02/remembering-our-loved-ones/.

[18-19] Ibid.

[20] Vanessa Callison-Burch, Jasmine Probst, and Mark Govea, “Adding a Legacy Contact,” Facebook Newsroom (blog),  Febrauary 12, 2015, accessed August 7, 2015,

[21] Facebook Help Center, "What data can a legacy contact download," last modified July 2015, accessed August 20, 2015,

To cite this post (Chicago Style):

Parker, Marisa. “Personal Archives, Facebook Profiles and the Afterlife Online.” The Family Archivist's Notebook (blog). August 22, 2015.

N.B. This post was adapted from a paper written earlier this month for ARST 575F: The Digital Photographic Record, taught by Jessica Bushey at The School of Library, Archival and Information Studies, UBC. 

Monday’s Must-Reads: August 17, 2015

This post is my first weekly round-up of archives, genealogy, history and heritage-related articles, blog posts, and news items that I’ve read over the past week. Hope you find them interesting, useful and informative!


  • The (Unexpected) Emotional Impact of Archiving by Wanett Clyde on WITNESS Blog. Powerful post on “vicarious trauma” experienced by archivists and other individuals working with archives of trauma. I know how emotionally challenging the work can be from my own experience digitizing Holocaust records.


  • Navigating the Maze by James Tanner on Genealogy’s Star, June 8, 2012. This post outlines 7 great rules for finding useful genealogical information online. If you get to “Rule 7: Know when to stop” and you haven’t found what you are looking for, it may not be online. Check out my recent blog post for tips for finding analog genealogical records in archives.

  • Historic school yearbooks resurrected online by Olivia Carville, Staff Reporter for the, August 12, 2015. Carville reports on the recent addition of over a century’s worth of digitized Canadian high school and university yearbooks to


  • “Text and Textiles”: Finding Manuscripts in Unusual Places by Nora Wilkinson on The Conveyor: Research in Special Collections at the Bodlein Libraries, June 6, 2014. Did you know that parchment from manuscripts was repurposed as lining in medieval dresses? Wilkinson reports on a talk held by Dr. Henrike Lähnemann, chair of German Studies at Newcastle University, entitled “Text and Textiles: Manuscript Fragments in Medieval Dresses."

Social Media


Upcoming Events


  • August 22, Kelowna, BC: The Kelowna Branch of the Okanagan Historical Society will be hosting an “Old Fashioned Family Social” at the Father Pandosy Mission. The all-ages event will feature “old fashioned clothes washing, spinning and weaving, calligraphy and face painting.” Admission is $2 for adults or $5 per family.

  • October 27, New Westminster, BC: A panel of four BC curators and collections managers will discuss deaccessioning policies and procedures in a talk entitled “The Duty, Documentation & Dilemmas of Deaccessioning,” held by the BC Museums Association (BCMA). Although the talk is part of the BCMA Conference 2015, you do not need to be a conference delegate to attend.  Click here to register. 


  • November 5-8, Pasadena, CA: The Daguerrian Society will be holding its 27th annual symposium and 19th-century photo fair at the Hilton. The event will feature exhibitions, speakers, walking tours, a gala reception, and a dinner banquet. Learn about 19th-century photography and engage with curators, collectors and dealers. Non-member registration is $275. Learn more here.

For more weekly round ups, check out Gail Dever’s Crème de la Crème on Genealogy a la Carte, Linda Stufflebean’s Recommended Reads on Empty Branches on the Family Tree, and David Rajotte’s blog, Documentary Heritage News.

To cite this post (Chicago Style):

Parker, Marisa. “Monday's Must-Reads: August 17, 2015.” The Family Archivist's Notebook (blog). August 17, 2015.