After two weeks away from the Reading Town Forest archiving project, it took some time to get re-oriented. I returned to my contents list for box 1 (a mix of material from the late 1800s, early 1900s, and the 1960s) and added detail until all the folders had been described to some extent. Then I was unsure whether to do the same for box 2 (materials from 1960-2000s), or to return to the more detailed work describing the older materials. I personally find the older materials more interesting, but we haven’t had a chance to meet with Rachel’s contact from the Town Forest Committee yet. Not sure what he’d prioritize.
I decided to go back to what I was doing two weeks ago, sorting through the oldest material in box 1, looking for anything that might tell me which lot a particular item refers to. Other than maps, it’s mostly hand-written pages which are often difficult to read. They have early dates on them (“June 18, 1895” in the document shown below), but I’m not always sure if they were written at that date, or if they were written much more recently by someone who was copying notes down from actual old documents. It would help if I knew more about the history of paper making. Some quick online research shows a patent for a paper ruling machine made in 1864; ruled paper might well have been available in 1895.
When one of these hand written pages has a deed number or land owner’s name, I use the search function in my excel spreadsheet to look for any corresponding information. After a half hour of looking, the deed number 2376-39 written at the top of a page (see upper right corner of the image below) pulled up Lot 21 in my spreadsheet. Because this page has been annotated in blue pencil with the number 1 (which is how lot 21 was identified in the old system), I have an additional bit of confidence that my spreadsheet’s information is correct, and that this page should indeed go into Lot Folder 21.