The 2012 I Found It in the Archives Contest Winner, sponsored by the Society of American Archivists, is Julie Dresser of Sycamore, Illinois, who wrote about her research at the State University of New York at Plattsburgh.

It’s fascinating what 50 bucks will get you at the county recorder’s office” is one of my favorite lines from the movie Sneakers. The same can be said about the under-utilized archives across our nation that are teeming with the diaries, letters, invitations, bills of sale, receipts, deeds, etc. of countless individuals. Several years ago, I was fortunate enough to discover that my fourth great grandmother left sixteen extant letters and that they were available at the Benjamin F. Feinberg Library, Plattsburgh State University, Plattsburgh, New York. Eunice Jones wrote these letters to her sister and brother-in-law between the years 1853 and 1859, and thankfully they were saved.

For more about Julie’s award-winning trip to Plattsburgh, visit this link.

Dresser’s entry bested seven other finalists in the contest in which the public voted for the winner. More than 8,400 votes were cast. Dresser’s prize includes complimentary airfare to SAA’s Annual Meeting in San Diego this August and two nights stay at the San Diego Hilton Bayfront.

The eight contestants in the 2012 competition shared their personal stories of discovery using historical records, photos, diaries, letters, and other treasures they found in archival collections. The entries—1 video and 7 essays—were put forward by SAA members for the national competition.

The I Found It In The Archives! campaign was all about using social media to spread the word about the national contest and, in the process, exposing as many people as possible to the wonderful stories of discovery that told by our contestants. Thanks to all for telling friends, family, users, and colleagues about this competition.

Here are the eight entries from the 2012 national competition: