Genealogical Gratitude

Posted on: November 30th, 2013 by

Thanksgiving is a time to name what we are thankful for. Thanksgiving 2013 is just past, but it’s never too late to express gratitude. Here are nine things about genealogy today that I am thankful for:

  1. The quantity of original source material that’s available on the Internet.
  2. The rate of increase in the quantity of source material available on the Internet
  3. The people and organizations who are providing the money and volunteer time to make those materials available.
  4. The people and organizations who are setting standards for quality in genealogy and family history.
  5. The people and organizations who are explaining and teaching the standards for quality genealogy and family history.
  6. The people and organizations who are making educational opportunities more accessible than ever for genealogists.
  7. The people and organizations who are preserving genealogical records.
  8. The people and organizations who working to keep records of interest to genealogists open and accessible to the public.
  9. The societies and individuals who make physical and virtual places for genealogists to come together, exchange ideas and practices, and share their successes and frustrations.
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GRIP 2013 Wrapup

Posted on: October 10th, 2013 by
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Days 4 and 5 of GRIP 2013 followed the pattern of the first three–great lectures and class discussion

Day 4 opened with Craig Scott, CG, giving a talk on Bounty Land, State and Federal. Craig started off by defining bounty land and pointing out its roots in the practice of the Roman army. He proceeded through a description of colonial and post-Revolutionary bounty land grants, including a bibliography of source materials and finding aids.

Paula Stuart-Warren, CG, returned with a talk on Manuscript Sources, 1780-1840. Her talk illustrated a variety of ways including the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections (NUCMC) to locate these materials.

After lunch Josh Taylor presented Resources of the DAR: Beyond Revolutionary War Soldiers, describing the DAR’s online databases, library, manuscript collections, and application files. The discussion was enriched by contributions from several class members who are DAR registrars and genealogical consultants.

The afternoon concluded with a Pennsylvania case study led by Josh. Thursday evening Michael Hait, CG, stepped in on short notice to replace a scheduled lecture by Pamela Stone Eagleson, CG, giving a lecture on probate processes.

Day 5 was a short day, with sessions in the morning, followed by lunch and departures. Debra Mieszala, CG, presented a session called Families after Transit: Case Studies in Ohio, which included lots of class participation.

GRIP 2014 will include a couple of innovations. First, there will be not just one, but two GRIP sessions next year, one in Pittsburgh a new one called GRIP on the Road in Orchard Lake, Michigan, near Detroit. And, the Pittsburgh session will offer three new courses.

Pittsburgh GRIP dates are July 20-25, 2014. Course offerings are

  • Intermediate Genealogy: Tools for Digging Deeper (Paula Stuart-Warren, CG)
  • Determining Kinship Reliably with the Genealogical Proof Standard (Thomas W. Jones, Ph.D., CG)
  • Becoming an Online Expert: Mastering Search Engines and Digital Archives (D. Joshua Taylor, MA, MLS)
  • Finding and Documenting African-American Families (J. Mark Lowe, CG, and Deborah Abbott, Ph.D.)
  • Practical Genetic Genealogy (Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL, CeCe Moore, and Blaine Bettinger, Ph.D., J.D.)
  • Law School for Genealogists (Judy G. Russell, J.D., CG, CGL and Richard G. Sayre, CG, CGL)

Orchard Lake GRIP on the Road dates are August 3-8, 2014. Course offerings are

  • Intermediate Genealogy: Tools for Digging Deeper (Paula Stuart-Warren, CG)
  • Determining Kinship Reliably with the Genealogical Proof Standard (Thomas W. Jones, Ph.D., CG)
  • Bridging the 1780-1840 Gap: From New England to the Midwest (D. Joshua Taylor, MS, MLS)
  • Polish Genealogy (Cecile Wendt Jensen, MA, CG)

Registrations opens Wednesday 12 February 2014 at noon eastern time for the Pittsburgh courses, and Tuesday 25 February 2014 at noon eastern for the Orchard Lake courses. I’ll see you in Pittsburgh!

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GRIP 2013 Day 3

Posted on: July 25th, 2013 by
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Day 3 began early. In my experience, Wednesday is the hardest day of an institute. The adrenaline of starting has largely burned off, leaving fatigue in its wake.
It was a good day in Bridging the Gap, though. Paula Stuart-Warren, CG, led off with a presentation called Military Resources: State and Local Archives. Despite technical difficulties, Paula succeeded in convincing the class that these lesser known records, found in state and archives, libraries, and historical societies, as well as in academic collections, are well worth looking for.

Paula was succeeded by Josh Taylor, presenting on New York’s Land Companies. Since I have almost no experience researching in these areas (and not much interest or motivation to do so), I expected not to enjoy the talk. Instead, I was enthralled. Contributions from members of the class with experience researching in the repositories and collections Josh was describing enriched the discussion. In response to questions from the class about New York land companies other than the ones he had covered, Josh obtained additional material from a colleague in New York over the lunch hour and presented it when he returned in the afternoon. This kind of interactivity and responsiveness on the part of the instructors is one of the features that make institutes such an attractive learning environment!

After lunch, Debra Mieszala, CG, returned with a talk on Migration from Pennsylvania and Ohio to the West. Debra’s presentation style is lively and informal. After starting by showing–not just telling–how researchers can use topographic maps to understand migration routes and settlement patterns, she moved on to describe canals and roads, using nineteenth-century and modern maps along with excerpts from travelers’ accounts.

Josh came back to end the day with a New York-focused case study, working backward from Wisconsin into the area of New York owned by the Holland Land Company. The case beautifully illustrated the thesis with which he started the week–for researching the gap period, you need to take advantage of every possible resource. For this afternoon’s case, Josh drew not only on land records but on compiled genealogies, correspondence with other researchers, Midwestern county histories, church and cemetery records, and federal and early New York census records.

As before, the day ended with time for project work. I had stolen time during lunch and breaks to compile a bibliography of contemporary or near-contemporary works on the Whiskey Rebellion, locating copies online and in repositories near home through WorldCat. After class, I built on what I learned from Josh’s land companies presentation as I did a JSTOR search for the Pennsylvania Population Company, a land company from which Peter Barnes purchased his land in Beaver County, Pennsylvania.

This evening was free–no lectures. Many GRIP participants took advantage of the free time to visit local libraries, including the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and the Western Pennsylvania Genealogical Society Library. (Institute Directors Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, and Deborah Lichtner Deal had included descriptions of these libraries, along with the LaRoche College Library and the Northland Public Library, in institute materials. I continue to be impressed with this kind of thoughtful, personal touch.)

Instead of visiting the libraries, I chose to continue working with the articles on western Pennsylvania land, the Pennsylvania Land Act of 1792, and the Pennsylvania Population Company I found in JSTOR, feeling very grateful the Hennepin County Library JSTOR subscription I was able to use with my Hennepin County library card.

More tomorrow!

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