GRIP 2013 Day 3

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!