Using Colonial Records in Family History Research This lecture covers New England research from the earliest settlements to the American Revolution. With superb availability of records from the period and excellent access, genealogists will find the colonial period a wonderful and productive work environment. New England’s genealogists are lucky, indeed. The period from 1620 to 1776 saw change in society and settlement. What made that society different from today? What roles did institutions play in the lives of the settlers? Did a man serve in the militia or represent the town in the General Assembly? What records were kept? Where can you find them today?
During the lecture, we develop biographies for a man who came over in 1635, a woman of the late 17th century, and a man who ran a tavern in Boston in the mid 18th century. We find the tavern on a town map, and the tavern sign in an old history book; we read about the ocean crossing, and we even use the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts.
Locating Documents for a Lineage Society Application Gathering documentation for seven, ten, or even fourteen generations can look formidable as you start. This lecture identifies a wide variety of lineage and hereditary societies, what sort of documents to look for and where to find them, how to keep organized, what different types of documents you need in different periods of time, how to know when you've found enough, and when to call in the professionals for help.
What does your document prove? Primary v. secondary; original v. derivative; and direct v. indirect. Includes samples and audience participation.
Where to begin: obtaining the application, reading the instructions.
How to organize what you've found; the different types of applications (starting with you or with your ancestor).
Start the document search at home.
Categories/periods: the modern, Victorian, and colonial generations.
The Modern Generations: vital records and how to locate them, less expensive substitutes.
The Victorian Generations: how to gather documents to support a death certificate; census, Bible, gravestone and newspaper records; probate and deeds.
The Colonial Generations: vital and church records, published sources, probate and deeds.
When to seek professional help.
The final application and possible follow-up needs.
The syllabus includes published and web-based resources, as well as a form to use for organizing each generation.
Dearest Brother Chauncey: Letters Home from Families on the Westward Migration Why did they go West? One (large) family’s experiences and the letters they wrote home tell us a lot about internal American migration.
One man and his fifteen children teach us all about the migration from New England to the Midwest and West. By looking at the letters they sent home we can learn how they traveled and why they moved. We will follow them to upstate New York, Ontario, Ohio, Indiana, and Utah. We will learn about river boats, canal boats, wagon trains, and the railroad.
Power Researching Connecticut Online You’d be surprised how much research you can do online, from home, about Connecticut families. This lecture explores major genealogy websites and a few smaller ones you haven’t heard about. his lecture goes beyond the census records we all love to use in order to look at major gateways to genealogical records online. The discussion includes:
The original three colonies of Connecticut
Early histories of towns and the colony
Getting educated about Connecticut genealogy
Link lists and gateways (compares search results among them)
Journal articles online (and PERSI)
Local History Books
Confirmation of death, gravestones, obituaries
Maps and land records
Planning your next research trip; ordering Family History Library microfilms
Introduction to Genealogical Research in Early Colonial Connecticut This beginner-intermediate lecture furnishes an introduction to colonial period research in Connecticut. It includes a comprehensive look at records, record keepers, and repositories.
Detailed description of the history of probate records and where to find them, including Andros period, 1600s, and district courts.
Boundary disputes: with New York; on Long Island; with Rhode Island; with Massachusetts.
What this means for the modern researcher: be aware of town growth patterns (Stratford and her daughter towns); records kept at town level (vital, deed, church); records kept by the probate district; records compiled at the state level (military; modern indexes to vital records, church records, newspaper notices, and gravestones).
The syllabus includes books for the Connecticut researcher; a comprehensive list of town-wide genealogies for the colonial period; details on how to find the statewide indexes in the Family History Library catalogue; and a few useful dates and publications on probate research.
Negotiating the Maze of Connecticut Probate We will look briefly at the types of estates and estate papers that can be found, touching both on loose papers and on record books. We will then move chronologically through recordkeeping, finding out where records are stored and how to access them. We will end with examples of estates and probate districts.
The roles of executors, administrators, and commissioners.
More than fifteen different types of documents found in estates, such as wills, inventories, bonds, guardianships, and distributions.
Where probate was recorded at different periods in Connecticut history.
Directions on how to locate the records on microfilm.
Examples of probate documents from different periods in Connecticut history.
The syllabus includes a list of published probate records, a list of probate document types, a chronology of probate recordkeeping in Connecticut, directions on how to use a library catalog to find probate records, and a blank form for abstracting probate records.
Speeches on Genealogical Writing
Writing Your Family History This beginner-level lecture takes a look at creating scrapbooks, writing autobiographies and biographies, and creating storybooks or the traditional genealogical tome. It’s a pep-up talk that attempts to get people invigorated to record their family history.
When you die, if you haven't published your family history in some form, how accessible will your research be to others? You have options beyond the traditional classic family genealogy. We will look at what it takes to create scrapbooks, and to write autobiographies, biographies, storybooks and the traditional written genealogy.
Have you really figured out who your audience is? The difference between telling your family about their own history and producing a reference book.
Create a scrapbook, captioning each photo.
Start with what you know: the autobiography.
Record family stories.
Reference books to use.
Get out there and publish.
The syllabus includes a list of the important published reference books and a few fine examples of genealogical writing.
Written Genealogies: The Basics Creating a written genealogical narrative of your research is actually simple and straightforward. This lecture will discuss identifying the audience and will look at structure, format, numbering systems, descriptive and biographical materials, and the all-important footnotes. This intermediate lecture looks at structure, format, numbering systems, descriptive and biographical materials, and the all-important footnotes.
What parts do they use: explain why the classic genealogy is formulaic.
Set out the formula.
Describe a representative family.
Create the first paragraph together with its footnotes.
Create the children paragraphs.
Create the biography using both topical and chronological approaches. Suggest a checklist of topics to cover.
Pull the puzzle together to create the final written genealogy for one family.
Explain how families are continued and show samples.
The syllabus lists both excellent books to use as samples, and books that explain how to write and publish one's family history.
Our Ancestors in the Revolution: Telling the Stories to Family Members Stirring stories from the American Revolutionary War can convey to family members the real excitement of genealogy. Were they Loyalists? Patriots? Slaves leased to militia units? Where did they fight? Which battles? What was it like to be a private? Who were their leaders? How did their families fare on the home front? This intermediate lecture provides practical ideas and draws from the speaker's experience doing just that, writing her first book, about her Revolutionary ancestor Philo Hodge.
Finding service information is about more than just looking at enlistment records.
Research militia service conditions.
Find personal stories even when your ancestor didn't leave one.
Research conditions on the home front. Look at childhood, economic conditions, local and national elections, what types of work women did and how farmers farmed.
Bring it all alive with illustrations, maps, and living history museums and reenactments.
Publish it, including seven different ways to publish stories.
The syllabus lists books and websites for research as well as details about publishing options.
Write While You Research: Let the Joy of Research Infuse Your Genealogical Writing Do you enjoy the genealogy hunt? But hate the writing? Write your research reports, genealogies, or articles at the same time you are researching. This speech breaks the process down into easy-to-follow steps, from preparation to finish. Researching and reporting at the same time is easier, more efficient, and merges the joy of research with the chore of writing.
Writing research reports – or just about any type of genealogy writing – tends to be the last thing we do. It stretches out endlessly as a huge chore, a block to overcome.
How much better it is to write and update our text immediately as we research. We have our sources to hand. We can write all our citations and modify our research plan right away. We go home with a finished report (or nearly finished). At any point in time, we know just where we are in our research and we can show it to others.
The foundation elements you need before you step into the repository or library
The boilerplate for a report
What the finished report will look like
The immediate process in the library
Paragraphs and “knowledge chunks”
An example: disambiguating two men of the same name
Concepts and terminology
Don't Let the GPS Own You: Take Charge of Your Proof Discussions This advanced lecture shows the iterative and reactive process of developing a proof argument. We work together on footnotes, modified research plans, multiple proof argument drafts, writing, and editing.
What Is the Genealogical Proof Standard?
Where can you learn more about GPS?
Case study from Kentucky shows how a lack of direct evidence in records doesn't mean we can't figure out who the parents are.
Elements in a good proof argument.
What to do when the documents disagree.
Syllabus includes an overview of the Genealogical Proof Standard, many different ways to learn about it (from books to websites to videos), and practical writing suggestions.
Speeches on Evaluating Evidence
Recognizing Errors Using ample samples from her own pedigree, the speaker discusses the types of errors found in all sorts of documents, from vital records to deeds and probate records; from obituaries to cemetery stones; and through-out published family genealogies. The lecture includes some hints on how to let your instincts tell you when something is not quite right.
Each problem below is discussed at length: what the error is, how it was identified, what documents support other points of view, and how the error might have come to be.
Vital records: birth certificate shows adoptive parents as biological parents; a second child by same name leads to typo in Barbour; spelling of surname varies; misinformation about parents on death certificate; wrong birth date on death certificate.
Newspaper: error in survivor name in obituary; discussion of how obituaries are developed.
Probate and deeds: errors in family makeup stem from treatment of stepchildren in will; copying property description leads to mis-identification of mother.
Bible record: error in parentage of person alive when Bible printed - the importance of looking at handwriting.
Incorrect derivative: several family and town-wide genealogies err in their discussions of the Darwin and Bartholomew families.
The speech ends with a discussion on using "who, what, why, when and where" to think about documents and to sharpen the researcher's instincts.
Getting All Sherlock: Using Your Sources as Evidence Sometimes the information you need to break through a brick wall is already on your desk. Evidence analysis helps you to wring the last little bits of value from a document. Correlation and comparison of evidence from many sources leads to breakthroughs. The GPS provides our road map. We will look at examples from my own ancestry and discover how attention to details broke through brickwalls for Anna and for Emily.
How to fragment and analyze information.
What to do when documents disagree.
Syllabus includes background and resource material on the GPS as well as an example of a table breaking down several records with disagreement in the details.
Evidence Evaluation Originally created as a three-hour workshop, this topic can become a one-hour speech or up to three separate one-hour speeches covering the terminology used to evaluate genealogical records. It covers specific cases, from straightforward evidence to complex, indirect, and conflicting evidence.
This presentation or set of presentations can be geared to the intermediate or advanced audience.
Evidence Evaluation and Document Analysis workshops have been given several times:
National Genealogical Society's conference in the Board for Certification of Genealogist's Education Fund's workshops in 2008 (and upcoming in 2015).
New England Regional Genealogical Conferences in 2011 and 2013 (and upcoming in 2015).