Archive for ‘From a Researcher’s Viewpoint’

August 25, 2012

Goin’ Back to Ol’ Virginny, or the Problem with Being a Records Junkie

Have you ever had that feeling that you’re stagnating, but you’re not sure exactly how to get out of that rut? Well, that’s me with my personal research. I spent some quality time with OneNote a few days ago to organize some of my research, in part looking for possible story ideas for articles, lectures, and blog posts.

I realized, as I do every single time I look through my pedigree, that I’m stuck in the 19th century with many of my lines.

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August 16, 2012

Thank You, RCGS!

Many thanks to the members of the Rockdale County Genealogical Society for the warm welcome at Sunday’s meeting. I very much enjoyed speaking with y’all and discussing some of Georgia’s “poor” records. Y’all made my first professional speaking engagement a relaxed and pleasant experience, and I appreciate that.

For those of you who missed it, the session was “Poor People, Rich Records: Researching Georgia’s 19th Century Poor.” The specific records we discussed were:

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June 17, 2012

IGHR Friday: The Green, Green Grass of Home

This whole week has been so action-packed that I’ve had a difficult time narrowing down topics to write about. I met so many people, made friends and important contacts, and learned at least a small something from each topic covered in the course I took. All that aside, I couldn’t wait to get home. This morning was a short one, and once certificates were handed out, goodbyes said, and the car packed, I gladly hit the road eastbound toward home.

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June 16, 2012

IGHR Thursday: Unintended Lessons

Of all the things we covered this week, there were a few lessons I learned that had very little to do with Southern genealogy. Case in point: I’ve been invited to speak at the Rockdale County (GA) Genealogical Society this coming August. I hope to have a powerpoint presentation ready to illustrate various items in the lecture, and I know I’ll need to create a really outstanding handout as well. So, I spent a good deal of time studying the format of this week’s lectures, the various types of slides used, and comparing syllabus layouts with the needs of my target audience. I learned quite a bit about the process during this week, but I’m fairly certain our instructors didn’t have those lessons in mind when creating their lectures.

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June 14, 2012

IGHR Wednesday: Slaves in the Family

I know I’ve talked about Michael Hait a lot in the last couple of posts. While Michael and I have met online and even corresponded a time or two, we had never met in person. He introduced himself Tuesday, and we’ve had several conversations since then centered around, you guessed it, certification and records, in particular records pertaining to slave and/or African American research.

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June 13, 2012

IGHR Tuesday: Am I Ready for Certification?

One of the hot topics amongst this week’s IGHR participants is certification. This comes up even in casual conversation, and because most of the genealogists here have a certain level of osity toward the subject, I doubt many realize how frequently it’s mentioned.

Tuesday night, Dr. Thomas W. Jones and Elissa Scalise Powell moderated a discussion about certification through the Board for Certification of Genealogists. This particular session deviated a little from the usual more formal format in that certified genealogists who were in the audience were invited to share their reasons for seeking certification. This was followed by a short conversation by Michael Hait and Harold Henderson on how not to submit an application for certification.

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June 13, 2012

IGHR Monday: A Whole Different Level of Serious

A few years ago, I attended the Federation of Genealogical Society’s national conference in Knoxville, Tennessee. I had never been to a national conference before and wasn’t sure what to expect. I kept looking around and thinking, is this it? I mean, don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed the conference, met some fantastic people, and learned a lot, but it wasn’t the kind of education I really needed. Although a growing number of lectures at national conferences are geared toward advanced topics and/or professional genealogists, most have the beginning or intermediate genealogist in mind. And since the lectures are short (generally 45 minutes in length with a ten or fifteen minute Q&A, although not always), the speakers don’t necessarily have time to give more than an overview of the subject being covered. A really good overview, but not generally the kind of in-depth discussion I was hoping for.

At IGHR, I’ve found that in-depth learning experience. The people here are absolutely amazing, from the institute’s staff to the course coordinators and teachers to the students. In between classes, everyone is in conversation, and most of it centers around genealogical issues. For those who are new to the institute (like me), some of that discussion revolves around getting to know researchers on a personal level, or meeting researchers in person with whom one has only ever corresponded before.

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June 10, 2012

Samford University’s IGHR: Sunday

Today, I drove to Birmingham, Alabama, to participate in my first Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR), held annually at Samford University. The campus is small but lovely, and everyone seems very nice. Classes start in the morning. I’m taking Course 3: Research in the South, Part 1, led by J. Mark Lowe, the course coordinator. We have a bevy of other good speakers for this course, namely Linda Woodward-Geiger, Deborah Abbott, and Michael Hait. I’m looking forward to hearing what these fine researchers have to say about the records, resources, and history of my native land.

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May 28, 2012

In Remembrance

Ned Cohen Burrell
1917 – 1973
US Army, World War II

Edgar Calhoun “Johnny” Ledford
1954 – 2000
US Navy

Lake Randolph Ledford
1905 – 1980
US Navy, World War II

Thad J. Watson Sr.
1921 – 1944
US Army Air Corps, World War II

May 4, 2012

The Bell Research Center, Cumming, GA

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to visit the Bell Research Center, a wonderful resource for Northwest Georgia researchers.

Established in 2004, the Bell Research Center is located in the Historic Cumming School at 100 School Street in Cumming, Forsyth County, GA, in a room adjoining the Historical Society. The Center houses a large collection of genealogical and historical publications, primarily for Georgia, North and South Carolina, and Virginia, but for other areas as well.

Of special interest is the collection of Civil War books occupying one segment of the floor-to-ceiling shelving. The Center also has nice sections of research volumes for other wars, including, but not limited to, the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.

A complete index of research materials is available online.

There are some drawbacks to researching at the Bell Center, including the current lack of a microfilm reader which renders their microfilm collection unusable. For Forsyth County researchers, this shouldn’t be a problem, as the Center is within easy walking distance of the Forsyth County Courthouse, Administration Building, and Cumming City Hall.

The Bell Center is only open four hours per day during the week, which is a drawback for those who travel to visit their collection. It is open most of the day on Saturdays, however, and I would encourage out-of-town researchers to take advantage of these longer hours.

Finally, the Bell Center does not necessarily have an updated collection of Georgia publications. For instance, they have not yet obtained Paul K. Graham’s works on the 1805 and 1807 Georgia Land Lotteries, Georgia Land Lottery research, or his Atlas of East and Coastal Georgia Watercourses and Militia Districts, all of which are must-haves for Georgia researchers of those time periods and localities. The collection of published volumes for Georgia counties is also not complete, although most counties are well-represented, particularly with older, hard-to-find publications.

The Bell Center is only eight years old. Even considering its short life, the Center has an incredibly well-rounded collection of publications useful to genealogical and historical researchers for Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia. I’m certain that given time and the support of the research community, its collection will grow to become one of the most outstanding in the region, a feat the Center is already close to obtaining.

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