March 24, 2013
It’s been four years today since I moved my blog to WordPress. To all my readers, a big and heartfelt thank you, and to my family and friends, thank you for your support. Here’s to the blogosphere and the wonderful opportunities it offers!
Photo courtesy of Jon Sullivan
March 24, 2013
Barbara Matthews discussed the 2011 Model Act and Regulations and its potential effect on genealogical research on the Massachusetts Genealogical Council’s blog, the MGC Sentinel. The Model Act regulates vital records. The latest version includes recommendations that would prohibit public access to these records well beyond what most states require now.
Angela McGhie of Adventures in Genealogy Education shares unexpected lessons (part one and part two) she learned from Thomas W. Jones’ recent lecture, “Variables in Professional Genealogists’ Approaches to Research,” presented at the Association of Professional Genealogists‘ recent Professional Management Conference in Salt Lake City, UT.
Speaking of Tom Jones, his highly anticipated new book Mastering Genealogical Proof is now available for pre-order through the National Genealogical Society.
March 17, 2013
I’m catching up on several weeks of blog posts and news articles with this one.
For those who are concerned about issues surrounding the Georgia Archives, Georgia Archives Matters has published a series of updates on legislation concerning funding and the possible move of the Archives to the University System of Georgia. Please read these posts and contact your state legislators in support of the Archives.
Dave Tabler of Appalachian History published an interesting story on a local-ish family, The Meaders Family of White County GA keeps pottery traditions alive.
Charlie of Carolina Family Roots shared some excellent tips on newspaper research and Chesterfield County SC research sources. If you’ve ever considered joining a lineage society, you might also be interested in his post, Pitfalls: Some Approved Genealogies Are Wrong.
Brenda Joyce Jerome of Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog discusses The Value of Researching Deeds.
Robyn at Reclaiming Kin shared an interesting post on the Legacy of the Rosenwald Schools.
Heather Rojo of Nutfield Genealogy published Photograph Friday ~ The Battle Road between Lexington and Concord. This area is definitely going on my travel bucket list!
Judy G. Russell, The Legal Genealogist, brings another look at the law, this time the the laws of the church. (When I read Judy’s blog, I’m nearly always struck with a Who’da thunk? change of perspective.)
And just in time for St. Patrick’s Day…
March 16, 2013
Over the past little while, I’ve had several inquiries by researchers asking if I could point them in the right direction with their research. In some cases, I was able to help because the researchers could explain exactly what they needed. The remaining researchers did not, and in return, I asked a series of questions designed to elicit their research goals for the particular individual or family they needed help with.
The thing is, we all have goals in the back of our minds for the research we’re conducting. When we look at a particular ancestor or family, we think, Wow, it sure would be great to know who Dixie Lou’s parents were or I wish I could figure out where Bobby Jean is buried.
Go ahead, try it. Now, see what I mean? The goals are there whether we articulate them or not.
Unfortunately, formal goal setting is one simple action researchers fail to do, yet it is a necessary step in the research process. Defining and articulating the research focus (i.e. the goal of the research) can keep research on track and help the research process flow efficiently.
February 24, 2013
What did Southerners do before large power companies and the TVA brought electricity to rural areas? They made their own power, of course! Appalachian History reprinted an article by Rabun Countian Linda Barden called A Look Back: When the Lights Came On. A fascinating look at the entrepreneurial spirit.
Last summer at Samford University Library’s Institute of Genealogy & Historical Research, I had the privilege of listening to a talk given by Michael Hait on his work reconstructing a Maryland slave community. Part of Michael’s research toward that end was published in the December 2012 issue of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly. Michael’s blog post Writing the Ridgelys describes some of his behind the scenes efforts on both fronts.
Whenever anyone uses probate records for research, I give a little cheer, so imagine my happy dance when Randy Seaver posted Mining Cornelius Feather’s Probate Records for Genealogy Nuggets.
The Internet has been a boon to genealogists in many ways, including the ability to research using digital images of original records. What happens when those images are taken offline and we need to provide a source citation for them? Harold Henderson addresses this problem in It’s Gone! Now What?
February 20, 2013
ranted about discussed how I choose to take positive action when confronted with willful ignorance.1 My example yesterday, of the use of certain terminology, was nit-picky, I admit. So today, I’m pulling a Dan Mitchell and listing real examples of behavior not to be emulated:
- The certified genealogist who published a series of books based on the work of other researchers, without citing sources or doing any work to confirm the findings of those other researchers, and who then complained, when confronted with problems in the research, that it was hard to publish and s/he couldn’t be responsible for errors in the publication.
- The professional genealogist who told a potential client interested in having slave ancestors researched that unless the slave holding family left a will, there was no way to trace the slave.
- Another professional genealogist who told a potential client that wills were the only records of probate available for research.
- Two professional genealogists who advocate strictly defined limits on who can perform professional genealogy, including high standards of professionalism, but whose conduct is so unprofessional it has drawn open censure from other professionals.
Followed by examples, in no particular order, of genealogists who go above and beyond the call of duty to help others:
- Elizabeth Shown Mills, who has contributed so much to the field that it’s difficult to summarize her activities. Among other things, she opens her virtual door to questions from all researchers in a variety of forums, in addition to all of her many duties.
- Judy G. Russell, whose blog The Legal Genealogist is one of the best resources for understanding historic legal records.
- Thomas W. Jones, who is one of the editors of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly and a prominent teacher and lecturer.
- Christine Rose, who, among her other duties, has published many helpful, high-quality guides.
This list could get very long indeed if I listed everyone by name (and, believe me, I have a long list of genealogists to be thankful for), so I’ll just make a shout-out to all the individuals out there who:
- Write informational and educational blogs
- Edit and/or contribute to society publications
- Speak for societies and at conferences
- Write books on genealogy-related topics
- Share knowledge by participating in mailing lists and other forums
- Donate time and/or money to societies, libraries, and other places
- Work to preserve historic documents and artifacts
- Mentor other genealogists through tough research problems
- And so much more!
I know many genealogists who contribute their time, whether paid or not, to helping others in the genealogical community. Thankfully, these individuals comprise the large majority of genealogists. We are a helpful bunch!
Speaking of, have you done your good deed for the week?
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1. I did not intend to call the population at large ignorant. That is certainly not the case. My frustration comes through the actions of those who deliberately remain ignorant for reasons that are specious rather than innocent.
February 19, 2013
Over the past few weeks, I’ve read recently-published literature by three different professional genealogists who used the terms “primary source” and “secondary source.” One of the genealogists is a well-known, fairly high profile individual with a great deal of experience on the topic of that particular literature; in other words, someone who should know better than to use such imprecise terminology. Yet there it was, in black and white, for all the world (and a lot of less experienced researchers) to see.
I could throw my hands up in despair, say Will they ever learn?, and fret over how useless it is to expect people to lift themselves up from the mire of ignorance. Or I could do something positive to advance good research habits, including educating myself and sharing that experience with others.
I would like to issue a challenge to every researcher to be an agent of change this week. Pick one way to help someone else (or yourself!) learn a new skill, tackle a tough research problem, or track down a long lost relative. It doesn’t matter what you choose to do as long as you choose to do something. We can sit around waiting on the world to change, or we can act in a way that will help that change occur.
To help get things started, I will go first. My action this week will be to bring my nephew (who is in 10th grade) information about The Concord Review, and to make a commitment to him, my son, and my niece to help them, when the time comes and in whatever way I ethically can, to research an essay for submission to that publication.
What change will you effect this week?
February 18, 2013
Last month, while pondering which genealogical societies to renew memberships in or join, I also ruminated on the value of a society’s publications to its membership, and how the quality of a periodical might influence the size and loyalty of said membership. Like many genealogists, I enjoy receiving a variety of journals, quarterlies, and newsletters over the course of each year. Each periodical varies in scope and content, and each provides valuable information to the society’s members.
That being said, some periodicals are of better quality than others. My absolute favorite is the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, which is edited by two well-qualified experts in the field. Publication in the Q is highly sought after, but only the most well-crafted and researched articles are able to pass through the rigorous review process.
Obviously, not every publication can attain the same level of stature, but every society should strive to have the best periodical it can. Here are my thoughts, as both a reader and an author, on how societies can perfect their publications.
February 14, 2013
A few years ago, I came across a January 1864 list of indigent families who “drew factory yarn” in Rabun County. That list has been stuck in the back of my mind ever since as I ponder the idea of factory yarn.
Here lately, I’ve been spending some quality time with my knitting needles making Christmas gifts and finishing up a few projects. I discovered quite by chance that knitting for even half an hour before bedtime helps me sleep better than spending the entire evening on work. (Imagine that!)
After spending so much time from Halloween to Christmas knitting for others, I decided to do something nice for myself. My Christmas stocking this past year contained a skein of some beautiful sock yarn. Coincidentally, I’ve always wanted a pair of hand knit socks.
A while back, I read Sharon DeBartolo Carmack’s A Genealogist’s Guide to Discovering Your Female Ancestors : Special Strategies for Uncovering Hard-To-Find Information About Your Female Lineage, in which she discusses using social history to fill in the blanks of a woman’s life.1 One of her case studies, toward the back of the book, discussed the day-to-day responsibilities of a woman living in the 19th century, one of which was knitting stockings for all her household’s residents.