Saturday, March 31, 2018

Received at the library

Family tree magazine always has interesting articles.  The Dec. 2017 issue treats DNA and adoption, the subject of our January meeting.  The featured article is the 75 best "state champions," the best state sites for genealogy (ours is www.digitalcommonwealth.org, well worth a look).  A collection of Sanborn fire insurance maps that will eventually reach half a million maps from all 50 states is being digitized by the Library of Congress and is available free on their website www.loc.gov/collections/sanborn-maps.  A fascinating article on the history of mirrors reveals that King Henry VIII was an avid collector at a time when a small mirror was worth as much as an entire country estate!

The cover story for Your Genealogy Today (Jan./Feb. 2018) is about making sense -- or not -- of family stories.  "Small town genealogy" looks at how towns are preserving their history, an effort that probably many of our members are engaged in, whether here on the Cape or elsewhere.  "Constables and town watchmen" explains the history of these positions perhaps filled by our 17th-19th century relatives before the establishment of professional police forces.  A useful tool for organizing your research is timelines, or chronological spreadsheets, which can help you identify puzzles and gaps for further research as well as keep track of your research.  Another useful tool is the Genealogical Proof Standard, which can help you "Avoid common mistakes."  Diane Southard, somewhat tongue in cheek, compares contacting your DNA matches to a first date situation.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

April CCGS Meeting (Tuesday, April 10th) Will Feature Noted Genealogist Thomas W. Jones, Ph.D.

The featured speaker at the upcoming CCGS general meeting on Tuesday, April 10th, will be the preeminent genealogist Dr. Thomas W. Jones. Dr. Jones' presentation to CCGS, entitled "Solving the Mystery of the Disappearing Ancestor", will touch upon the common frustration that we genealogists commonly encounter in not finding ancestors in the records and places where we logically expect them to be. In his lecture, Dr. Jones will explain seven reasons why such ancestors seem to have disappeared, provide examples of each from actual case studies and suggest strategies to help attendees find their elusive ancestors.

Thomas Jones

Tom Jones is an award-winning author, editor, educator, and researcher focusing on methods for challenging genealogical problems. He coordinates courses at GRIP (Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh), IGHR (Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research), and SLIC (Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy), and he speaks often for local, state, national, and international genealogical societies. Since 2002 he has co-edited the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, and he authored Mastering Genealogical Documentation and Mastering Genealogical Proof.

Please note that the April meeting is taking place on the second Tuesday of this month.
Our meeting will be held at the Brewster Ladies' Library, Rte. 6A, Brewster, on Tuesday, April 10, 2018 at 10 a.m. Please consider arriving early for socializing and refreshments at 9:30.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Researcher's guide to American genealogy

A new resource has been added to the research guides section of the book collection at the CCGS Library.  The fourth edition of The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy was released in 2017 by author Val D. Greenwood.  A substantial book of close to 800 pages, it is divided in two parts:
  1. Background to research
  2. Records and their use
The author takes the research process quite seriously, stating that "...the notion that when we are copying someone else's work we are doing family history research/genealogy is a misconception." (p.5)  His best advice to improve your research?  Document entire families, not just your direct line ancestors (p.10).

Part I is full of practical tips on a wide range of subjects.  For instance, the chapter on language covers handwriting, abbreviations, spelling, useful Latin terms, nicknames, numbers and more.  A chapter on correspondence covers filing of documents acquired, analyzing correspondence results, writing your letter, its appearance, choosing the recipients, and a checklist of good writing practices. Other chapter topics in Part 1 are: understanding genealogical research, planning, evidence, libraries and the National Archives, reference works, organizing your findings, computer technology, the internet, and family history.

In Part 2 there is a wealth of information concerning specific types of records that are encountered in family research.  The chapter on wills, for example, covers the different types of wills, probating, contested wills (a process usually providing great genealogical information!), the value of wills, problems specific to wills, and finding and using them.  Suffice it to say, no matter what kind of record you are investigating, this handbook will provide you with a thorough and thought-provoking overview.

I am very impressed with this book, and 75% of reviewers on Amazon gave it 5 stars, so I'm not alone.  If you are embarking on a new area of research, having trouble with something, or just wanting to tighten up your research practices, I think you would find valuable information and inspiration in this comprehensive guide.  Come by the CCGS Library and spend some time with it, why don't you?