Genealogy Research in the 21st century
In recent years, there has been an explosion of genealogical resources and tools on the Internet, making it possible to do far more research and interpretation from home than was even conceivable a few years ago. You will learn how key sources and critical methods in conducting family research have changed — and how traditional standards and methods are still relevant. Special emphasis is given to the best use of these new online resources and technologies, both in the search for information and in evaluating and presenting its results.
The instructors plan to be available to students for consultation regularly in the Genealogy Collection, Bluebonnet Regional Branch, East Baton Rouge Public Library. (Dates and times will be announced at a later date).
This page will be used to provide information for students in the Spring 2010 class. Classes will be held on Tuesdays, 9:30 - 11:30 a.m. Feb 23, March 2, 9, 16, 23, 30.
We request that students register for WeRelate. This will allow you to post your comments and questions on the Talk page associated with this page. You will also be able to create pages for your own ancestors which you can share with your family and the class.
No textbook is required for the class. We do have some recommendations for those who desire one. You may wish to review these titles in the Genealogy Room at the Bluebonnet Library to see which may best suit your needs before purchasing.
North Carolina Research: Genealogy & Local History. 2nd ed, 1996. Edited by Helen F.M. Leary, CG, FASG.
Reference for Citations: Evidence:Citation & Analysis for the Family Historian by Elizabeth Shown Mills. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1997.
Your Personal Research
Handouts & Downloads
To download the following files, click on the links. (All are PDF files.)
Links to Useful Downloadable Forms
The following are free from Ancestry -- just click the links!
FamilySearch (LDS) has its own free forms and charts available -- plus maps, research outlines, resource guides, and historical reference guides. All of these are available at:
A number of other genealogical sites include a variety of free, downloadable forms to record the results of your research. For a good list of where these can be found, see:
Several people in the first class session inquired about how to do searching on the Web in general -- not just in genealogy. This is a huge subject and most of it is therefore outside the scope of the class. However, there are a number of good general guides available online. One of the best I can recommend is Dean Sherwin's "The Guide to Internet Searching", available as a free download (it's a PDF file) at MakeUseOf.com. Just click on the link. (There are scores of other useful guides available at that site, by the way, on all sorts of techie subjects.) --Mike 09:03, 24 February 2010 (EST)
FamilySearch — How to Get to Record Search Pilot
This was on the slide in the 2nd class, but here's a reminder of how to get to the useful part of FamilySearch (and avoid the "dump" of un-sourced family trees):
• Try supplying less or more (i.e., more general or more specific) information and see how that affects the results you get.
LGHS Spring Seminar, 2010
The Louisiana Genealogical & Historical Society has for many years hosted a one-day seminar in April, in Baton Rouge. Topics and speakers vary from one year to the next, generally alternating between a small group of local authorities speaking on more or less local topics and a single speaker of national reputation brought in by the Society and speaking on a series of topics of more general genealogical interest. Many of the "big names" in our field have appeared over the years.
Everyone who has an interest is invited to attend, of course, and the cost has remained low. Members of the Society get a discount on the fee, however, and you probably would find it worth your while to join the Society yourself — which also means you would receive copies of the Louisiana Genealogical Register. A copy of the announcement flyer for 2010 is available HERE. You can print this off for your own use, and also to register for the seminar.
Membership in the Society is $25/year for an individual (this rate has not increased in a decade) or $30 for a "family membership," which includes only one copy of the Register. As the note on the seminar announcement says, you can send a single check for both membership dues and for the seminar registration, should you decide to join. We hope to see you there!
Further details on the Society and its activities can be found at the LGHS website.
--Mike 11:32, 10 March 2010 (EST)
First Families of Louisiana
The Louisiana Genealogical & Historical Society also sponsors a lineage program for descendants of residents of colonial Louisiana. For basic information on qualification of an ancestor and on acceptable documentation, plus a set of links to those qualifying ancestors whose lineages have been made available at WeRelate, see First Families of Louisiana here at WeRelate. For much more detail, useful articles, a full list of those colonial ancestors for whom application has successfully been made, and for application forms, see the First Families of Louisiana page at the Society's website. --Mike 11:32, 10 March 2010 (EST)
You don't have to be doing genealogy for very long before you begin to discover "brick walls" in your lineage — questions of identity or relationship, mysterious disappearances off the face of the earth, . . . problems you can't seem to overcome, no matter how many times you go over whatever evidence you've been able to uncover. Sometimes, what's needed is to talk it out with another genealogist, who will obligingly point out the clue you've overlooked. Sometimes, though, you just need to talk it over with yourself. Write down all the data you have, all the guesses you've made, all the family traditions that don't quite make sense. Explain — as if you were explaining it all to someone else — why each fact (or "fact") works or doesn't work, what evidence you need to search for, which of those family traditions seems reasonable and which don't. Really, write it all up as an essay. You'll be amazed at the way new clues leap out at you, points you've looked at dozens of times but hadn't really thought about. All experienced genealogists do this. Think of it as a researcher's "client report," with yourself as the client.
As an example of this sort of re-analysis of the evidence, take a look at The Problem of William H. Smith, here at WeRelate. This is one of my own "brick wall" problems. --Mike 14:39, 11 March 2010 (EST)
Census Instructions, 1790–2000
While reading through a page of one of the past 210 years' worth of U.S. censuses, have you ever wondered exactly what questions the enumerators were supposed to ask? Actually, the government changed the questions considerably over the years as the census became a tool for budget planning in addition to its original Constitutional intentions. The U.S. Census Bureau itself has compiled the official instructions for each census that were given to census enumerators and interviewers (who, in the earlier years, were U.S. marshals) and made them available on this page. The full document, Measuring America: The Decennial Censuses from 1790 to 2000, can be downloaded in sections as PDF files. --Mike 14:11, 15 March 2010 (EDT)