The Federation of Genealogical Societies and RootsTech held their joint conference last week in Salt Lake City. Friday, I attended three sessions. Here are my top three take-aways from each session.
Gentlemen Judges: The Justices of the Peace – Judy Russell
This was my favorite presentation on Friday. I have an ancestor who was a Justice of the Peace so I had a strong interest in Judy’s talk. The top three things I learned:
- They were also called judge, justice, commissioner and magistrate depending on the time and place. Also, many JPs were recorded in the census as “esquire.
- JPs were the level in the legal system most of our ancestors came in contact with. They came from all walks of life and were most likely drawn from our pool of ancestors because no formal training was required. They did need to be literate though.
- I always think of a Justice of the Peace as someone who performs marriages. He had many more duties though, including: trying smaller civil cases and less egregious criminal cases.
The next session I struggled with making a choice. Should I go listen to a talk on researching French ancestry? Or listen to one of my favorite instructors Tom Jones? Initially, I decided on the French presentation because Dr. Jones’s talk was recorded. However, I was running late and by the time I got to the room, it was standing room only and about 100 degrees inside the room. So I headed for…
Writing a Prize Winning Family History – Tom Jones
Dr. Jones compares writing to making something out of a lump of clay. Start rough and refine as you go. To illustrate, Dr. Jones put up an image of a draft article he wrote. There were different colored highlights and some of the citations were blank. He even said some of them were incomplete! The point was was that you just need to write. You can always go back and tidy things up.
Here are 3 tips:
1. The two best ways to write genealogically? Read reputable genealogical publications and write as much as you can and as often as you can. In other words, just do it!
2. Work in chunks and start with what is easiest and most interesting to you first.
3. Minimize repetition and cross-referencing. Otherwise you lose your readers. Phrasing to avoid includes:
a. As previously discussed
b. As will be shown
Dr. Jones talk was full of excellent instruction, tips and tricks for writing your family history. I hope you get something out of these three tips. I can’t wait to put what I learned to use.
Using Tax Records for Genealogical Problem Solving – Michael Lacopo
This was the first lecture I’ve heard from this speaker. If you’re not familiar with him, you should be. He writes the blog, Hoosier Daddy? about Michael's search for his mother's birth parents. At the end of each post, he leaves you with a cliff hangar. It reads like a who done it novel. Read his blog. You’ll be glad you did. But start at the beginning.
Three things I learned about researching in tax records:
- Why everyone should use them (besides being part of the reasonably exhaustive search): the various levels of government regularly mandated many kinds of taxes and they put your ancestor in a specific time and place. This is just one of many reasons why you should use tax records. If you’re not using them, you should be. OK?
- For state taxes refer to the NGS Research in the States Series for your state of interest. The book will tell you all about tax records in that state.
- By tracing people through tax records you can prove things like parentage and differentiate between people of the same name.
That’s it for Friday’s summary. I’ll be back soon with a summary for Saturday’s sessions.
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© 2015, copyright Michelle Goodrum