Saturday, February 21, 2015

What I Learned Saturday at the FGS/RootsTech Conference

The Federation of Genealogical Societies and RootsTech held their joint conference last week in Salt Lake City. Saturday, I only attended two sessions because I had to catch my flight back home. Here are my top three take-aways from each session.

“She Came From Nowhere…” A Case Study Approach to a Difficult Genealogical Problem – Michael Lacopo

Michael went through one of his difficult cases that he solved. Here are 3 general things I learned:

1.     Often in order to research women, you need to follow the men in her life.
2.   Literature searches are important. Search quarterlies and newsletters from the area from inception to the present day. Even if they’re not indexed. I can attest to the benefits of doing this. I can also say it’s a pain. And time consuming. But very worthwhile.
3.     Look to social history for things like the average age at marriage and naming patterns.

Problems like the one Michael presented are not simple problems. They are very complex. They can take a long time to solve. Like years. So you need to be perseverant.

Beyond the Census: Non-population Schedules – Deena Coutant

Deena’s presentation was my favorite of the day and one of my favorites of the conference. Deena is another presenter I think we will be seeing much more of.

Genealogists use the Population Schedules on a regular basis. We usually just refer to them as the “census” or “federal census.” There are six other non-population census schedules taken at various times in our country’s history. Here’s a sliver of information about three of the schedules.

1.     The Agriculture Schedules are one of my favorite non-population schedules. They are helpful in many ways. They can help differentiate between two men of the same name, similarities in crops/livestock can suggest relation or group immigration, they can help identify agriculturally related sideline businesses and much more.
2.     The Manufacturing and Industry Schedules can provide a picture of where workers spent their days (if they worked for the business owner) and businesses your ancestor patronized.
3.     The Social Statistics Schedules really caught my attention. They were taken from 1850-1880. They help paint a detailed picture of a community without the names. They can help you determine your ancestor’s standing in their community by looking at average wages and real estate values, among other things. If you are trying to tell you ancestor’s story, the Social Statistics Schedules can help you.

The various non-population schedules are located in many places including,, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), government document repositories, and other libraries and archives. Locating some of these records could be an article in and of itself.

Tip: In the card catalog search on “non-population.”

Deena’s talk was the last for me. I had to head for the airport and say goodbye to the FGS/RootsTech conference and Salt Lake City.

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© 2015, copyright Michelle Goodrum

1 comment:

  1. I was at this presentation too! Definitely a lot of good information from Deena.