Monday, May 12, 2014

NGS 2014: Looking for Local Info--NARA, Periodicals, Newspapers

Day 3 of the NGS Conference (final attendance: 2,593!) was NARA day for me plus two other sessions about finding my ancestors in local records and newspapers:
  • NARA's finding aids. I've been too intimidated by the scope and diversity of the National Archives site to search it in detail. Pam Sayre says to start on the "Research our records" tab and learn about the online catalog. With her excellent ideas, hints from the Geni Guide (Guide to Genealogical Research in NARA), and the online index at the Archives Library Info Center, I hope to be able to figure out how to get WWI records for my Farkas great uncles, Mahler in-laws, and some ancestors in the Wood line.
  • Federal land tract books. Thanks to Angela Packer McGhie's presentation, I think I'll look into the land records for hubby's Steiner, Rinehart, and McClure farm owners. Among the sites she suggested investigating are HistoryGeo and of course the general land office records from BLM.
  • Maps, maps, maps. Rick Sayre's excellent talk on NARA's cartographic records inspired me to dig deeper into those maps so I can better envision population movements, economic impact, geographic features that affected immigrants' lives, and transportation possibilities. This will be especially helpful in tracing the McClures who left Virginia for Ohio, and the Pennsylvania Steiners and Rineharts. What were the common westward routes and how/when did towns and farms develop? Maps will help me learn more.
  • PERSI and beyond. Don Rightmyer wasn't just focused on Kentucky in his talk about state and regional genealogical periodicals. He reminded me to go back to PERSI on a regular basis and also check HeritageQuest and Find My Past for periodical listings to articles about everything from cemeteries and published obits to photo identification and social activities of our ancestors.
  • Criminals, soldiers, apprentices, and the news. Josh Taylor had the audience smiling and nodding as he described the databases we can use at Find My Past for locating British Army personnel (hello, Slatter great uncles), news articles about criminals and scoundrels, workhouse records, and apprenticeships (Shehen and Slatter family?). My local Family History Center has access to Find My Past, Fold3, and other databases--can't wait to get there and do more research!

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