Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Always More to Learn

1866 Map of Mississippi
Tuesday night and Wednesday night I attended genealogy classes.  I firmly believe there is always more to learn, and more knowledge never hurts when doing research.

Tuesday's class was "Finding Country Cousins in Land and Property Records", by Susan Goss Johnston.  The class was part of the Intermediate Genealogy Series presented by the California Genealogical Society and the Oakland Regional Family History Center.  The emphasis in the class was that land records can often be used to prove family connections when no other records are available.  Several types of property records were discussed, including federal lands, state lands, and existing claims.  We looked at the differences between metes and bounds, and townships and ranges.  Case studies showed how looking at who bought (or acquired) land when, where, and from whom can help you figure out relationships, migration patterns, and life cycle events such as marriages and deaths.  I've done some property research, but not in complicated cases, so it was interesting to see how you can connect family members through the transactions, and I did learn a lot.  Next week's class is "Seeking City Slickers in Lesser-Known Records."  I think it will be a good one also!

Wednesday night I attended the monthly African American Research Workshop held at the ORFHC.  This month's topic was location-based genealogy -- looking at how the physical geography of the area in which people lived affected the ways in which they interacted with other people and with the world around them.  The first thing we talked about was Tobler's First Law of Geography:  "Everything is related to everything else, but near things are more related than distant things."  For genealogy, this means that people are more likely to marry people who live close to them.  We then watched the first two parts (there's a third part, but we didn't see it) of Bernie Gracy's "Breaking Down Walls with Location-based Genealogy" on YouTube (Part 1, Part 2).  He demonstrates with maps the factors that led to families living close to each other and shows in censuses the results of those close relationships and how he tracked down family members.  I've used some of the logic and techniques he discusses, but I never had a name for the method before.  The videos are available on YouTube for anyone to view and learn from, which is very generous of Gracy.

Now all I need to do is find some research where I can put this new information to use and shift it to long-term memory ....

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