09 June 2015

SCGS Jamboree: Day 2 presentations (6 June 2015)

My theme for Saturday's selections was definitely cluster genealogy. The first three talks I attended had that as their major theme. 

In my previous Jamboree post I noted the annoyance of speaker handouts that were not, for some reason included by the Jamboree app manager in the conference app.  I attended five presentations on Saturday and two did not have handouts accessible via the app: Lisa Alzo's and George Findlen's. Handouts for their talks were, however, located on the CD syllabus.

Lisa A. Alzo, "Letters, Ledgers, and Lodge Books: Finding Ancestors with Ethnic Resources"

The entire concept of seeking out records from organizations in which one's ancestor might have belonged presupposes value in cluster research or the FAN (friends, associates and neighbors) principle.

One should note witnesses on certificates and applications and try to determine the relationship of those people to the target of one's research.  Lisa noted that in the western Pennsylvania Slovak community in which she grew up there was reverse social networking: schools and work places sponsored events for their immigrant populations. People were also involved in church gatherings, clubs and fraternal organizations.

Resources from these types of organizations may be located via home and family sources; local libraries, genealogical and historical societies; and organizational websites. Sources may include: lodge books and business ledgers, membership applications, jewelry, calling cards, death benefit claims, and organizational newsletters.

Alzo also provided a nice comprehensive list of articles, guides and websites.

Sara Gredler, "Applying the FAN Methodology to a Community: Snowville, VA"

Since I was so enamored of Sara Gredler's Reunion software presentation on Friday, I decided to catch her presentation on using the FAN Principle to place ancestors in context.  

Often genealogists use cluster research to answer identity questions. But, Sara's research question involved a why question: Why did her subject, Asiel, and his some of his siblings move to Virginia from Massachusetts?  

To answer this question Gredler researched the social and economic context of her subject, his family and his neighbors. She looked at census and tax records, deeds, postmaster lists, town histories, the influence of religion, cemetery records and other Massachusetts transplants.

The answer is likely complex and, perhaps, still unknown, but an interesting study nonetheless.

George L. Findlen, " Finding What Can't be Found: A Case Study in Whole Family Research"

In his take on cluster research and evidence analysis, George Findlen presented his study in French Canadian research: who were Marie Felicite's parents and how do we know?

Lack of records directly addressing this issue led to a quest for indirect evidence in records of Marie's children, siblings, nieces and grandchildren.

He suggested conducting exhaustive searches for all vital records for two whole generations; writing full source citations for all records used; acquiring digitized copies of all records or transcribing them; noting and identifying all witnesses on documents; and, of course (in line with the Genealogical Proof Standard) preparing a written statement of one's reasoning for any conclusions reached.

Bottom line: indirect evidence can be as powerful as direct evidence.

Thomas MacEntee, After You've Gone: Future-Proofing Your Research"

For something completely different I chose to attend Thomas MacEntee's presentation on concerns and plans for passing on ones research. Thomas has a knack for thinking of eveything - and I came away with some great information and ideas. 

He suggested that one must have a plan. Create an inventory of your paper files/binders and digital files and online profiles.  Write down how your heirs may access your computer presence and determine what should be done with your profiles. 

Probably the best thoughts: have a conversation with your family and include your plans in estate planning.

Peggy Clemens Lauritzen, " Treasure in Township Records" 

Peggy Lauritzen's talk focused on record collections  that are rarely microfilmed, including: village and township stories, school section records (deeds and teacher registers), records of the poor, militia records, road tax records, marks and brands and building construction guidelines.

She recommended being prepared by knowing county history and spending time reading every entry in grantee/grantor indices. Trace individuals through every tax year. 

These types of records may be at the county or regional level. Check both.

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