Monday, June 29, 2015

New England Searching

In my last post I told about our trip to Alabama. However, I skipped over another genealogy trip. In late April we traveled to New England, specifically Connecticut and Rhode Island.

After a quick stop at Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts we arrived at our hotel. Is there something wrong with my car? It seems that it gets this problem every time we go through Sturbridge- it has to veer off and park in their parking lot for a time no matter what! My husband and I actually did well that Sunday afternoon, we did not tour the actual village this time and the purchases at the bookstore were kept to an economical amount. I think that many of us are aware of what the real problem with that car is—it is owned by a librarian/genealogist and another genealogist. A bookstore full of historical books is just too much of an attraction!

The first two days of our trip after travel were dedicated to researching in Connecticut. I had asked my husband if we could do some research in the town of Milford where some of my earliest ancestors had settled. He agreed under one condition, we include the town of Stratford west across the river where some of his ancestors had lived. Well let’s see, I have to joke about those elusive ancestors I was looking for, they jumped around so much that I swear they must have kept a boat at that river so they could leave almost as many records in Stratford… of course I was willing to research there as well! Another of the towns we looked at was Derby.

Did I mention that these ancestors were elusive? I can find many records on them. Edward Wooster was one of the original settlers of Derby moving there from Milford. What can I find of his great-great-grandson’s marriage supposedly in Milford in 1785? “A stranger in town married Miss Munson.” That is it, and it is a year off from when all the unsourced trees have it and the same year as their oldest son (who again I can find no record of) was assumed to be born. They are certainly elusive which is why all the estimated and unsourced information abounds. However, I think I’ve collected enough to write a good case for indirect evidence with Ebenezer Wooster marrying Sarah Munson and having Leverett Lyman Wooster as a son. This on-going puzzle may just become part of my certification portfolio, so no more details will appear about this search for a while.

The last place we researched was a quick trip late on Tuesday afternoon to the Connecticut State Library. It was late by the time we got there and we spent a little less than an hour in the library. However, the trip was worth it. We got an overview of the library and a good idea of their holdings. Next time we have a chance to research here, we will already have some familiarity and be able to make the most of our time. It was a good orientation to this new to us facility. Our one mishap with this trip, and I had been aware of the potential problem, was that we attempted to leave Hartford during rush hour. We got on the interstate all right, but then had to watch our exit go by—across 2 or 3 lanes of very busy traffic. That meant that we had to figure out a new route, and I don’t own a smart phone so we were doing it the old-fashioned way with maps and good guesses. We saw a bit more of the Connecticut landscape and got back to our hotel only a little later than planned.

All in all, we had a great two days of research with lots of information to pour over once we got home- some of which I am still trying to pull together. After a relaxing day of rambling around Rhode Island, we ended up the following afternoon in downtown Providence. Here we made our headquarters for the rest of the trip- about a block from the Rhode Island Convention Center. Why there? For three days the convention center was filled with fellow genealogists converging for the New England Regional Genealogy Conference (NERGC). Held once every two years, NERGC is located around New England and brings together a great bunch of people researching their New England roots. The 2017 conference will be held in Springfield, MA.

We attended many different presentations on regional topic such as one on the Godfrey Library, some on NYS research and western migration, general topics on how to research and writing/publishing. It was a great mixture of regional and national speakers. After three days, one is left with a mixture of exhaustion, disbelief that it is over already, despair over mistakes one has made and above all inspiration and momentum to get in there and do more and better research!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Of Magnolias and Education

It is June and in Birmingham, Alabama temperatures in the 90s and high humidity are the norm. So why would this northern girl who suffers in such a climate head south? A little over a thousand miles drive, Birmingham is home to Samford University and at least for another year, is the host of the Institute of Genealogical  & Historical Research (IGHR). This year for the first time, my husband and I were registered and made the trip to this institution. He was taking the Intermediate course in Genealogy and I took the Genealogy as Profession

Elissa Scalise Powell CG, CGL, coordinates the course I took with additional presentations by the following:
Tom Jones, Ph.D., CG, CGL, FASG, FUGA, FNGS
Michael Hait, CG
J. Mark Lowe, CG, FUGA
Kelvin Meyers
Benjamin Spratling, J.D.,
Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL

Through five days of both fun and learning with my 14 classmates, we covered many aspects of research, elements needed for a business and various opportunities available within the genealogy community.  

Our Class with 2 of our instructors

Although a few different aspects were mentioned and talked about in class, the reality is that there are endless possibilities for a profession in genealogy. They range from working for one of the big companies such as, working in a library, to self-employment or even leading a group of researchers. Our instructors were only able to mention a few of the possibilities during the week and I and my fellow classmates, have many additional ideas as we get ready to either launch our own businesses or further our efforts along these lines.

Other topics covered included writing research plans, lecturing, time management, DNA, forensic genealogy and certification. As IGHR is a southern institute, many of the students were from such southern states as Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi. The north was also well represented with not only two students from, New York, but students from Michigan, Wisconsin and Illinois as well.

Optional lectures were in the evening as well on various topics. It was not all about learning though. There was plenty of social time, meeting old friends and discovering new ones. I attended a gathering of “ProGen” on the first evening at a nearby restaurant. This group consisted of facilitators, people taking the course and many of us that have already completed. For those not familiar with the ProGen study course, it is an 18 month on-line course where people meet once a month to discuss a topic or two from the book Professional Genealogy: A Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers, and Librarians, edited by Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FNGS, FASG, FUGA. In addition to the discussion each month, you have an assignment that you complete and submit to be reviewed by a group of your peers, while at the same time you are reviewing their assignments and helping each other on them.

Did I just mention Elizabeth Shown Mills? She was the speaker at the banquet held on Thursday night. After a delicious meal in a beautiful cafeteria in the main campus building, she gave an entertaining talk entitled: “Lost Eyes, Whipping Posts, and Wife Swapping: Lessons from Yesteryear.” I’m not sure how long it lasted, but the night deepened almost unnoticed outside as we listened riveted to her talk as she not only entertained, but also educated us at the same time.

The campus of Samford itself is old and beautiful. When you imagine a university campus in the traditional sense, this is what comes to mind. Stately buildings from the 1800s grouped around a quad that is grass filled lawns with magnolia trees in bloom. Pathways leading to and around fountains with benches and tables to sit down at to relax, enjoy the views, or perhaps actually study. The architecture is such that I could imagine men in old-fashioned attire accompanying women in hoop-skirted dresses along the pathways. This is not to say that the campus is way behind. Modern amminities abound including wi/fi throughout, a food court in the main building and such. New buildings were going up as we studied this past week.  

Receiving My Completion Certificate from Elissa Powell

Altogether, it was a grand week. I left feeling energized and inspired, ready to further my plans for creating a business. Of course, it was not without sadness that I left as well, I made many new friends this week and got to know a number of people better than I had before. Was that drive south in June worth it? Well, let’s just say I’m hoping that come next June, my car will once again be pointing towards Alabama!

CG, Certified Genealogist, CGL, and Certified Genealogical Lecturer are service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists®, used under license by board certificants after periodic evaluation, and the board name is registered in the US Patent & Trademark Office.

Photos are courtesy of Carolyn Rybnikar one of my fellow classmates.