Friday at Jamboree 2007

The first day of Jamboree 2007 is over and I thoroughly enjoyed my day. I met several old friends and made a few new ones.

State and Territorial Censuses and Substitutes 

The first presentation I attended was on State and Territorial Censuses and Substitutes by Bill Dollarhide. Bill discussed sources that describe the various state censuses available and mentioned a book by Henry J. Dubester, one by Ann S. Lainhart, The Source, The Red Book, and The Genealogy Bulletin. Each of these is good for a particular purpose, and each has its weaknesses.

One of the points that Bill Dollarhide made several times during his talk was that genealogy is in the county courthouse, and the census records can get you to the right courthouse.

Bill pointed out that many census records were lost. Most of the 1890 US Federal Census was lost in a fire, but other census records, such as the 1790-1810 records for Georgia, the 1790 census for Kentucky, and the 1790-1820 records for New Jersey are also missing.

Most states conducted a state census at some time, and the state censuses frequently asked more questions than did the federal censuses. Ancestry.com has started to post digital images of the state census records online.

When census records are not available, other records may be able to substitute for the census. The 1860-1993 Arizona Obituary Card Index, the Florida 1845 election returns, and the 1862-1866 Internal Revenue Assessment Lists for New Hampshire are just some of the available records.

Reverse Genealogy: Finding Your Lost Loved Ones

The second presentation I attended was entitled Reverse Genealogy: Finding Your Lost Loved Ones and was presented by Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak. Some reasons one may have to trace relationships forward, rather than backward in time include finding homes for orphan heirlooms, finding missing kin or friends, attracting reunion attendees, finding DNA study participants, and locating of returning family photos and Bibles.

Two different strategies can work to trace families forward in time: Help them find you (Broadcast) and Go find them (Seeking).

Broadcast strategies include posting on message boards and mailing lists, websites, email campaigns, photobases such as DeadFred and AncientFaces. Seeking strategies include adopting a surround and conquer mentality to first find clusters of associated people and then home in on the relevant individuals; starting with the most recently born, those with the most unusual names, and/or a male; going backwards in time in order to come forward; and following the trail of the deceased to find the living.

Megan has evaluated the value of resources to study Reverse Genealogy and mentioned that the relative rank of these resources changes with time. Currently, she ranks the resources as follows

  1. Census indexes
  2. Online phone directories
  3. Online lineage collections
  4. Online newspaper collections
  5. Social Security Death Index
  6. Online state vital records
  7. Search engines (such as Google)
  8. Other sources such as FindAGrave.com and Interment.net

Bring ‘Em Back to Life – Creating an Ancestor Profile

Drew Smith presented Bring ‘Em Back to Life – Creating an Ancestor Profile. Drew discussed a process to understand our ancestors as real people who lived full lives, rather than just disconnected pieces of information.

Creating a profile of our ancestors can help us to identify how much information we have, identify the quality of our sources, identify gaps in our research, place events in the lives of our ancestors in chronological order, understand why our ancestors may have made certain decisions during their lives, and form the basis for biographies of our ancestors.

To do this, we should locate our ancestors at every possible point in time through census records, land records, tax records, court records, estate records, and religious records. We should learn about other people in our ancestors’ lives, study historical events that may have influenced our ancestors, and study the personal events in our ancestors lives that may have influenced them.

One online resource for placing our ancestors in historical perspective is OurTimeLines.com.

I look forward to tomorrow – an even busier day!

Copyright © 2007 by Stephen J. Danko

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