Saturday, July 18, 2015

Find your secret genealogy weapon -- manuscripts!

(I'll never forget the day I found an original mortgage document, with my four research targets' original signatures in different colors of ink, in an archived collection of unpublished papers.)


Diamonds in the Rough: 
Finding and Using Manuscript Collections

Manuscript collections can be a genealogist’s secret weapon. Learn to find and use them!

The Board for Certification of Genealogists (“BCG”) will present a webinar on this subject free to the public at 8:00 PM EDT 21 July 2015. Shellee A. Morehead, Ph.D., CG, will describe collections of unique unpublished materials that may be hiding in plain sight, and how to access them online and in person -- including maps, photographs, diaries, letters, scrapbooks, genealogists’ research notes, unpublished histories, business ledgers, journals, vertical files, and other one-of-a-kind documents and objects that may provide insight into our families’ lives and neighborhoods.

Seating is limited for this webinar. Please register early and sign in early to avoid disappointment.

The BCG is an independent certifying body and author of the 2014 Genealogy Standards.

Shellee Morehead, CG, has a Ph.D. in evolutionary ecology and she has extensive research, writing, and teaching experience. She researches, writes, and lectures on family history. Her most recent article is “Thomas Hamilton -- Progenitor of a Colonial American Family: His Ulster Origins Revealed using DNA” in the Ulster Historical Foundation’s annual Directory of Irish Family History Research. Her recent speaking events include The Genealogy Event in New York. Her specialties include Rhode Island, Italian, and French-Canadian research and genetic genealogy. Shellee is a member of the Rhode Island Genealogical Society, the American-French Genealogical Society, and the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG).

“We are pleased to offer this informative webinar,” said BCG president Jeanne Larzalere Bloom, CG. “The Board for Certification of Genealogists strives to foster public confidence in genealogy by promoting an attainable, uniform standard of competence and ethics. Educating all family historians is part of this mission.”

There is no charge, but space is limited. Please register for Shellee A. Morehead, “Diamonds in the Rough: Finding and Using Manuscript Collections” before 21 July 2015 at:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. For more information contact:

Please visit to learn about BCG's previous webinars.

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 evaluations. The board name is a trademark registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.


Friday, July 10, 2015

Lennon on Temple in the Revolution

Genealogists talk a lot about historical context, but Rachal Mills Lennon does something about it. Her 19-page article on John Temple, a Virginian, in the March 2015 NGS Quarterly uses it as a major pillar of her research and analysis and correlation of the scanty evidence available on Temple's Revolutionary War career and pension. (Also, don't miss footnote 67.)

Having read this article, I hope that something similar will help with my Pennsylvania patriot problem.

Rachal Mills Lennon, "Context and Comrades Illuminate a Silent Southerner: John Temple (1758-1838), Revolutionary War Pensioner," National Genealogical Society Quarterly 103 (March 2015): 49-67.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Randolph County (Indiana) Relatives: Ina (Smith) Burdick

In the March National Genealogical Society Quarterly I traced a Smith family from central Iowa in 1870 back to eastern Indiana in 1850. It turned out that the parents of Ina (Smith) Burdick (1862-1932) were John Smith of Wayne County and Elizabeth (Smith) Smith of Randolph County, who were near neighbors.

(Ina married in Kansas City, Missouri, my wife's maternal grandfather's second cousin, Frank Burdick. He was one of the focus persons in the first portfolio I submitted to BCG for certification. So for those who are working on their own portfolios, remember that you may be able to reuse this material later on!)

Ina's relatives on both sides were crucial to identifying her parents and making a convincing case for their relationship, but it's in the nature of proof arguments that they only get mentioned, not described. The new (June) Indiana Genealogist fills in the picture by telling some of the stories of Ina's mother's extended Randolph County family, starting with Temple (1806-1885) and Priscilla (Crossley) Smith (1808-1890), who came up from Adair County, Kentucky, in the early days. Next issue will describe John's somewhat smaller family.

Together their descendants married into more than forty families:
Adams, Addington, Bias, Brake, Burdick, Chapman, Cox, Elliott, Engle (twice), Escher, Fetters, Getter, Hathaway, Hiatt, Hicks, Hildreth, Hill, Jennings, Johnson, Kinert, King, Kolp, Martin, Mason, McCurdy, Miller, Mundhenk, Newman, Pearson, Phillips, Piper, Ramsey, Ranson, Schwepe, Smith (again!), Summers, Swangle, Weaver, West, and Woodcock.

Members of the Indiana Genealogical Society can read it on line.

“Randolph County Relatives: Ina (Smith) Burdick’s Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, and Cousins, Part One,” Indiana Genealogist 26(2) (June 2015): 5-29.

“Crossing the Continent with Common Names: Indiana Natives John and Elizabeth (Smith) Smith,” National Genealogical Society Quarterly 105 (March 2015): 29-35.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

April 2015 New York Genealogical and Biographical Record!

Some Empire State reasons why I don't blog here as often as in the past . . .

If you have New York interests, don't hesitate -- go out and buy the NYGBS's new research guide and gazetteer! I reviewed it in the April NYGBR.

Also in the April issue is the third installment of "A Missing Heir" involving the intertwined families of Lewis and Dorcas (Hoxie) Bassett and  John S. and Zerviah (Hawkins?) Porter. This installment follows descendants of

* Lucy (Bassett) Hoffman and husband Matthew, whose trails lead to Genesee County, New York;, Lake County, Illinois; Chicago; and St. Louis;

* Harriet (Bassett) Burdick and husband Rodman, who also went to Lake County and Chicago; and

* Nathan Lee Bassett and wife Adelia S. (Reed) Bassett, whose trails lead to Jefferson County, New York; Walworth County, Wisconsin; Freeborn County, Minnesota; Larimer County, Colorado; and Chippewa County, Wisconsin.

More descendants to come.

Meanwhile I have had the privilege of joining NYGBR's editorial board as well.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Analyze or Else! guest post on BCG blog Springboard

Earlier this week I had a guest blog post on analysis on BCG's blog Springboard. Unusually, this is a blog that is edited, so hopefully this post will stand the test of time better than some others. And, yes, the editors helped make it better.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

BCG Will Make Two Changes to the Certification Process in 2016

BCG Will Make Two Changes to the Certification Process in 2016

            At the May meeting, the trustees of the Board for Certification of Genealogists authorized two significant changes in the certification process for new applicants. These changes will go into effect in 2016, when the new Application Guide is published. Briefly, for the first time (1) new applicants will be evaluated on their genealogically educational activities, and (2) new applications will be limited to 150 pages.

            Genealogy standards 82 and 83 state that genealogists regularly engage in formal and informal development activities for four reasons: to better meet the standards, to learn more about useful materials, to enhance skills in reconstructing relationships and events, and to better present their findings to others. Years of data also show that applicants with more genealogy education are more likely to produce successful portfolios for certification.

Accordingly, as is currently the case, applicants will be required to briefly describe the genealogy-related activities that help prepare them for certification. However, as is not currently the case, this section will now be evaluated. Genealogical-education activities will meet the evaluation criteria if they show that the applicant “has engaged in a variety of development activities aimed at improving genealogical standards attainment.”

This change adds one rubric to the evaluations of portfolios. The new rubric emphasizes the need for ongoing genealogy education. Failure to meet one specific rubric does not disqualify an application. Other questions currently asked in the resume will be eliminated.

            The second change will reduce the size limit for new portfolios to a maximum of 150 pages total. The current limits were established when BCG had more requirements for certification than now. The new size limit provides ample room for applicants to demonstrate their abilities.

            “These changes are part of BCG’s ongoing analyzing, evaluating, and refining the certification process,” said BCG president Jeanne Larzalere Bloom. “We hope that these two changes will streamline the process, make it more manageable for applicants, and encourage applicants to engage in a variety of genealogical-development activities before assembling a portfolio.”

            For questions or more information, please visit  or contact Nicki Birch, CG, at

            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.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Good news for researchers with Missouri black sheep!

Missouri now has arguably the best on-line information about prisoners, including PDFs of the log book including any identifying scars. Two other Midwestern states have transcriptions which may or may not be complete: Illinois and Indiana. (For Indiana, choose "Institution" from the drop-down menu "Record Series," then choose one of several correctional institutions from the drop-down menu "Collections." The resulting search form can be tailored for county and span of years. A null search will not work, so just go through the vowels to develop your own custom list for a given county and period.) Cyndi's List has numerous links but the actual pickings are slim.

So you definitely want your ancestral miscreants to have been caught in the Show-Me State. And while you're there, check out all the other good records Missouri is putting on line. If you state's prison records can better Missouri's, let us know in the comments.