Sunday, September 6, 2009

Partial Saturday in Little Rock -- sign a petition for the Library of Michigan!

I had to leave early on the last day of the FGS conference, but did pick up a few thoughts:

* Got an ancestor in the 1830 census and no idea where he or she lived, because the county wasn't yet divided into townships? As part of the discussion of her "sure-fire never-fail" "5-P test for proving identity," Elizabeth Shown Mills gave a whirlwind demonstration of how to use census neighbors' landholdings to track the path of the census taker and thus locate individuals who hadn't purchased land.

* Paula Stuart Warren went through at least 20 different kinds of school records (I lost count) and almost as many different places to find them.

* Richard Sayre gave the nuts and bolts of topographic maps and the relevant coordinate systems. This seems to have been map day, because he too wound up showing how to correlate a variety of maps to find the exact present-day location of an ancestral farm, using online sources.

I was especially disappointed to miss Tom Jones on "Solving Problems with Original Sources," including such rarely consulted sources as Revolutionary War pension final payment vouchers, Federal district court papers, and "loose" probate papers (that is, the evidence and forms filed in the case, as opposed to the matter copied and preserved in will and probate record books). Fortunately, this session, like most, was to be recorded on CD by Jamb Tapes, Inc. of St. Louis and hopefully will soon be available via their web site. Their people had a several-times-daily aerobic workout coordinating the recording of speakers at far opposite ends of the Peabody Hotel and Statehouse Convention Center complex.

State-level news: Illinois has started planning for hosting the 2011 FGS in Springfield. And the joint FGS-NGS Records Preservation and Access Committee has started an on-line petition to save the Library of Michigan. The legislature can still reject the governor's ill-advised executive order that would disperse the library's collections; so far only one house has acted.

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