Monday, June 11, 2012

IGHR Samford Day 1

Co-coordinator Ann Carter Fleming walked our class, Course 6, through the wonderful overlapping world of government documents, and then set us some puzzles to solve with them. Government documents (that is, those authored and published by the government) just don't behave like many other documents of genealogical interest. Only in some new on-line incarnations are they even indexed by name. But even to blunder around creatively you need to understand the landscape, which is complicated. Searches in print indexes by subject and geographic location sometimes work well. I found out personally that searching hopefully in a document that my ancestor or an associate might have been involved in does not work so well, but I am told that it does sometimes. That kind of uncertainty is a familiar quantity in genealogy.

What was most apparent from Fleming's lectures and from our own searching and browsing is that a great many things turn up in government documents that normal people would never expect to see. Would you like a nice list of neighbors in between censuses? Look for the record of a contested election!

Samford's library is a good place to have this class. The library affords quite a bit of choice in searches: at least two physical approaches to the Serial Set, and maybe as many as half a dozen on-line avenues.

Tomorrow we have a phase change, and it's all aboard for the law library . . .  I am reminding myself that "statutes at large" does not refer to a jailbreak by a bunch of Michelangelo sculptures!

Harold Henderson, "IGHR Samford Day 1, " Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 11 June 2012 ( : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]


Sheri Fenley said...

I am having a severe case of academic envy! Have a great week Harold!

Debbie V. said...

Sounds like fun :)