Monday, January 12, 2015

Some Great Resources and Advice, from D. Joshua Taylor

On Saturday, January 10th, I went to see D. Joshua Taylor's fantastic 4-part presentation at the San Diego Genealogical Society's 70th Annual meeting.  You can see this "fireside chat" with him and Michael J. Leclerc recorded July 2014 for more introduction.

D. Joshua Taylor recommends broadening your research scope to include online resources aimed toward historians and not just genealogists (in fact, the links on state archives labeled for genealogists are usually geared to those just starting out on their journey).  Include broader topics such as time period and location in your searches, as searching for a particular name may not yield any results.  Sections for educators can be fruitful for the genealogist.

One crucial resource is the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections (NUCMC), which I briefly covered in an earlier blog post.  ArchiveFinder was specifically mentioned, which is a subscription database that is available at large institutions (for San Diego residents it is available at UCSD*).  On the other hand ArchiveGrid, which is part of WorldCat, is free to use.

Another resource is JSTOR, which includes journals, primary sources, and books.  You can set up your own individual account (which has some limited access to full-text articles) or access all the full-texts through a large institution (for example in San Diego you can use UCSD*or SDSU*)

Taylor also mentioned Early American Imprints, a database I had not heard of before (Series I and Series II available in San Diego through UCSD*).  He describes it thus:
Single page broadsides, pamphlets, and multi-volume works comprise what is referred to as Early American Imprints.  Currently, these imprints are available online in two series.  The first, Series I, is known as "Evans," and covers 1690-1800.  The second, Series II, is known as "Shoemaker-Shaw" and covers the periods between 1801 and 1819.
Imprints often contain pertinent genealogical information that is useful in bridging the gap, including sermons, laws, cookbooks, music, court records, histories, etc.  They can also contain names, dates, locations, events, and are also helpful in establishing and building historical context.
Taylor then went on to discuss state archives.  I have looked a number of state archives before in my research, including Virginia and Alabama, but he emphasized spending some time with each website to discover what they really have to offer, as each state is different and has its own strengths and quirks.  I found Cyndi's List has a good directory of state-level archives and libraries.

Finally, aim to produce a finished product in genealogy, which can include not just pedigree and lineage charts but write-ups on whatever research you do.  It isn't enough to spend a day at the genealogy library or courthouse only to go him and never do anything with the information found.  It was a good reminder to me why it is important to take research beyond a collection of facts and try to synthesize a story or narrative about my ancestors.

*I believe you have to physically go to the university unless you are a student or employee and already have a password.

© 2014 Copyright, Christine Manczuk, All Rights Reserved.

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