Saturday, October 24, 2009

State Archives

Although I have had very little opportunity to visit a lot of state and local archives, I know that they have much to offer researchers. I recently worked on a case where checking the state archives website really paid off. The name I was looking for was pretty common so I didn't do a very thorough search of the Family History Library Catalog for family histories for this family. I figured I would have to weed through a ton of them and it would waste a lot of valuable time for the client. Besides that, so many of them are not documented that it really wouldn't prove anything.

The case I was working on was for a returning client and so I knew from my previous research that there was an item of interest at the Georgia State Archives that looked like it dealt with this family. I found this on an old catalog listing that had been microfilmed and was at the Family History Library. Before preparing a letter to request copies of the desired document, I decided to check their online catalog to see if there were any other items that I should request. While there I found a book that seemed to be written about the family I was researching. I jotted down the name of the author and the title and did a quick check of the Family History Library Catalog and lo and behold it was there.

This family history book was a well-documented family history about the family. It was written by a guy with a Ph.D. and he cited throughout the book the documents he used to prove the lineage. It took the family back three more generations. I know my client will be happy. It was also a great book to read for those struggling to prove lineages during the 1700s. Because he cited his sources and his conclusions and discussed his methodology, I really learned a lot.

It was a good research week!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Quakers in North Carolina

Tis a gift to be simple. Tis a gift to be true.
Tis a gift to have Quakers as ancestors too!

Sorry for the play on a traditional Shaker song but it seemed to fit. This past week I worked on a project where the maternal half of the family were Quakers. They came from North Carolina into Indiana in the early 1800s. It was such a wonderful thing to find them listed in Quaker records. The records were loaded with information.

The marriage record gave the names of the parents of both the bride and the groom. It also included a list of 12 witnesses who had to vouch for the couple. The names of some of these people looked like they might have been relatives. It reminded me a little of looking at the godparents in christening records and trying to figure out how they were related. Birth records were also included that listed each child and their birth date. It was such a fun find.

The records I looked at were originals on microfilm and they had ink blotches that made them at times unreadable but overall they were pretty good. I found some wonderful resources for the Quaker records in Indiana. Many of them have been extracted or abstracted and published in great volumes. What a quick way to do a radial search for ancestors that were Quakers in Indiana.

Another type of Quaker records that would be useful are dismissal certificates. These were given to members as the moved out of an area to be presented to the congregation in their new area. This helps you to know exactly when the family left one area and arrived into another. Makes a great paper trail!!

One of the keys to locating the records is to figure out what Monthly Meetinghouse might have been close to their home. A good map of the county for the time and a knowledge, through land records, where exactly your ancestors lived would be quite helpful. When in doubt, however, search all the records for the county that are available. =)

Wouldn't it be great if we all had a little Quaker blood?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

North Carolina Archives

This week as part of the learning process I am looking up the major repositories for the mid-South region. I decided to start with North Carolina. One of the cases I am working on is in North Carolina and so it seemed like a logical place to start. It doesn't hurt that some of my ancestors came from there as well. You may have seen some of these in previous blog entries but it doesn't hurt to repeat them. It will help me learning process.

So let's start out with the North Carolina State Archives . If you go to the home page and then click on "State Archives" you will be taken to a page where you can access the "Guide to the Research Materials in the North Carolina State Archives" . Or you can just click on the link I have set up here. There are a lot of good things listed available both on microfilm and in boxes and folders. I think it would be great to visit there someday.

Another good place to visit would be the State Library of North Carolina They have a nice listing of links. One that caught my eye was TN Counties (formerly in NC) . Some of my ancestors went from North Carolina to Tennessee and there is a map showing which areas were formerly North Carolina and the corresponding counties they became when Tennessee became a state.

The Family History Library's Research Outline for the state of North Carolina recommends the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library . They seem to have some interesting items for southern history research. A good site to know if you're writing a history about your family from North Carolina and want to get some historical background.

The best repository for searching in North Carolina however, is not in North Carolina. The Family History Library of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They have one of the largest collections of microfilmed records from the state of North Carolina. On the shelves on the third floor you can find a book The Historical Records of North Carolina by Charles Christopher Crittenden. This three volume set gives background on each of the counties and a listing of their inventories.

If you know of any others, please leave me a comment so I can update this list.