Continuing Education: What’s In My Queue?

For anyone on the arc of becoming a professional genealogist, or working to professional standards, continuing education is of vital importance.

APG has a new continuing education requirement for Professional Genealogists as a tenet of its “Code of Ethics and Professional Practices” that reads:

“Engage in sufficient continuing education to maintain competence and comply with applicable requirements”.1

In addition, there are several standards put forth by the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) that address continuing education, in terms of both formal and informal engagement.

No one needs to convince me of the value of continuing education – in fact, I thrive on it. For me, the in-person multi-day genealogy conference or institute experience (or both!) is the highlight of my year. In addition to the learning opportunities, the networking, camaraderie, and research aspects are essential to my development as a professional genealogist.

For the last seven years, I have spent my vacation time from my day job in class, improving my skill set as a genealogist. Friends of mine at work groan – you’re doing what for your vacation? – is a common question. Just wait until they learn my next vacation will be in Pittsburgh. In July, I will attend the Genealogical Research Institute in Pittsburgh, otherwise known as GRIP, for the first time. There were a number of excellent courses to choose from, but it was not really a difficult choice in the end. I settled upon “Gateway to the Garden State: Sources and Strategies for New Jersey Research”. This is the first time I have seen a New Jersey course taught in the institute format, so I was quick to avail myself of the opportunity; I live in the Pacific Northwest, but spend a fair amount of my research time working on my New Jersey ancestors. After July, the next item on my continuing education plan is a return to the Salt Lake Institue of Genealogy (SLIG) in 2018. I have attended SLIG more than any other institute for several reasons: quality of education and speakers, and proximity. Proximity to Seattle, and proximity of the institute to the Family History Library. Yes, there are many FHL records online at FamilySearch, but so much more is available at the library that it makes a trip very worthwhile. The sheer breadth of their collections means you can research in many record types and many geographic locations across the globe from a single location.

Now and then I am able to combine classes with a more traditional type of vacation. In 2015, a friend and I were onboard for the maiden voyage of the FGS Alaskan Cruise with Royal Carribean. We went to genealogy sessions while at sea, and then were tourists in the ports of call at Juneau and Skagway, Alaska and Victoria, British Columbia. We went whale watching, did a brewery tour and tasting, and saw Coast Salish art at a museum, all while sampling the local fare. A genealogy cruise is a more intimate format than a large conference, as tables are set aside to dine with FGS attendees nightly, and there were several social hours for our group. We even had the opportunity to share a table one evening with Elizabeth Shown Mills, whom I was able to ask about where to submit a particular type of article for publication.

When possible, I choose to attend events in those areas where I have research to do, or where I can easily commute to places I need to do research. For example, I attended the 2003 National Genealogical Society (NGS) conference in Pittsburgh, and then spent several days afterwards visiting cemeteries and the library and courthouse in St. Clairsville, Lorain Co., Ohio where family had migrated to in 1803 from Virginia. Five years later, I attended the 2008 NGS Conference in Kansas City, Missouri where I met up with several colleagues from my local genealogy society. I then took some time after the conference to travel to St. Joseph, Missouri and Topeka, Kansas to visit family and ancestral cemeteries. I did research on-site in local libraries and at the Kansas State Historical Society (KSHS). Plus, I was able to get my barbecue fix at Jack Stack in Kansas City with my brother before heading out on my road trip.

The Library of Virginia in downtown Richmond is a huge draw for me as well, so I attended both the 2007 and 2014 NGS Conferences and stayed over both times to do research in the library and archives. Sharing oysters with a like-minded travelling companion at Rappahannock after a full day of research was a highlight which I hope to repeat.

Sometimes I cannot take more vacation time to attend conferences and institutes, plus the budget only goes so far. Fortunately, there are now plenty of online courses to choose from. I am currently enrolled in “Elements of Genealogical Analysis: A Class in Methodology”, a five-week session being taught by the esteemed Robert Charles Anderson of Great Migration fame, through the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS). His approach is a logical one based on what he calls “linkage analysis” and the building of linkage bundles and, ultimately, dossiers from carefully correlated linkage bundles. He uses examples from his book and from various short articles that we read offline to flesh out the methodology.

Earlier this month, NGS held its annual conference in Raleigh, North Carolina. Although I was unable to attend in person, I purchased one of the two live-streamed event packages, each consisting of five presentations. I signed up for the BCG Skillbuilding package taught by five of the top genealogists in the field today. Besides live-streaming of limited sessions, PlaybackNow offers audio recordings of most of the other lectures. These can be purchased as part of a larger package, or individually through the branded PlaybackNGS website. I picked up six individual sessions to add to my library of conference recordings that goes back to the first conference I attended in 1989.


PlaybackNGS website for the 2017 NGS conference in Raleigh, NC

Maintaining a spreadsheet of lectures helps prevent against duplicate purchases. Although not shown above, I cross-reference each entry with the starting page in the syllabus for ease of use.

The best part of the new format is that recorded sessions can be ordered online and are delivered immediately. I can listen to or watch conference sessions from the PlaybackNGS website, or through the PlaybackNow app. The app itself is a free download available in the iTunes or Google app stores – conference sessions are extra. Watching or listening to presentations using the app is simple and the quality is excellent. The conference syllabus is even available with purchase of any recording either through the website or in-app, by clicking PDF near the bottom left corner of the screen.

 
BCG Skillbuilding courses queued up in the PlaybackNow app

The only real task for me now is deciding which session to cue up next. I am delighted that I am again able to listen in the car on my daily commute via bluetooth streaming.

Whether you choose to attend events in person or online, continuing educational opportunities for genealogists at all levels are now readily available for a range of price points. Some are totally free and some can run up to about $125 for a series of webinars and related materials.

What’s in your queue?


Sources:
1 Association of Professional Genealogists, Code of Ethics and Professional Practices     (https://www.apgen.org/ : accessed 28 Mar 2017).

Consent in a Virginia Marriage Bond

Under what circumstances would a woman give consent to her own marriage in Virginia in 1821?

Mozingo-Smith 1821 Virginia Marriage Bond

We are all familiar with the concept of “consent“. The law states who is legally able to give consent in a variety of circumstances, age and mental capacity being two that come to mind. Another party who meets the legal criteria is required to stand in and give consent on behalf of someone who is underage, for example, and legally incapable of giving consent. What one typically finds in marriage records in particular is a parent or guardian giving consent for their underage child or charge to marry. That is not what we have with this 1821 marriage bond from Westmoreland County, Virginia, quoted in its entirety below.1

  “Know all men by these presents that we Newton Mozingo & William Johnson are held and firmly bound unto Thomas M Randolph Govener of Virginia and to his successors in office, in the just sum of $150..~ which payment will truly to be maid, we bind our selves and each of us, our Heirs, Exrs & Admers. Jointly & Severally firmly by these presents Sealed with our seals & dated this 22nd day of August 1821.

The condition of the above obligation is such that whereas a marriage is soon intended to be solemnized between the above bound Newton Mozingo & Elizabeth Smith. Now if there be no legal impediment to the said marriage taking effect then this obligation to be void otherwise to remain in full force and virtue. Witness our hands and seals the day and year written.”

harvey-mozingo-johnson-marks

Here is the part that I find odd. On a separate slip of paper filmed with the original bond is the consent – but not consent given by a parent or guardian. Consent, in this case, was given by the same woman who later was party to the marriage. Why?

elizabeth-smith-marriage-bond-consent-1821The above reads: “this is to testafy that I have give Mr Newton Mersingo leave to get out Lisens to be married to me Elizabeth Smith” 2
x
[her mark]

This consent statement has me puzzled. It is unlike any I have come across in a marriage bond in decades of doing research. I have raised the issue previously among my colleagues without getting a satisfactory answer. I have looked at the law for the time and place, and have found no reference to a woman consenting to her own marriage. Virginia marriage laws at the time dictated that:

» all parties to a marriage be 21 and over
» if either person was under 21, then consent of a parent (typically a father) or guardian was required
» a marriage license could only be procured upon “thrice publication of banns” or posting of a bond in the bride’s county of residence
» servants were unable to marry without consent of masters or owners
» a free person was unable to marry a servant, unless there was a certificate of consent from the master or owner3

While the law does not appear to directly address this situation, what is certain is that this is not an isolated example. I have examined other marriage bonds from the same county in Virginia, and in some cases, they too contain this same type of attestation. Perhaps it is a case of an overly-cautious court official going above and beyond the strictures of the law.

This question of consent is one of the issues I hope to raise in class next week at the 2017 Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG). I am excited to have a week-long opportunity to learn from Barbara Vines Little, C.G., the highly regarded Virginia expert who is the coordinator and instructor for Virginia from the Colonial Period to the Civil War.

Sources:
1 Westmoreland County (Virginia). Clerk of the County Court, “Marriage bonds, licenses and ministers’ returns, 1772-1901”, Newton Mozingo-Elizabeth Smith Marriage Bond, no. 21-38 (1821), digital image, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89ZG-H3XX?mode=g : accessed 16 Jan 2017), image 411, imaged from FHL microfilm 007,490,279.
2 Westmoreland County (Virginia). Clerk of the County Court, “Marriage bonds, licenses and ministers’ returns, 1772-1901”, Elizabeth Smith consent, no. 21-38a (1821), digital image, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89ZG-H3XX?mode=g : accessed 16 Jan 2017), image 411, imaged from FHL microfilm 007,490,279.
3  William Waller Hening, The Statutes at Large: Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia from the First Session of the Legislature in the Year 1619, vol. 6 (Richmond: W. W. Gray, Printer, 1819), 81, chap. XXXII, “An act concerning Marriages.” October 1748—22nd George II”; HTML edition, Freddie L. Spradlin, transcriber, “Hening’s Statutes at Large,”  VAGenWeb (http://vagenweb.org/hening/vol06-04.htm#page_81 : accessed 16 Jan 2017).

New Jersey Digital Newspaper Project

In this installment of Web Sightings, we take a look at the New Jersey Digital Newspaper Project, one of the latest states to be brought into the fold of the larger National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP).

loc-ca-no-new-jersey-newspapers
There are no New Jersey digital newspapers included in the Chronicling America portal for the Library of Congress. That situation is about to change with the recent announcement.

I am excited to learn and share with you that New Jersey has been included in the latest round of National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant winners as part of the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP).1 New Jersey is one of the states that I spend much of my time researching online, and the Chronicling America project of the Library of Congress is a topic that I have lectured on and written about in the past, on this blog and elsewhere, so this is a welcome announcement indeed.

According to the Rutgers University blog the New Jersey Digital Newspaper Project is a joint collaboration with Rutgers University and the New Jersey State Library, along with the New Jersey State Archives in Trenton, three big holders of historical collections in the Garden State.

nj-digital-newspaper-project

The $186,204 grant will allow for the inclusion of at least 100,000 digitized pages from New Jersey’s historic newspapers published between 1836-1922.2 The advisory board is already hard at work determining which of the 450 available microfilmed newspaper titles meet the criteria for inclusion.3 That list has now apparently been winnowed down to 29 titles.4 I sure hope the early Trenton newspapers make the cut, and that the Hightstown Gazette is among the selections as well.

Students, educators, historians and genealogists alike will benefit from their efforts. When complete, free access to the New Jersey content will be through the Chronicling America website, which will augment the 11.5 million plus pages already available online.

In addition to New Jersey, other new states added to the mix in 2016 are Alaska, Colorado and Maine, bringing the total number of project partners to 44.

States not yet represented are: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Wyoming. The long-term goal is for all states and U.S. territories to be represented, in roughly 30 million total page views.5

Sources:
1 “2016 NDNP Awards Announced – Alaska, Colorado, Maine and New Jersey Join the Program,” Program News, posted 17 Aug 2016, National Digital Newspaper Program (http://www.loc.gov/ndnp/news/ : accessed 28 Dec 2016).
2 “Rutgers University Libraries Receives Grant to Digitize Important Historical New Jersey Newspapers,” Press Release posted 18 Aug 2016, New Jersey Digital Newspaper Project (https://blogs.libraries.rutgers.edu/njdnp/2016/08/18/njdnp-press-release/ : accessed 28 Dec 2016).
3 “Advisory Board and Newspaper Selection,” posted 21 Sep 2016, New Jersey Digital Newspaper Project (https://blogs.libraries.rutgers.edu/njdnp/2016/09/21/advisory-board-and-newspaper-selection/ : accessed 08 Jan 2017).
4 “Project Update: December 1, 2016,” posted 1 Dec 2016, New Jersey Digital Newspaper Project (https://blogs.libraries.rutgers.edu/njdnp/2016/12/01/project-update-december-1-2016/: accessed 08 Jan 2017).
5 Barbara Quint, “Chronicling America Service Offers Comprehensive Directory of U.S. Newspapers,” posted 26 Mar 2007, Information Today (http://newsbreaks.infotoday.com/NewsBreaks/Chronicling-America-Service-Offers-Comprehensive-Directory-of-US-Newspapers-35756.asp : accessed 08 Jan 2017).