Virginia Ancestry




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Vic is available for the following lectures:


General Methodology and Sources:


Title: Beating the Odds: Using Indirect Evidence in Problem Solving

Target Audience:  Intermediate

Description: Lecture discusses types of evidence and how to evaluate. Indirect evidence is presented as an alternative to direct evidence solutions either by linking to other family members or based solely on circumstantial evidence.  Compiling logical proof arguments is briefly discussed.


Title: Burned County Research Methodology

Target Audience:  Intermediate.

Description: Lecture discusses the effective use of surviving county records and then focuses on Federal and state records that provide genealogical information such as military, pensions, Southern Claims, Serial Set and state land grants that help fill in research gaps.  Non-Government sources such as church records, manuscripts, cemetery records and local histories are also reviewed.


Title:  Confederate Civilian Records

Target Audience: Intermediate.

Description:  Following the Civil War, a number of claims were filed by southern citizens for property damage.  As a result of these claims, a number of records of Confederate civilians were preserved and are available at the National Archives.  These sources can provide excellent biographical and genealogical information on non-combatant ancestors both pro-Confederate and pro-Union.  Records discussed include Union Provost Marshall's Files, Confederate Quartermaster General's Department Records, Confederate Papers Relating to Citizens or Business Firms and the Southern Claims Commission.


Title: Deed Books: More Than Just Land Records

Target Audience:  Intermediate

Description: Genealogical information found in real estate deeds discussed as well as the different types of deeds and their implications for genealogists. Other miscellaneous items recorded in deed books such as powers of attorney, deeds of trust, surveys, slave manumissions, slave sales and distributions, and heir releases are examined.


Title:  Efficient and Effective On-Site Research Strategies

Target Audience: All levels

Description: Do I need to make a photocopy or not?  Learn how to make the most of your time on a research trip to a courthouse, library or other repository from a full-time professional genealogist.  Pre-trip planning and use of electronics are discussed.


Title:  Finding your Ancestors in Local Histories

Target Audience:  Beginning to intermediate.

Description:  Focuses on research strategies for locating ancestral biographical and genealogical information in local histories published in the United States between 1880-1920.  Myriad examples demonstrate methods of verifying the data.  Repositories, indexes and electronic databases are examined.


Title:  Getting the Most from Court Records:  Order Books, Minute Books & Associated Loose Papers

Target Audience:   Intermediate to advanced.

Description:  Was your ancestor illegitimate, a "gentleman justice" of the court, a horse thief, or an insolvent debtor? Court records may provide answers and connect generations. Lecture examines the important genealogical and biographical information found in county court records which is often not found in other court documents such as probate and land documents.  Focuses on locating and accessing records along with search strategies.  Chancery (aka equity), common law and criminal records are discussed along with the various types of information that may be found in often overlooked loose papers.


Title: How Old Was Grandpa? Estimating Ancestral Birth Dates

Target Audience:  Intermediate.

Description: Determining an approximate birth date may be essential to identifying ancestors. Useful methods to calculate age when no birth record is available are examined. Lecture will examine alternative sources for estimating ages such as the pre-1850 censuses, tax lists, guardianship records and clues found in probate records. Emphasis will be placed on understanding the law and how it affected minors and their ability to contract and serve as witnesses.


Title: I Rest My Case: Constructing a Convincing Proof Argument

Target Audience:   Intermediate to Advanced.

Description: This session explains the difference between proof summaries and proof arguments and examines which type of presentation is appropriate based on research findings. Session examples will explain how to write convincing arguments.


Title:  Land Platting and DeedMapper

Target Audience: Intermediate.

Description: This double session explains the benefits of land platting in problem solving.  It demonstrates manual land platting and then shows how DeedMapper software can be utilized to plat land and reconstruct ancestral neighborhoods.  Advanced features of DeedMapper including adding plats to historic maps and overlaying on Google Earth are also discussed.


Title: Magic in Manuscripts and Business Records

Target Audience: Intermediate.

Description:  Manuscripts can provide a wealth of genealogical and biographical data.  Types of manuscripts such as personal papers and genealogists' records are explored as are business sources such as merchant records, physician records and lawyer's ledgers. Methods of locating and accessing the records such as NUCMC and other databases and guides are discussed.


Title: Newspaper Research - More than Deaths and Marriages

Target Audience: Intermediate.

Description: Local newspapers contain a hidden treasure of genealogical information beyond obituaries, marriage notices and birth announcements.  Learn how to put your ancestors in social context and solve brick-walls. Published estate data, court suits, "letters at the post office," political and civic affiliations are examined.  Local news or gossip sections are discussed for their use in identifying family members.  Access via local and state libraries or historical societies, Library of Congress as well as on-line sources is explored.


Title:  The Research Process

Target Audience: Intermediate to advanced.

Description:  Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) Standards offer guides for the way we should conduct our work. This overview will demonstrate using standards in research, reporting, and problem solving.  Specifically examines using the standards in problem definition, analysis, formulating research plans, the research process and reporting for personal and client research.  Emphasis on efficiency is stressed and specific examples are discussed.


Title:  Solving Problems with Tax Records

Target Audience: Intermediate.

Description: When other sources fail, tax lists often provide resolution to same name scenarios, direct or indirect evidence of family relationships, estimated birth and death dates, proof of migration and place ancestors in social context.  Learn how to effectively use these records.


Title:  Statistically Speaking - the Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Vital Record Research

Target Audience: Beginner.

Description: How do I obtain great-grandma's death certificate and how do I know the information is correct?  Learn how to access and analyze vital records for veracity and find additional sources to extend ancestral lines. Sample documents are reviewed for each piece of information with focus on how to analyze and determine additional sources that may be available.  The pitfalls of registers vs. actual documents are examined.  Discusses evaluation of information and how incorrect data can be used to identify valid genealogical information. 


Title:  Using Associates and Collaterals to Extend Ancestral Lines:  James and Hannah Dunn of Pennsylvania and Virginia.

Target Audience:  Intermediate to advanced.

Description:  A case study of records of associates and collaterals of a family illustrate the use of information to determine migration and establish a family unit. The lecture focuses on the methodology used in "Reconstructing Parents from Indirect Evidence:  Robert Dunn of Frederick County, Virginia" which was published in the September 2006 edition of National Genealogical Society Quarterly.  Potential record sources naming associates and collaterals are also discussed.



 Virginia Methodology and Sources:



Title: Before Virginia: Finding the Origins of Colonial Immigrants

Target Audience:  All Levels

Description: Determining a Virginian immigrant's origins can be a challenge.  Find out what sources and techniques are available.


Title:  Colonial Migrations In and Out of the Shenandoah Valley

Target Audience: Intermediate.

Description:  Before migrating to the Carolinas or westward, many Scotch-Irish, English and Germans first came down through the Valley on the Great Wagon Road.  This lecture examines the ethnic and religious groups who traveled from the Northern states as well as eastern Virginians who crossed the Blue Ridge into the Valley.  County-by-county origins are examined.


Title:  Deeds, Surveys, Land Books, and Other Records.

Target Audience: Beginning to intermediate.

Description: Research in land records is essential in solving Virginia genealogical research problems. Explore the records that are available including little known sources that may provide the key to solving your problem.


Title:  In Chancery: Using Court Papers to Add to and Enhance Your Pedigree.

Target Audience: Intermediate.

Description: Chancery, also known as equity, court records are often overlooked by researchers, but they can provide a wealth of genealogical and biographical data on your ancestors, and occasionally add multiple generations to your family tree.


Title: In the Beginning: Tidewater Settlement

Target Audience:  All.

Description: From the settlement of Jamestown in 1607, Virginians began claiming land throughout the Tidewater region. Learn migration patterns and their effect on research.


Title: Lands from the Crown: Records of the Colonial Land Office

Target Audience:  Beginner to Intermediate

Description: Virginia's early land patents contain a wealth of genealogical data. Learn how to locate and interpret these records as well as identify immigrant ancestors through headrights.


Title:  The Law of the Land: Inheritance in Early Virginia

Target Audience: Intermediate to advanced.

Description: Understanding colonial law, basically modified British common law, and the changes brought by the Revolution may help resolve ancestral issues. Primogeniture and entailment are explained.


Title:  Out of State, Out of Mind? Finding the Answers in Virginia's Neighbor's Records

Target Audience:   Intermediate.

Description:  Virginia and West Virginia share borders with a number of neighbors: Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Washington, D.C.  Often the borders are artificial boundaries resolved after years of disputes.  In other cases, natural boundaries such as the Ohio and Potomac rivers and Chesapeake Bay could be easily accessed.  This lecture focuses on a number of records of Virginians that were created outside the state. Records included newspapers, marriages, church, probate, court and others. Specific geographical situations where Virginians migrated out of the state and back are discussed.


Title: Planning a successful Virginia Research Trip

Target Audience:  All levels.

Description: Before heading to the Old Dominion, determine how to prepare for your trip and where to go when you arrive. Online websites are explored such as sources and finding aids for the Library of Virginia, Virginia Tax List Club and other online indexes are discussed. Sources available through interlibrary loan are examined as well as major Virginia research repositories.


Title: The Probate Process in Early Virginia

Target Audience:  Intermediate

Description: Whether your ancestor died testate or intestate, he may have left probate records. Learn how to locate and interpret these records as well as identify other associated genealogical records.


Title:  Records of the Northern Neck Proprietary

Target Audience:   Intermediate.

Description:  Also known as the Fairfax Proprietary, this area consists of over 5 million acres in present day Northern Virginia and West Virginia including the northern section of the Shenandoah Valley.  This lecture discusses information found in warrants, surveys and grants which is frequently rich in genealogical and biographical data.  Discussion also focuses on other manuscript records largely overlooked by researchers such as correspondence, rent rolls and proprietary leases.


Title: Sacred Sources: Virginia Church and Bible Records

Target Audience:   Beginner to intermediate.

Description:  Pre and post-colonial Virginia church records can provide a wealth of information, particularly when court records are lost.  Focus is on identifying the major religious groups and accessing their surviving records. Virginia's vast collection of Bible records available to the public are also examined.


Title: The Scotch-Irish from Pennsylvania Through Virginia and the Carolinas

Target Audience:   Beginner to intermediate.

Description: After settling in Pennsylvania in the early eighteenth century, these elusive ancestors began migrating southward into Virginia and the Carolinas. Focus is on the migration from Pennsylvania and later directly from Ireland to Virginia.  Migration out of Virginia is also discussed as are settlement patterns throughout the Valley and Southside Virginia.  While methods of locating land owing ancestors are discussed, much focus is placed on identifying non-land-owning ancestors through court records and manuscript sources.


Title: Virginia Geography 101

Target Audience:  All.

Description: Examine Virginia's geographical regions from the Coastal Plains to the Appalachian Plateau. Focus is on how the state's landscape such as rivers and mountains determined settlement patterns.


Title: Virginia's Manuscript Records On-site, On Film and Online

Target Audience:  All.

Description: Learn what records and indexes are available and can be examined prior to your Virginia research trip and discover repositories to visit once you arrive in Virginia.


Title: Virginia Research 101

Target Audience:  Beginning to Intermediate

Description: Session highlights the county, state and Federal records useful for Virginia research along with a brief mention of strategies to work around burned counties. Miscellaneous sources such as newspapers, Bible and business records also discussed as are major Virginia repositories and websites.


Title:  Westward Bound - Settlement Beyond Tidewater

Target Audience:  All levels.

Description: As tobacco exhausted the tidewater lands, Virginians moved westward. Discover where they settled and the records they created.


Title:  Women, Children, Aliens and Servants: The Law in Early Virginia.

Target Audience:  Intermediate.

Description: Learn what laws affected these individuals and how to interpret the records they are found in.