New Texas Digital Archive launches

Okay, so the headline of today’s post is a little misleading.

The Legal Genealogist — daughter, granddaughter, and great granddaughter of Texans born and bred — really is well aware of many of the fabulous digitized resources for researching Texas history and genealogy. From the map collection at the Perry-Castañeda Library of the University of Texas at Austin to the Handbook of Texas Online at the Texas State Historical Association, there are some neat online Texas research portals.

But there’s a new one, and that’s big news!

TSLACThe Texas Digital Archive, an online offering of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC), has just launched online with “infrastructure needed to manage, preserve, and provide access to records of Texas state government agencies in a variety of digital formats.”1

What does that mean? It means online access to all kinds of records, both historic and governmental, of value to Texas researchers, limited now but ready to grow in the future:

In January, 2015, the TSLAC received approximately 7 TB of electronic records, along with 4000 cubic feet of paper records, from the administration of outgoing Governor Rick Perry (2000-2015). At the same time TSLAC has had a robust digitization program for the last decade generating over 150,000 digital files, including the conversion of 25,000 audio cassette tapes of the Texas Senate (from 1972-2006) producing 18 TB of digital audio files. TSLAC used this collection of electronic records and support from the Governor’s Office as the foundation of the Texas Digital Archive.2

The strongest piece of the Texas Digital Archive for genealogical researchers right now is the Prints and Photographs Collections, with more than 750,000 original images in a variety of processes and formats. These “relate to Texas history and important Texas figures or events. This includes construction of the various State Capitol buildings, documentation of Texas Governors and political leaders, Texas Rangers and military service in Texas, the geographically and culturally diverse regions of Texas and generations of Texas families and immigrants.”3

Portraits of people, photographs of buildings, street scenes, homes and events, even a collection of more than 1,400 postcards and picture postcards from southeast Texas make up the collections.

These aren’t all of the online collections of TSLAC, of course. Other online collections of value to genealogists include:

Civilian Conservation Corps Drawings: Searchable database to over 3,900 large-format drawings documenting park development and construction activities by the Civilian Conservation Corps in Texas from 1933-1958.

Fire Insurance Maps: Searchable database of fire insurance maps and/or Sanborn maps listed by the location mapped. The maps date from the mid-1920s to the 1970s.

Map Collection: Searchable database to original, photoreproduced, and compiled maps of Texas covering the period from the 17th-20th centuries.

Republic Claims: Searchable index of Comptroller’s records submitted by citizens to the Republic of Texas government from 1835 -1846, including claims for payment, reimbursement, or restitution. It also includes records relating to Republic pensions and claims against the Republic submitted as public debt claims after 1846.

Republic of Texas Passports: Alphabetical listing with images of records relating to individual passport files in the Republic of Texas, including requests for passports, orders to issue passports, and one proclamation granting entrance to the Republic.

Texas Adjutant General Service Records, 1836-1935: The Service Records series combines both official service record files from the Adjutant General’s Office and alphabetical files created by other agencies that contain records related to an individual’s service in a military unit. The information contained in an individual’s file varies considerably.

So check out the new Texas Digital Archive and all of the online resources of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.


SOURCES

Image: First Capitol Built by the Republic. Austin, Texas. 1893- [1852]. Drawing by Ilse. Prints and Photographs Collection, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

  1. About the Texas Digital Archive (TDA),” Texas Digital Archive (https://tsl.access.preservica.com/ : accessed 21 Jan 2016).
  2. Ibid.
  3. Prints and Photographs Collections,” Texas Digital Archive (https://tsl.access.preservica.com/ : accessed 21 Jan 2016).
Posted in General, Resources | 5 Comments

Yes, really, free is free

Every so often, The Legal Genealogist is confident, the planets align, the stars twinkle just so, the sun kicks off solar flares of some intensity — and the internet goes complete crazy.

You’ve seen this, I’m sure, at one time or another, with some piece of utter misinformation that just can’t seem to be stamped out.

And this week the piece of utter misinformation that I’m dealing with is that Fold3.com will charge to get to the War of 1812 pension files we’re all crowdsourcing through the Preserve the Pensions project.

Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.

The records are free.

There’s no subscription charge.

The records will always be free.

You will never need to subscribe to Fold3 or Ancestry or any other pay service of any kind to access the War of 1812 pension files.

Free here means free.

Really.

Here’s all you have to do to get to the War of 1812 pension files absolutely free:

Click on this link: https://fold3.com/browse/247/h5iT6dgqR.

That’s it, folks. That’ll open up the menu you see below and you can choose any state — or even search for a specific name within the database. All absolutely positively free.

1812-1

Once you locate a file you want to look at, say, for Pumphrey Davenport of Virginia, you will see that that individual file also has an indication on it — it’s free.

1812-2

Go right ahead and click on the record description, and you’ll be able to look at and download every single document in the file — free.

1812-3

In fact, there are a lot of databases on Fold3 that are free. If you’d like to check them out, here are the steps:

1. Head on over to Fold3.com and its browse records page: https://fold3.com/browse/

2. Choose any entry in the category list, from All Titles right down to Non-military Records.

3. A menu will open up to the right of the category list, and any database that is free will have the word Free next to the database name.

So… with luck the planets are now aligned, the stars twinkling just so, the sun flaring benignly and we can all go back to contentedly browsing the War of 1812 pension files on Fold3.com — absolutely positively free.

Really.

Posted in General | 8 Comments

And the question of the children

In the middle of the 18th century, a young man from Germany named Jacob Snyder (probably Schneider originally) came to America to make his fortune. Family researchers said he came over as an indentured servant, served his seven years, married… and then died at around the age of 27, leaving a widow with three young children.

PaSLHe didn’t leave a will when he died there in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and reader Marcia Snyder only had transcriptions of the Orphan’s Court records of his estate showing that his widow Christiana had served as the administratrix.1

They showed that, by 1760, the widow had accounted to the court for 148 pounds, 18 shillings and six pence in her hands — and the court had awarded half to her and half to the deceased’s surviving siblings: a brother and sister back in Germany and a sister (and her husband) in Pennsylvania.2 The final payment order was in 1765.3

The language used was one moiety to the widow and one moiety to the brother and sisters, and we all know what a moiety is, right? It’s simply an equal share — in this case, one half.4

Marcia couldn’t understand why a probate court in colonial Pennsylvania could have done such a thing: how could that court have taken half of this estate away from this widow with her three young children?

The answer of course lies in the law. And the law raises a fundamental question about this family that Marcia and other Snyder researchers are going to have to address.

Pennsylvania law on intestate estates — estates where the deceased left no will5 — for this time period begins with the act of 12 January 1705-06, a statute for the “Better settling of intestates’ estates.” That law clearly and unequivocally said that where the deceased left a widow and children, the widow would receive one-third after the debts of the estate were paid, and the children or their legal representatives would divide the other two-thirds equally among themselves.6

And then the statute went on to the critical language for Marcia and her fellow Snyder researchers:

And in case there be no children nor any legal representatives of them, then one moiety of the said estate to be allotted to the wife of the intestate, and the residue of the said estate to be distributed equally to every of the next kindred of the estate who are in equal degree…7

The law was amended twice after 1705: once in 1748-498 and once in 1764.9 Neither of those amendments changed the provision at issue here.

You see the issue right away, don’t you?

Yes, Jacob Snyder left a widow.

But Jacob Snyder — at least according to this court — didn’t leave any children. The division of the estate ordered by the court here could only have been ordered “in case there be no children.”

No matter what’s been passed down through family researchers, there is now specific evidence that the children of the widow were her children — but not his.

This is why we look at the law in the time and the place.

Because sometimes the law itself gives us clues to family structure we can’t get in any other way.

And here it’s telling us to look again at the relationships in this family. Because, according to the law, the Widow Snyder’s children weren’t Snyders at all.

Back to the drawing board for this family’s research…


SOURCES

  1. The feminine version of administrator. See Henry Campbell Black, A Dictionary of Law (St. Paul, Minn. : West, 1891), 40, “administratrix.”
  2. Lancaster County, Pa., Miscellaneous Book 1760-1763, p. 7; Orphans Court, 2 Sep 1760; transcription provided by Lancaster County Archives.
  3. Lancaster County, Pa., Miscellaneous Book 1763-1767, p. 151; Orphans Court, 10 May 1765; transcription provided by Lancaster County Archives.
  4. See Black, A Dictionary of Law, 784, “moiety.” See also Judy G. Russell, “Moiety,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 2 Jan 2012 (http://www.legalgenealogist.com/blog : accessed 19 Jan 2016).
  5. Black, A Dictionary of Law, 640, “intestate.”
  6. “Better settling of intestates’ estates,” Act of 12 Jan 1705-06, 2 St.L. 199, 201, Ch. 135, in The Statutes at Large of Pennsylvania from 1682 to 1809, 18 vols. (Harrisburg : State Printer, 1896-1915), 1: 199 et seq.; digital images, Pennsylvania Session Laws, Pennsylvania Legislative Research Bureau (http://www.palrb.us/default.php : accessed 19 Jan 2016).
  7. Ibid., at 201-202.
  8. “Amending the laws relating to the partition and distribution of intestates’ estates,” Act of 24 Feb 1748-49, 5 St.L. 62, Ch. 374.
  9. “Supplement to the act entitled ‘An act for the better settling intestates’ estates’ and for repealing one other act entitled ‘An act for amending the laws relating to the partition and distribution of intestates’ estates,’” Act of 23 March 1764, 6 St.L. 339, Ch. 512.
Posted in Legal definitions, Methodology, Statutes | 1 Comment

Getting there for the pensions

How much is a million?

It’s awfully hard to wrap our heads around a number like that if we’re ordinary people — people who, like The Legal Genealogist, tend to think of numbers of things in terms of one, two, three, many.

We can try to analogize it in different ways.

If we’re talking about miles, well, that’s about four times as far as it is from the Earth to the moon.

If we’re talking about seconds, well, that’s about 277.76 hours — or about 11.6 days.

If we’re talking about dollars, well, that’s one heck of a lot of cash.

And when we talk about two million dollars, we’re talking about a major milestone on the way to preserving every last page of the fragile and genealogically valuable War of 1812 pension records held by the National Archives.

And that’s the milestone that the Preserve the Pensions effort hit as we brought 2015 to a close and entered 2016.

This crowdsourcing effort to protect roughly 7.2 million pages of pension records is a wonderful project, spearheaded by the Federation of Genealogical Societies. It’s a long-haul proposition that involves extraordinary efforts by many people. Out of every dollar raised, 98 cents is spent on the digitization efforts: not for overhead, not for salaries. Directly for turning these marvelous documents into digital images for us all to see.

Once a document is digitized through the Preserve the Pensions project, it gets posted online at Fold3.com where it is, and will always be, free for anyone to access. Free. No subscription cost at all. Right now, records for pensioners with surnames A through M are already online at Fold3, free for us all to see.

And what do we see in these records? Rich details of military service, original records evidencing births, marriages and deaths — in short, some of the most amazing genealogical treasures that our National Archives has to offer. They are so valuable genealogically that they’re among the most requested records the Archives has — and that makes them among the most fragile and the most in need of digitization and preservation.

Every dollar raised by Preserve the Pensions protects a little more than two pages of a pension file — and that dollar then gets matched by Ancestry. “We are deeply appreciative of so many within the family history community who continue to support the Preserve the Pensions project,” says D. Joshua Taylor, FGS President. “This important milestone is the start of the ‘homestretch’ and is evidence of the passion and commitment amongst genealogists to preserve records for the future.”

That passion and commitment has brought Preserve the Pensions more than halfway to the goal of protecting every single page of every single pension file.

We can pause at this moment, take a deep breath and take stock: two million dollars raised.

Wow.

Now… to double down and get the rest of it done. There’s still a long way to go to get the records from N through Z finished and online for us all.

Preserve the Pensions.

Posted in General | 5 Comments

IGHR registration info

Mistake Concepts, With Oops Message On Keyboard.The post (or email) earlier today on registration times for the 2016 Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research in June 2016 had a major error — a whole set of registration info was deleted.

Classes with registration starting at 11 a.m. Eastern were omitted, and classes with registration starting at 11:30 were tossed into the 11 a.m. category.

In other words, BIG mistake!

So The Legal Genealogist sends out this rare double-post-in-a-single-day to correct the mistake and hopefully reach anyone who might have gotten the wrong info.

Here are the CORRECTED registration times for IGHR registration on Tuesday, January 19:

Opening at 8 a.m. PST, 9 a.m. MST, 10 a.m. CST, 11 a.m. EST:

Course 1. Methods and Sources

Course 10. Researching African American Genealogy: Black Roots in Unique Collections

Opening at 8:30 a.m. PST, 9:30 a.m. MST, 10:30 a.m. CST, 11:30 a.m. EST:

Course 2. Intermediate Genealogy & Historical Studies

Course 9. Advanced Library Research: Law Libraries & Government Documents

Opening at 9 a.m. PST, 10 a.m. MST, 11 a.m. CST, noon EST:

Course 3. Advanced Methodology & Evidence Analysis

Course 4. Writing & Publishing for Genealogists

Course 5. Military Records III: Post Civil War

Opening at 9:30 a.m. PST, 10:30 a.m. MST, 11:30 a.m. CST, 12:30 p.m. EST:

Course 6. Tracing Your English Ancestors

Course 7. Metes & Bounds & Land Plats

Course 8. Genetic Genealogy Tools & Techniques

Sorry… And remember: much more info is available online at the IGHR website generally, through a special IGHR 101 page, and there’s an online guide What is IGHR? there as well.

Posted in General | Leave a comment

You snooze, you lose

Wake up!

There isn’t a single moment to waste!

206_clock_arc_6It’s down-to-the-wire-nail-biting-mouse-hand-warming-up-get-ready time.

Because tomorrow, Tuesday, January 19th, is the Big Day if you’re hoping to get in on an unparalleled opportunity for genealogical education and fun.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, January 19th, is registration day for the 2016 Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR) at Samford University, Birmingham, Alabama, June 12-17 this year.

And, remember, this is the last time IGHR will be held at Samford — the Institute moves in 2017 to new digs at the University in Georgia at Athens (info on the relocation is here) — so what is already a tough competition for available seats is bound to be even tougher this year as folks vie for a chance to say goodbye to Samford as well as to gain new knowledge and new skills.

The Legal Genealogist will be back at IGHR this summer, both learning and teaching (I’m the coordinator for the Advanced Methodology and Evidence Analysis course). And I hope to see a lot of friends — old and new — during the week.

But I’ll see you there only if you get up early tomorrow and get ready to register.

All IGHR class sizes are limited and REGISTRATION FILLS UP FAST. If you want to go, be prepared to start trying to register right when registration for the class you want opens and to keep trying. Note that Advanced Methodology and Evidence Analysis has prerequisites and all students will be housed off-campus this year.

Here are the CORRECTED registration times:

Opening at 8 a.m. PST, 9 a.m. MST, 10 a.m. CST, 11 a.m. EST:

Course 1. Methods and Sources

Course 10. Researching African American Genealogy: Black Roots in Unique Collections

Opening at 8:30 a.m. PST, 9:30 a.m. MST, 10:30 a.m. CST, 11:30 a.m. EST:

Course 2. Intermediate Genealogy & Historical Studies

Course 9. Advanced Library Research: Law Libraries & Government Documents

Opening at 9 a.m. PST, 10 a.m. MST, 11 a.m. CST, noon EST:

Course 3. Advanced Methodology & Evidence Analysis

Course 4. Writing & Publishing for Genealogists

Course 5. Military Records III: Post Civil War

Opening at 9:30 a.m. PST, 10:30 a.m. MST, 11:30 a.m. CST, 12:30 p.m. EST:

Course 6. Tracing Your English Ancestors

Course 7. Metes & Bounds & Land Plats

Course 8. Genetic Genealogy Tools & Techniques

The IGHR 101 page has been updated with video guides on how to register as well as how to submit a course wait list request. There’s a downloadable guide to registration available online so you can understand the process in advance and be ready to go. Fill out the info ahead of time and then copy/paste into the appropriate fields as you go through the registration process.

Much more info is available online at the IGHR website generally, through a special IGHR 101 page, and there’s an online guide What is IGHR? there as well.

So don’t sleep in tomorrow morning. Hope to see you in Birmingham in June!

Posted in General | Leave a comment

IGHR registration Tuesday January 19th

It’s hard to believe that today is already the last day of the 2016 Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. Five full days — 20 solid sessions — of in-depth genealogical learning, sharing, and even fun with many many like-minded people.

The Legal Genealogist has had an absolute ball this week. Not only have I had a wonderful class of students for Corpus Juris: Advanced Legal Concepts for Genealogy, but I’ve been privileged to be part of other courses as well: Researching New York: Resources and Strategies; Advanced Research Tools: Land Records; Advanced DNA Analysis Techniques For Genealogical Research; and Advanced Genealogical Methods. Being able to teach alongside folks like Thomas W. Jones, Angie Bush, Karen Mauer Jones, Rick and Pam Sayre… it’s been amazing.

So… have you been sitting there all week, watching the posts and the photos and slowly, steadily, turning green?

Then listen up. The word of the day today is:

Register.

IGHROn Tuesday. January 19th. For the 2016 Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, to be held June 12-17.

It’s yet another week-long opportunity for in-depth genealogical learning, sharing, and even fun with many many like-minded people.

This year’s IGHR will be a little bittersweet. It offers the same terrific line-up of courses and instructors as it’s had in the past… but this will be the last IGHR at Samford itself. Next year, in 2017, the Institute moves to the University of Georgia at Athens. So there’s bound to be a lot of competition for every seat in every class at this last-ever Samford-based IGHR. That means acting fast will be critical if you want to attend.

Let me repeat that in a different way:

All IGHR class sizes are limited and REGISTRATION FILLS UP FAST. If you want to go, be prepared to start trying to register right when registration for the class you want opens and to keep trying. Note that Advanced Methodology and Evidence Analysis has prerequisites and all students will be housed off-campus this year.

Registration information can be found here, the overall IGHR website is here and information on individual courses can be found here.

As usual, registration is staggered, so pay attention to the opening time for the course you want and be prepared to act fast.

Opening at 8 a.m. PST, 9 a.m. MST, 10 a.m. CST, 11 a.m. EST:

Course 1. Methods and Sources

Course 10. Researching African American Genealogy: Black Roots in Unique Collections

Opening at 8 a.m. PST, 9 a.m. MST, 10 a.m. CST, 11 a.m. EST:

Course 2. Intermediate Genealogy & Historical Studies

Course 9. Advanced Library Research: Law Libraries & Government Documents

Opening at 9 a.m. PST, 10 a.m. MST, 11 a.m. CST, noon EST:

Course 3. Advanced Methodology & Evidence Analysis

Course 4. Writing & Publishing for Genealogists

Course 5. Military Records III: Post Civil War

Opening at 9:30 a.m. PST, 10:30 a.m. MST, 11:30 a.m. CST, 12:30 p.m. EST:

Course 6. Tracing Your English Ancestors

Course 7. Metes & Bounds & Land Plats

Course 8. Genetic Genealogy Tools & Techniques

This year’s SLIG is just about in the bag. But there are other opportunities to get rid of that genealogy-education-envy you’ve been suffering…

Posted in General | 1 Comment

No joke under English law

Day three of the 2016 Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy wrapped up yesterday at the Salt Lake Hilton, and for The Legal Genealogist it was a day of law, law and more law.

Just KiddingIn Corpus Juris: Advanced Legal Concepts for Genealogy, it was a day of family law: everything from the law of marriage to the law of filiation. In Advanced Genealogical Methods, it was a look at how to bring law to bear on complex genealogical questions. And in Researching New York: Resources and Strategies, it was an in-depth look at the records of New York courts from the earliest colonial times through to modern records.

A full day for sure — and like others this week not one leaving much time for writing.

So here’s another word of the day.

Kidder.

According to the law dictionaries, a kidder was “an engrosser of corn to enhance its price.”1

Well, that sure makes it clear, doesn’t it?

No?

Okay.

Does it help to know that engrossing was trying to corner the market on corn or some other necessary foodstuff with the aim of gouging the buyers — and it was a crime?2

So if you’re just kidding about the value of your corn, you’re committing a common law crime.

Just kidding, of course.


SOURCES

  1. Henry Campbell Black, A Dictionary of Law (St. Paul, Minn. : West, 1891), 678, “kidder.”
  2. Ibid., 421, “engrossing.”
Posted in Legal definitions | Leave a comment

Call for NGS Jacobus award nominations

This is SLIG week for The Legal Genealogist — the the 2016 Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy is now starting its third day at the Salt Lake Hilton, and everyone is having a ball.

Ballot_box_current.svgMore than 360 students in a dozen classes learning about everything from law to DNA to research in different locations like New York or the south to church records and genealogical writing. How much better does it get than that?

Yesterday was a terrific second day. In my new course, Corpus Juris: Advanced Legal Concepts for Genealogists, the students got a field trip to the University of Utah under the expert guidance of law librarian Lee Warthen — and most came away with confidence that they could use the law library records in the future.

Today, we’re on into family law and some hands on exercises with records and statutory materials.

And this all makes for very little time for writing. So this week is the word-of-the-day week, and today’s word is a little different. It’s nominate. As in: your genealogical or historical society can nominate a candidate for the National Genealogical Society’s Donald Lines Jacobus award. The deadline is January 31.

Here’s the information:

Since 1986 when Donald Lines Jacobus became the first genealogist elected to the National Genealogy Hall of Fame, thirty outstanding genealogists have been recognized for their contributions to their local, state or national societies, or simply to the greater genealogical community. The 2016 honoree will join this select group of distinguished members, and the winner, and the society that honored the nominee, will be announced in May at the NGS 2016 Family History Conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

This is an opportunity for your society to honor a genealogist whose efforts or legacy projects have helped genealogists today. Perhaps there was a notable genealogist in your state or county whose name should be memorialized in the National Genealogy Hall of Fame.

If your society’s nomination is the winner, your nominee will receive national exposure for their contributions to the field.

A nominee must have been actively engaged in genealogy in the United States for at least ten years, been deceased for at least five years at the time of nomination, and made contributions to the field of genealogy judged to be of lasting significance in ways that were unique, pioneering, or exemplary.

Nominations for election to the National Genealogy Hall of Fame are due by 31 January 2016. Official nomination forms are available from our website, www.ngsgenealogy.org, Awards & Competitions, or by contacting the National Genealogical Society, 3108 Columbia Pike, Suite 300, Arlington, VA 22204-4304; phone 1-800-473-0060.

Think about it. And if your genealogical or historical society knows of a worthy candidate, well, the word of the day is… nominate.

Posted in General | Leave a comment

Word of the day: Zetetick

Yesterday was a fabulous first day at the 2016 Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy — enthusiastic engaged students in every room of the Downtown Salt Lake Hilton learning about the law, and DNA, and land research, and church records and so much more.

BlacksThe Legal Genealogist is privileged to be coordinating the course in advanced legal concepts, and yesterday also had guest appearances (so to speak) in the advanced DNA course (a case study) and the advanced land class (the law of the land) — and it’s just so much fun.

And it’s going to be hard to beat the plenary session last night by Rev. Dr. David McDonald — RevDave to his friends — who gave a rousing and hilarious talk on thinking genealogically.

But the schedule for the week is daunting, and time for writing hard to find. So to keep the dust devils at bay, here we go: the word of the day.

Zetetick.

No, I did not make it up.

You can look it up if you’d like.

According to Black’s Law Dictionary, it means “proceeding by inquiry.”1

Yeah, I know.

I didn’t find that all that useful either.

If you look it up in modern dictionaries, it simply says it’s an archaic form of zetetic.2 And looking up zetetic, it says it’s either an adjective (seeking; proceeding by inquiry) or a noun (a skeptic).3

Which, I suppose, since every one of the definitions says the word use is rare, is about as good as we’re going to get

At least when — in the law — we go on beyond zebra.


SOURCES

  1. Henry Campbell Black, A Dictionary of Law (St. Paul, Minn. : West, 1891), 1253, “zetetick.”
  2. See e.g. Your Dictionary (http://www.yourdictionary.com : accessed 11 Jan 2016), “zetetick.”
  3. Ibid., “zetetic.”
Posted in Legal definitions | 2 Comments