2014 Finding and Documenting African-American Families


(Offered in Pittsburgh only)

Coordinators: J. Mark Lowe, CG, FUGA and Debbie A. Abbott, Ph.D.

Discovering evidence of African American families can be difficult and sometimes impossible.  Learn to follow proven strategies to gather and analyze a variety of record types while building upon strong foundations.  We will use a framework of five cases to illustrate how to apply the evidence in each particular case.  Records will require hands-on project discovery time.

Monday – July 21, 2014

8:15 a.m.: Strategies for Gathering Family Stories & Oral Histories (Abbott & Lowe)
Discover the methods and strategies for collecting family stories.  Learn to use visual techniques and off beat questions to dig deeper.

10:00 a.m.: Analyzing (Abbott & Lowe)
Finding answers from records require careful analysis.  Understand this important process, how it works and why it is a major step to finding your ancestors.

12:45 p.m.: Documenting (Abbott & Lowe)
Stay on track with your research and findings.  Basic documentation skills are essential with family research.

2:30 p.m.: Compiling (Abbott & Lowe)
Tying families together with stories, records, traditions, photographs, etc., requires a standard compilation. Learn the genealogical styles, formats and standards required to master this process.

Tuesday – July 22, 2014

8:15 a.m.: Research Planning (Lowe)
Good research requires a well-developed advanced plan.  Learn the steps and requirements for developing successful plans.

10:00 a.m.: Alternative to Vital Records (Abbott)
When the vital records are not available, where do you turn for answers?  We will discover the options and most reliable resources.

12:45 p.m.: Landless Individuals (Lowe)
Finding families who did not own land requires the use of mortgages, agricultural liens and sharecropping agreements.  Learn how to connect people and land through other sources.

2:30 p.m.: Slaves and Free People of Color (Abbott)
What is the proper definition of slaves, bondservants and free people?  Setting the words and discovering the status of people, family and their social standing is crucial.  We will explore the record types, research techniques and the importance of understanding various state laws and the effects they have on the type of records that were created.

3:45 p.m.: Workshop / Discussion

Wednesday – July 23, 2014

8:15 a.m.: Manuscripts (Part I – Abbott)
Letters, photographs, legal documents, journals and more may be available to share information about your family history.  We will discuss the types of records available and how to find those pesky manuscripts.

10:00 a.m.: Manuscripts (Part II – Abbott)
This is a continuation of Manuscripts – Part I.  We will concentrate on online manuscript collections, and how to use the resources and finding aides  found in libraries and archives across the nation.

12:45 p.m.: Wills & Estates (Lowe)
When an individual dies the documents found about their possessions and distribution form a framework of understanding the families involved in the community.  Discovering the variety of documents and where they might be found will be the basis of beginning.

2:30 p.m.: Land Records (Lowe)
For many families, land was a major goal.  Learn how to find locations, purchases, loans, and taxation for those connected to the land.

3:45 p.m.: Workshop / Discussion

Thursday – July 24, 2014

8:15 a.m.: Court Records (Part I – Abbott)
Court records (both criminal & civil), often reveal issues with families & neighbors. Learn about the basics of court organization and how to find and locate cases.

10:00 a.m.: Court Records (Part II – Lowe)
This will be a continuation of Court Records – Part II.  It will focus more on finding both criminal & civil cases found in local courthouses.

12:45 p.m.: Essential Military Records (Lowe)
Military service and organizational records may shed light on your family or their connections.  Learn how to use these records effectively.

2:30 p.m.: Further  Record Analysis and Research (Abbott)
Research and planning should be interspersed with deeper analysis.  Join us and we see a variety of opportunity for digging deeper and finding out more.

3:45 p.m.: Workshop / Discussion

Friday – July 25, 2014

8:15 a.m.: Lighting the Pathways & Planning for Discovery (Abbott & Lowe)
Illuminating our directions and highlighting our future discovery should be a part of our efforts. Help us wrap up our stories and determine our next actions.

10:00 a.m.: Wrap Up – Solutions (Abbott & Lowe)
We will enjoy our success and recognize our efforts, while remembering to plan for tomorrow.

11:15 a.m.: Course Wrap-up and Certificates before Lunch