2015 Law School for Genealogists

Law School for Genealogists

Coordinators: Judy G. Russell, J.D., CG, CGL and Richard “Rick” G. Sayre, CG, CGL

Additional instructor: Marian L. Smith

Overall  Course  Objective: Students will acquire an understanding of various domains of law relevant to genealogical research. Students will study specific domains of the law and learn to use resources created by legal processes and other government actions.

NOTE: The following topics will be covered during the eighteen sessions during the week. Order subject to change.

MONDAY, July 20

8:30  a.m.:  Freshman  Orientation  (Russell)

Introduction, course outline, and overview of the legal systems affecting genealogy (common, civil, canon and statutory law).

10:15  a.m.:  Courts  101:  Federal  Courts  and  their  Records  (Russell)

From the original 13 U.S. District Courts created by the Judiciary Act of 1789 to the multi-layered federal system now in place, federal courts adjudicate civil, criminal and administrative matters of interest to genealogists. Learn the structure of the courts, the nature of the records they create, and how and where to find them for use in family history.

1:00  p.m.:  Legal  Research  101:  Century  of  Lawmaking  (legislative  process  through  the  resources of  the  Library  of  Congress)  (Sayre)

Many individuals are mentioned in or the subject of laws passed by the Congress.  Also many laws passed by Congress created records of genealogical interest. Learn about the legislative process to include how a bill becomes law. The principal records created – debates, journals of congress, and statutes will be described. Learn how to find and use the Statutes at  Large.

2:45  p.m.:  Courts  102:  State  Courts  and  their  Records  (Russell)

Courts created by state law can be called the People’s Courts, since they are the courts with which our ancestors had the most interaction. Understand the organization of these courts, the division of functions among the various courts, the record-keeping systems historically in use and the scope of court records of value to genealogists.

TUESDAY, July 21

8:30  a.m.:  Legal  Research  102:  The  Serial  Set,  American  State  Papers,  and  Territorial  Papers (Sayre)

These publications contain the reports of the Congress and the Executive branch and are an essential source of American history. Thousands of people are mentioned in these documents. Learn about the creation, the content, and genealogical importance of these core publications of the federal government. Learn how to locate and access these publications.

10:15  a.m.:  Legal  Research  103:  The  Serial  Set  et  al  Illustrated  (case  studies  and  usage  concepts) (Sayre)

Use of these resources can be challenging. Learn how to develop a research plan that is comprehensive and identifies strategies appropriate for individual circumstances.

1:00  p.m.:  Estate  Law:  Probate and More (Russell)

Probate records created on a person’s death are among the most valuable of genealogical resources. Learn about the wide variety of records created in a typical probate case and the protections the law afforded widows, widowers and minor children.

2:45  p.m.:  Legal research 104:  Finding the Law (Russell)

Understanding the records of a time and place means understanding the law that applied then and there. That, in turn, means understanding how law is made, what its antecedents may be, and how to find the law that applied. Learn how.

WEDNESDAY, July 22

8:30  a.m.:  Immigration  &  Naturalization  Law  101:  The  Early  Years  (Smith)

Effective use of the records of immigration and naturalization in the United States requires an understanding of the evolution of legal controls exercised by government. Social, political and economic changes drove United States policies, and the laws enforcing those policies dictated the collection, maintenance, and ultimately the disposition of records. Part I reviews the early years, to the early 20th  century.

10:15  a.m.:  Immigration  &  Naturalization  Law  102:  The  20th  Century  (Smith)

Effective use of the records of immigration and naturalization in the United States requires an understanding of the evolution of legal controls exercised by government. Social, political and economic changes drove United States policies, and the laws enforcing those policies dictated the collection, maintenance, and ultimately the disposition of records. Part II reviews the complex laws and records of the 20th  century.

1:00  p.m.:  Property  101:  Federal  Land  Law  –  Disposing  of  Public  Land  (Sayre) Beginning with the Land Ordinance of 1785 several key acts of Congress created the public domain. Subsequently, some 3,000 laws governed the disposition of the public domain. Through the use of case studies we will explore the key laws governing land entry. Discover how the contests over land entry and the ensuing legal complexities generated rich records of genealogical significance

2:45  p.m.:  Property  102:  State  Land  Law  –  Deeds,  Mortgages  and  More  (Russell)

Land acquisition, through grants, purchase, inheritance and more, was closely controlled by colonial and state law. Who could acquire land, what limits were imposed on sale, transfer and use, and how those transactions were recorded were all dictated by law. Learn how the records created can be the key to resolving many questions of relationship.

THURSDAY, July 23

8:30  a.m.:  Military  Law  101:  Military  Pension  Laws  (Sayre)

Almost every military conflict resulted in the award of pensions and other benefits. Discover how pension law created records of genealogical significance. Understand how the constantly changing eligibility requirements determined if an individual was awarded a pension or bounty land.

10:15  a.m.:  Legal  Research  105:  The  Claims  Committees  of  the  Congress  and  the  U.S.  Court  of Private  Land  Claims  (Sayre)

Beginning in 1794 and continuing well into the twentieth century Congress created 14 different claims committees, acting in effect as an appellate authority over the decisions of the executive branch. Favorable resolution of these claims often resulted in the passage of a private act. Understand the jurisdiction and operation of these committees and discover the importance of these private acts in genealogical research.

1:00  p.m.:  Family  Law  101:  The  Law  of  Marriage  and  Divorce  (Russell)

Who could marry, when, and under what circumstances after what legal formalities – these are the fundamentals of the law of marriage. How old the persons had to be, whether consent was required, how closely they could be related, and what the consequences were if the marriage was void or voidable will be reviewed, along with the laws governing the other end of the marriage and the availability, grounds for and authority to grant divorces.

2:45  p.m.:  Family  Law  102:  The  Law  of  Women  and  Children  (Russell)

Many aspects of the law distinguished between men and women, generally to the disadvantage of women. From property ownership to voting, the English common law in particular was distinctly patriarchal, with men given authority over both wives and children. Learn how the law treated women and children, and what records may have resulted from that distinction.

FRIDAY, July 24

8:30  a.m.:  Legal  Research  106:  Federal  Prisons  and  Investigation  (Sayre)

Prison records and investigative files reveal details of an individual’s life available nowhere else. Understand how to locate federal records of investigation and incarceration. Learn about the genealogical value of these records including records of the Bureau of Prisons and the investigative case files of the FBI (1908–1922).

10:15  a.m.:  Evidence  101:  Using  the  Law  to  Prove  a  Case  (case  studies)  (Russell  and  Sayre)

Case studies showing how the law can often provide the key to solving difficult genealogical problems.

11:30  a.m.:  Wrap-­up  and  certificates  before  Friday  lunch