Germanic Genealogy Society of Minnesota Conference on March 25, 2017

The local Germanic Genealogy Society of Minnesota put on what I thought was one of their best conferences yesterday. It was held at Normandale Community College (Fine Arts bldg), and it was a full day with one speaker – Michael Lacopo.

At the last Minnesota Genealogical Society event, Lacopo gave a presentation about the history of diseases and social history. He is very big on understanding social history as a way to put ancestral actions in context. I think that it is an important point. At some point we should want to move past the simple facts like birth, marriage, death, and census data to understand what might have been going on in our ancestors’ daily lives.

His presentations yesterday are summarized below.

  • The German Immigrant Experience in the 18th Century – painted a picture of why people left the German States, how they traveled, and their experiences (mainly in PA).
  • How to Overcome Brick Wall Problems in Pennsylvania German Research – Dealing with the period in America when there was no census, he described various data sources and techniques for attacking research problems. He referenced the Family Search wiki entries for PA, church records, tax lists, court records,, business records, and assorted manuscript sources. He mentioned a source that I have not spent time with but feel I should investigate – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ArchiveGrid .
  • De-constructing Your Family Tree: Re-evaluating the “Evidence” – This was a presentation focused on finding and correcting errors that you might have in your tree. In many ways it was a way of illustrating the genealogical proof standard explained in the Genealogical Standards Manual (https://books.google.com/books/about/The_BCG_Genealogical_Standards_Manual.html?id=5gVpVAjwNLMC) Briefly stated, the standard describes (1) conducting a reasonable exhaustive search, (2) including complete source documentation, (3) analysis and correlation of evidence and its quality, (4) resolution of conflicts, and (5) production of coherent written conclusions.
  • I’ve Had My DNA Tested! Now What? – This was a 90 minute presentation, much like the second half of my community ed genealogy class. This is a topic that deserves a lot more time, but he did a good job of presenting basic information as well as rules of thumb for using the match data.

If you want to see examples of Lacopo’s writing and analysis, try his blog.  I am told that it should be read from oldest entry to newest.  Here’s the url: https://roots4u.blogspot.com/

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Genealogy Notes: Understanding Cultures Before the 19th Century

I think that it is useful to imagine what an ancestor’s life might have been like in addition to collecting numbers about dates and places. Here are  links to two references that might be of interest in this regard.

The first one is a video simulation of parts of Paris in the 18th century. It includes sounds and 3D street scenes but no people. It reminded me of walking through Barcelona’s Old City (Ciutat Vella).

The second one is a link to information about the Domesday Book. Looking at this 11th century creation reminded me that not many people had surnames and that more than half the land owners consisted of tenant farmers.  I don’t know what portion of the population is represented by land owners, but I suspect that they represent a minority and that it is most likely that an ancestor came from the class of landless laborers.

http://www.openculture.com/2016/09/the-sights-sounds-of-18th-century-paris-get-recreated-with-3d-audio-and-animation.html

http://www.domesdaybook.co.uk/

I hope that some of this is interesting/useful.