If you keep up with the modern Genealogy world at all you probably know who D. Josh Taylor is. He is the young genealogist recently starring on “Genealogy Roadshow” and also on several episodes of “Who Do You Think You Are?”. His age and experience made sense to me once he told us he began his genealogy journey at ten years of age. Last Saturday, I had the honor to be able to attend a full day workshop with D. Joshua Taylor, hosted by the Hardesty Library in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Actually our little local Sapulpa Genealogy Club had about ten members in attendance.
Josh was a joy to listen to. He conveys his excitement and curiosity about genealogical history in a fun loving way. On one episode of Genealogy Roadshow he describes himself as “part detective, part historian and the other part extremely curious”. It is very obvious that he loves Genealogy and the stories behind our ancestors.
Saturday he spoke on four topics:
- Bridging the Gap: Finding Ancestors in the U.S. Between 1780 and 1830
- Online Resources for Colonial America
- Finding the Roots of Your Family Legends
- Treasures in the Archives: Using Archive Grid
In Bridging the Gap he first helped us understand the reasons for gaps in record from 1780-1830. Immediately following the Revolution the country was expanding rapidly, record keeping systems were still being worked out, and it was estimated that only 1 in 4 Americans were members of a religious group which at that time in history was the main recorders of vital statistics such as births, marriages and burials. He then went on to give us strategies to help overcome the gap. If primary vital statistic records are unavailable you have to build a profile using other records. Sometimes you can use a process of elimination. There is a “Proof Standard”: Build a case, Eliminate possibilities, Develop theories, and Draw conclusions. He said to go back through the records you do have and look for other clues. He said several times that it is important to try to look at original records, not just transcriptions. There can be mistakes in transcribing but more than that there may be other information on the original records, notes written on the side, etc. He spent some time in this session going over archives and lesser known repository research. The kind where you have to put “feet to the ground” and do physical research. This really got me fired up, dreaming of when I can plan another Genealogy Roadtrip.
The second session was about doing Colonial American Research online. He went over using Google Books, Internet Archive, Early American Newspapers and American Ancestors. All online databases that have books and newspapers digitized. Many States and Universities also have digitized archives.
After the second session we broke for lunch. Many in our group went to eat at McAllister’s. Mr. Taylor ate there as well. Which was good because we knew as long as he was there eating we weren’t late getting back. We had a great lunch and I enjoyed getting to know the ladies in our club better.
The third session was about Finding the Roots of Family Legends. This was a fun one. Typically in genealogy family legends are discounted. He encouraged us to trace the legends, develop the historical context around the legend, using newspapers of the time along with other sources. We should document the sources we find that disprove the legend so that others won’t have to redo the same research. But whether we can prove or disprove the legend we shouldn’t lose the legend. We should write the legend along with our research on it into our family books because for many family members that is the interesting stuff that connects them to genealogy.
The last session of the day was Treasures in the Archives: Using ArchiveGrid. This was a pretty technical session, at least for me. I had never even heard of ArchiveGrid. This session really made me realize what a novice I still am at this genealogy thing. I took alot of notes and I am hoping that when I have time to learn this I will understand my own notes. If not I will just have to find another Joshua Taylor workshop to attend.