03 August 2022

Summer Surgery and GRIP Courses

Photo taken by Brenda Leyndyke

I hope my readers are enjoying their summer. Here in Michigan, we have had some hot weather, but not like temperatures in other parts of the world. July seemed to just fly by. You may have noticed I did not post during July. The number one reason was because I had knee replacement surgery on June 15th and spent the next six weeks recovering from it. Once four weeks had passed, I was able to do more and that led to catching up on things around the house and doing at home physical therapy. You combine this with family visitors, GRIP, and summer life and it leads to zero postings.

Speaking of GRIP, the Genealogical Research Institute in Pittsburgh, I was able to take two courses this summer. The first one was Law School for Genealogists with Judy Russell as course coordinator. Rich Sayre and Marion Smith joined her. I am thoroughly versed in the laws that impact my genealogical research. This class started four days after my knee replacement surgery. It might not have been the best scheduling on my part, but I did persevere. I only used Tylenol for pain during this time, so I was clear headed. 

This course was well organized and flowed from one session to another. I learned about state and federal courts, estate law, military law, immigration law, family law, and more. The classes on Century of Lawmaking; The Serial Set, American State Papers, and Territorial Papers; and The Serial Set et al Illustrated were some of my favorites. Rick Sayre really knows his stuff and I learned a lot about these records. Now, I just need to dig deeper into all the topics presented. I will be writing more about how I put all this information to effective use in my own research.

A new class was offered this year at GRIP. It was Guide to Treasures in Federal Records with Michael Strauss as course coordinator. Additional instructors were Annette Burke Lyttle, Cara Jones, and Rich Venezia. Poor Michael was recovering from COVID, and he did an exceptional job. This course was packed with information. I am still processing everything that was taught. I have quite a reading list I am working through as well. 

Of course, much of the information was on using NARA, but other little known federal records resources were provided as well. I took the class because my local genealogical society, Kalamazoo Valley Genealogical Society, takes a weeklong bus trip to Washington, D.C. each fall. Each day a bus will drop off and pick up at NARA, DAR library, and Library of Congress. If I didn't need my other knee replaced, I would have signed up for it this year. Fingers crossed for next year.

Michael's course covered Federal Census Records, Government Documents, Federal Tax Records, Military Service Records, Draft and Selective Service, Military Pensions, Reconstructive Era, Federal Land Laws, Public Domain, Bounty Land, Bankruptcy, New Deal, Patent Office records, Copyright and Trademarks, U.S. Postal Records, and Immigration and Naturalization laws and records. It was four and a half days filled with great instructors and presentations.

I suggested Michael have another course on federal records. There are so many things at NARA to dig into, I am sure it would be enough for another class.

Now, the question on everyone's mind, "How many books did you buy?" I did buy a few books. In addition to my other readings, I have books to read! Some of these titles are dated, but the general information in them made we want to add them to my library.

  1. The Archives A Guide to the National Archives Field Branches.
  2. Military Records at the National Archives
  3. Our Documents: 100 Milestone Documents at the National Archives (this one was for my husband who is supportive of my obsession hobby.)
  4. The Beginner's Guide to Using Tax Records
  5. Center: A Guide to Genealogical Research in the National Capital
  6. The Northwest Ordinance 1787 A Bicentennial Handbook.
  7. Records of the Accounting Officers of the Department of the Treasury
  8. Understanding Revolutionary War and Invalid Pension Ledgers 1818-1872 and the Pension Payment Vouchers They Represent
One other book that I ordered was The Law of the Hills: A Judicial History of Vermont. Judy Russell's class impressed upon me the importance of knowing the law at the time of our ancestor's lives. My ancestors settled in Vermont pre-statehood. If you know anything about Vermont during this time you know there were land disputes with New Hampshire and New York. I am hoping this book will help me understand this period. I ordered it from the Vermont Historical Society and I like to help historical and genealogical societies by purchasing from them.

I cannot say enough about the value of attending an institute course. I have attended GRIP for three years now and they were all virtual. Next year, GRIP will be one week virtual and one week in person. There are other institutes to attend. I wrote about those in another post

I did learn about another institute and I don't know how I hadn't heard of it before. It is the Genealogical Institute on Federal Records (GEN-FED). I think I would like to explore this further.

What genealogically related things have you done this summer? I hope you have found joy in what you did. I know I have.

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