Thursday, September 28, 2017

Family History Day with D. Joshua Taylor

This past Saturday the Columbus Metropolitan Library offered a Family History Day with guest speaker D. Joshua Taylor.  I couldn't resist.  When he was a boy, he and his parents attended the same church congregation our family attended.

Josh offered four one hour presentations.  Each was was well-prepared and presented and offered an abundance of information.  These are the presentations with a few highlights and brief overviews of each.

Finding the Roots of Your Family Legends
Don't discount a legend.  Try to find where the legend originated in your family.  Then research the family, taking into account the social, political, and geographic conditions in which your ancestors lived that might have fostered the legend.  As you research the legend, you'll also research the family/families and learn the facts and fiction of the legend.  He recommended that we not discard the legend completely because it's what draws family in and will lead to interaction and the opportunity to clarify and correct the legend.

Online Library Catalogs:  A Genealogist's Best Kept Secret
Not all online library catalogs are organized the same way.  When viewing a catalog for the first time, look to see how that library's catalog is organized.  Use the Library of Congress's catalog to determine subject headings and keywords that may be used in most libraries.  He encouraged us to visit the libraries/archives libraries (online and/or the physical buildings) in the city and state where an ancestor lived, even if there wasn't a library there at the time. 

Online Resources:  Religious Archives and Organizations
Josh guided us through ways to find online religious records and discussed different denominations and some of the records available at each.  To begin an online search, find the website for the ancestor's denomination and look for digital collections.  I came away with the impression that unless my ancestor belonged to a church with a national organization, it will be harder to find records, especially online images.

Evaluating & Documenting Online Sources
Look at who created the website, the target audience, the organization/sitemap of the website, record types, and content to decide the reliability of digital record images.  Josh gave a list of key elements to include when documenting an online source and some sample citations.  This was an interesting presentation with lots of great information.

The lunch hour gave us an opportunity for a guided tour of the genealogy section of the library.  There were also librarians available to show us the library's scanner and explain the procedures they follow to catalog the scanned images.  Visitors to the library are welcome to take their own historic photographs and documents to be scanned (the images of which may be added to the library's collection to be available online).

I missed last year's Family History Day with Lisa Louise Cook.  I wonder who the guest presenter will be in 2018.

Copyright ©2017 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.


  1. One of the legends in my father's family was that they descended from Quakers. My mother, who did the research for my father, kept finding dead ends while looking everywhere else. One day a lady at the local genealogy library connected her up with some previously unknown (to her) Quaker records. The legend was true and we go back generations in North Carolina.

    1. How fun to prove a legend true instead of otherwise, Robin. I guess when we can't find anything to prove or disprove, the best thing is to just keep searching, as your mother did, until one can documents that lean toward true or false.

  2. Oh how fun! I was there at Family History Day! I was sitting on the right, by the window. I saw Lisa last year too. Her program was very technical, dealing with Google Maps (you can layer older maps and photographs on it).

    1. I have heard about Lisa's Google Maps presentation and know there are lots of possibilities but have never tried any. A few years ago ProQuest offered a week of free Historic Map Works online. I was able to find the location where my great-great-grandfather and his family lived in Bruin, Pa. Maybe Google Maps works similarly. I'll have to give it a try one of these days.


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