Tuesday, February 24, 2015

NERGC 2015 Early Bird Registration closes soon!

Talk about a great opportunity to learn more about research in Rhode Island! I'll be giving two lectures on Saturday, 18 April 2015,"GPS for Genealogy: Another Kind of Navigation," about the genealogical proof standard, and "Which Autosomal DNA test is right for YOU?" about genetic genealogy and autosomal DNA testing.
See the press release below

The New England Regional Genealogical Conference (NERGC) is just around the corner this April 2015. Judy G. Russell, the Legal Genealogist and Lisa Louise Cooke, the host of the Genealogy Gems podcast are the featured national speakers. Did you know that Lisa has never been to New England before?!! This is your chance to see two amazing nationally-recognized speakers. And D. Joshua Taylor of Genealogy Roadshow is giving several talks and a banquet talk too.

Why pay full price? Save 20% by registering now! NERGC Early Bird registration deadline is February 28th. To register online or download the Program Brochure, go to www.nergc.org. See you in Providence!

Lisa Louise Cooke is the owner of Genealogy Gems, a genealogy and family history multi-media company. She is Producer and Host of the Genealogy Gems Podcast, the popular online genealogy audio show as well as the Family History: Genealogy Made Easy podcast, both available at www.GenealogyGems.com, in iTunes, and through the free Genealogy Gems Toolbar. Her podcasts bring genealogy news, research strategies, expert interviews and inspiration to genealogists in 75 countries around the world.

The Legal Genealogist Judy G. Russell is a genealogist with a law degree. She writes, teaches and lectures on a wide variety of genealogical topics, ranging from using court records in family history to understanding DNA testing. A Colorado native with roots deep in the American south on her mother’s side and entirely in Germany on her father’s side, she is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists, the National Genealogical Society and numerous state and regional genealogical societies. She has written for the National Genealogical Society Quarterly and National Genealogical Society Magazine, among other publications. She is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Board for Certification of Genealogists, from which she holds credentials as a Certified Genealogist and Certified Genealogical Lecturer.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Rhode Island Historical Society Library is finally reopened, only for the Newport Historical Society, another one of the Rhode Island research gems, to be closed for construction. Oh well, you can't have it all, or not all at the same time!

 There are still wonderful resources to explore relating to your RI ancestors. If you have any relatives who were at the Rhode Island House of Corrections, the Hospital for the Insane, or at the RI State Infirmary, also known as the Almshouse, there are some truly wonderful resources available.

While the vast majority of the records the Hospital for the Insane are missing (purportedly in someone's basement), the RIHSL has one of the earliest ledgers, from 1895-1898 (Rhode Island Historical Society Library- Rhode Island State Institutions Records.) If you had an ancestor committed to the asylum, you can do a page by page search for their admission during that time.

If your ancestor spent any time in the state penal system, there are the discharges for the House of Corrections (MSS 231, SG 1, Series 2, Vol. 19). One name jumped out at me as I was scrolling through the pages; Emma Skuce was repeatedly incarcerated in State Prison and County Jail. The record of her death is also found in the book, on 15 Nov 1915. If you received a death certificate from the RI state archives which give the House of Corrections as the location of death, you could check the ledger for the original record and determine the reason for incarceration which could lead you to court records and learning more about the reasons for their stay at the "state farm."

If you have an ancestor who died at the "State Hospital" in "Howard," this is actually a section of Cranston that was designated for a variety of state institutions including the poor house, the state prison and the Hospital for the Insane. Even today, the State Dept. of Health, State Dept of Corrections and a number of other state departments have offices and facilities there. Many of the admissions ledgers are available at the RI State Archives, and can provide fascinating detail about our poor ancestors and the treatment of various illness. Reading through these ledgers, it was fascinating to note that whole families of children would come in to the hospital for "T&A," tonsils and adenoid surgery. Another ledger has "Patient Histories" which records why and how people arrived at the hospital.
Image from 1915 Reports Presented to the General Assembly of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. Office of the Secretary of State, 1915. E.L. Freeman Co., Providence, RI

With a wealth of resources available for our less than illustrious ancestors, we should take advantage of the records available to add more interest to our family histories.