How often do you get the opportunity to learn from a master genealogist? In the genealogy world we can gain our education in several ways. Most common are watching webinars and videos, reading books and articles, listening to podcasts and recordings of presentations, and attending conferences and institutes. If we’re lucky, we can learn from someone who is willing to share a lifetime of research experience. My week at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) gave me that opportunity.
When the courses for 2020 were first announced in early 2019, I eagerly perused the offerings. Seeing that Barbara Vines Little would be presenting “Virginia from the Colonial Period to the Civil War: Her Records, Her People, Her Laws,” I knew immediately that I needed this class. The course schedule was posted with the specific lecture titles that would make up our week. Every title looked to deliver information that would aid my personal and client research. I suspected the course syllabus would be filled with information gleaned from a lifetime of research in Virginia.
My foray into the genealogy world began in 2003 and one of my earliest research projects involved proving my Texas Royston ancestor belonged to the Roystons of Gloucester County, Virginia. Living 30 miles south of the Family History Library gave me access to many resources, but Gloucester County had experienced severe record loss, so the research was difficult. It wasn’t until I joined a Royston Y-DNA project that I was able to confirm my hypothesis. That research became the subject of my Four-Generation project for Accreditation. Since that foray into Virginia research, I’ve had many client projects in a variety of Virginia counties. With more on my schedule for 2020, this was the perfect time for this class.
Barbara is a former president of the National Genealogical Society and the Virginia Genealogical Society and has lectured for the past twenty-five years on Virginia and West Virginia. If you’d like to learn from her also, you can watch her webinars on Legacy Family Tree Webinars.
When registering for a popular institute course, it’s wise to be logged in and ready to click “purchase” as soon as the registration opens. Barbara’s class sold out in a matter of minutes and SLIG opened another session to accommodate more people.
What did I learn in the Virginia course? Some of my overarching take-aways:
– The geography of Virginia played a large role in the settlement and migration pattern of our colonial ancestors. Rather than crossing the mountains, they often went south into North Carolina during the period of the French and Indian Wars. When thing settled down in Virginia, the families would move back to Virginia and often go on to Tennessee or Kentucky.
-With so much record loss from the Civil War era, land records are key. Tax and court records are also invaluable for putting together ancestral families.
-The Library of Virginia has thousands of records available only on site and offers an inter-library loan program for their microfilm. Learning to use the catalog is worth the investment of time. The website also has digital collections, research guides, and more. Any serious Virginia researcher needs to know this resource thoroughly.
-The number of repositories in Virginia is staggering. Almost every county has a library or historical association holding records only available in that repository. County boundaries changed a number of times and records for all adjoining counties should be researched.
After five days of course work, I’m ready to tackle my Virginia research with a new understanding of methodology and the records!
If you’re looking to take your research to the next level, consider finding a course that will be right for you. Here are the flyers that were released at the SLIG banquet with the announcement of SLIG 2021 course titles and the Fall 2020 Virtual course titles. The full course descriptions for 2021 will be posted in the next few months on the SLIG website.
Best of luck in all your genealogical endeavors!