a monthly column by Jen Baldwin
The first stop on the map is Georgia, and page one in our Atlas is home to Peachtree Street, Hulk Hogan, and countless historic homes, museums, and preserved plantations. You will also find research help at Georgia’s Virtual Vault and the South Georgia Historic Newspapers site. Great reading can be found at the blog The Pendleton Genealogy Post, written by Catherine Pendleton.
An area filled with incredible history and the personalities to match, Georgia was the last of the original Thirteen Colonies, and one of the initial Confederate States[i]. Resources include the Georgia Archives, the Georgia Historical Society, and the Northeast Georgia History Center. You can also find excellent resources at the Troup County Archives, part of the Troup County Historical Society. Available indexes online include Manuscripts, a Cemetery Database, and a Soldiers Database, among others. You can also access their Research Services and the Bookshop, which has a very thorough list of regional history and reference texts. Georgia’s Virtual Vault will bring a myriad of investigative options to the family historian. Their list of collections covers Colonial Wills, Historic Postcards and Confederate Pension Applications; truly, too much to list here.
Paul Graham, GC
Certified Genealogist and author, Paul K. Graham, GC, can also tell you quite a bit about Georgia. Having written seven texts, six of which directly relate to the state, Mr. Graham most recently published Georgia Land Lottery Research, available through the Georgia Genealogical Society (GGS). In fact, he credits that organization for much of his success, and all proceeds from the sale of this text, published in 2010, benefit GGS[ii]. This latest book earned him the honor of the 2012 National Genealogical Society (NGS) Award of Excellence: Genealogical Methods and Sources. Currently employed by ProGenealogists, the research arm of Ancestry.com, he recommends the newly added “Returns of Qualified Voters and Reconstruction Oath Books, 1867-1869”. Completed only two years after the end of the Civil War, and three years before the 1870 Census, this is a wonderful index with available images to utilize when researching in Georgia, as it lists all qualifying males, both white and black. To define that, Ancestry.com provides the following information regarding the requirements that enabled a man to register to vote: “Per the Reconstruction Acts of 1867, men had to swear an oath of allegiance to the United States, and some were disqualified for their participation in Confederate government posts.”[iii]
Paul Graham has this to say to genealogists considering the BCG process: “be persistent. Keep pushing ahead, and don’t let it drop; you have to push yourself.” Beginning this process in 2003, it took him five years to produce a portfolio he felt was acceptable for submission, and he received his certification officially on 1 Jan 2009. One piece of advice early on in the process that stuck with him: “Don’t submit your preliminary application until your complete portfolio is nearly ready.” He followed that advice and offers it to all seeking the certification for themselves. Finding another member of the genealogical community in your area, someone who has been in the field for some time, was also helpful, and Mr. Graham found that friendship in Ken Thomas, Georgia State Historian (retired). “The friendship happens naturally”, the mentoring comes later, and you will learn from each other. Drawn to great stories, especially those coming out of southern cities, the genealogical research he enjoys includes the “seedier sides of cities”, utilizing online newspaper archives to find day to day events, with “no shortage of excitement around bars and red light districts.”
Preferred places to research the families of Georgia include the Atlanta History Center, the Hargrett Library at the University of Georgia in Athens, and the Central Georgia records collection at the Washington Memorial Library in Macon. Now a resident of Salt Lake City, he’s also been reveling in the Family History Library and learning from his coworkers, experts in their individual fields, which surround him at Ancestry.com.
A true “Georgia Peach” (I just couldn’t resist!) is Catherine Pendleton, author of The Pendleton Genealogy Post. Her blog is outstanding, and although she researches from the far corner of Alaska, her knowledge of Georgia is reflected in her writing. Her ancestral search is told genuinely, with compassion and honest emotion. She combines those stories with reviews, technology and wonderful family photos. If you don’t use her contributions as a source, you should certainly look at them for ability to simply tell a story. Using her blog as a way to connect with other family, to tell her ancestral stories and to “think out loud” about genealogy; it is a “must read”.
Georgia brings us a myriad of resources, and a complicated history that can add many layers to any genealogy project. By virtually or physically visiting Georgia, you can certainly “go in-depth”.
All links listed in The Family Atlas will be made available on The In-Depth Genealogist website in the Forums, under the United States category in “Research Areas”.
Jen Baldwin is the author of one of our newest columns, The Family Atlas, which appears in each month’s issue of The In-Depth Genealogist. She can also be found blogging at Ancestral Breezes.
© Jen Baldwin (Ancestral Journeys) 2012
This article originally appeared in the June issue of The In-Depth Genealogist. Receive The In-Depth Genealogist free by subscribing HERE.