The July-August 2003 issue of Ancestry magazine contained an excellent article by Robert S. Davis on “Research in the Deep South.” The author’s premise is that Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi, “on the way to becoming the states of today, made such different histories that these six states only sometimes share a common past.” To support his assertion, Mr. Davis has written an essay on each state of the region that summarizes that state’s genealogical characteristics and dispels myths along the way.
We recently featured a number of scarce German passenger list books compiled by the late genealogist Clifford Neal Smith from rich but obscure sources. Mr. Smith derived many of his passenger records from “buried” secondary works–including historical monographs written in German–books that even the conscientious genealogist was unlikely to discover.
Chapter 16 in Professional Genealogy. A Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers, and Librarians, edited by Elizabeth Shown Mills, covers the topic of Note-Taking. Entitled “Transcripts and Abstracts,” and written by Mary McCampbell Bell, this chapter offers rock-solid guidance on the taking of genealogical notes. It’s sorely needed by every researcher—professional or not—because everyone takes research notes. To quote Ms. Bell:
“Reliable research, reliable conclusions, reliable reports, and reliable publications all rest on one foundation: skill at note taking . . . This chapter focuses upon the two most essential note-taking skills: transcribing and abstracting. Both require familiarity with the mechanics of editing words. Both require us to understand the records we use and the boilerplate we find in them. For abstracts, we must also be able to distinguish between crucial details and excess verbiage. Toward that end, this chapter reviews note-taking principles and presentation styles. Examples from a variety of legal documents demonstrate how to transcribe and abstract—with step-by-step illustrations of how an abstract evolves.”
Dekalb County, Alabama, in the northeastern part of that state, was established in 1836 from the Cherokee Cession of the preceding year. For a number of years, Dorothy Smith Duff has been systematically transcribing or indexing the earliest records of DeKalb County. Her previous efforts have resulted in an index to marriages and collections of probate and will and estate records. These new works at hand index DeKalb County, Alabama, deed records for the period 1835-1895. Both of these volumes refer to about 15,000 deed transactions. The Grantee Deed Index lists the names of the grantee in alphabetical order, the name of the corresponding grantor, and the volume and page number (on the microfilm) where the transaction was recorded. The Grantor Deed Index is arranged alphabetically by grantor and gives the name of the corresponding grantee followed by the citations. Both new books are essential in any collection of DeKalb County source records.
Image credit: DeKalb County Courthouse, via Wikimedia Commons.
CHOCTAW BY BLOOD. Enrollment Cards, 1898-1914. Volume V, by Jeff Bowen. Volume V in a new series of Native American records from Mr. Jeff Bowen enumerates the sometimes contentious enrollment of Choctaw tribesmen by the Dawes Commission. The results of these proceedings are contained in 6100 Choctaw enrollment cards (National Archive Microfilm M-1186, Rolls 39-46), which list householders’ ages, sex, degree of blood, the parties’ relationship to head of household, county, Dawes Roll Number, and date of enrollment by the Secretary of Interior. Mr. Bowen’s transcriptions also give the enrollee’s parents’ names as well as miscellaneous notes pertaining to the enrollee’s circumstances, when required. The fifth volume in this series is now available. Together, all five volumes identify more than 17,000 persons.
Image credit: A Choctaw woman, via Wikimedia Commons.