A case for the Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine

For many genealogical writers, the “top of the food chain” is to be published in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly.

Other journals carry the same weight in the genealogy world: The Genealogist (published by the American Society of Genealogists) and The American Genealogist (founded by Donald Lines Jacobus, published independently) among them. Most genealogists include the New England Historical and Genealogical Register and the New York Genealogical and Biographical Record in the same category.

Then there is the Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine.

The Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine was first published in January 1895 as Publications of the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania, Volume I, No. 1. This early date of publication makes PGM the third longest-running genealogical journal in continuous publication, after the Register (1847) and the Record (1870).[1]

This first issue contained the following message to members of the Society, from the Committee on Publication—L. Taylor Dickson, P. S. P. Conner, and Thomas Allen Glenn:

The Board of Directors of the Society has long thought it desirable to place before you some part of the valuable papers from time to time received, and which, if bound up in the regular manuscript volumes of our collections, might not be so available or interesting as if published. Lack of sufficient funds for such a purpose has prevented printing until the present month, when the following pages are issued at a trifling cost, and will, if approved, be continued periodically.[2]

The second issue under the same Committee on Publication was released in July 1896; the delay was certainly due to the continued “[l]ack of sufficient funds.” It contained forty-five pages of abstracts of seventeenth-century Philadelphia wills, followed by lists of the Society’s officers and members, and the Third and Fourth Annual Reports.[3]

The last issue of the Publications of the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania was released in the Spring of 1947. That last issue is a milestone for several reasons.

Firstly, in a “Statement of Policy Concerning Future Publications,” the Committee on Publications submitted nine recommendations, among them that the title of the journal be changed to Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine, and that “lists of tombstone inscriptions, pastoral lists of baptisms, marriages, and burials, and similar data be allotted a much smaller space in future numbers of the Magazine than has been accorded them in the past.”[4]

Secondly, the newly-appointed editor, John Goodwin Herndon, described the new mission of the journal on “The Editor’s Page”:

Readers will notice in the current number two departures from previous practices. . . . The second change which our readers will have noticed is the inclusion herein of certain family studies. . . . We hope that all readers who have interesting and carefully prepared articles ready for publication, which relate to Pennsylvanians or their families, will submit them to the editor, so that out of a rich stock of genealogical manuscripts, a fine choice may be made for inclusion in our new Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine.[5]

It is worth noting that Mr. Herndon was elected to the American Society of Genealogists in 1945.[6] It is also worth noting that one of those first two “family studies” was “The Stauffer–Stouffer (Stover) Family of Pennsylvania,” written by Meredith B. Colket, Jr., M.A., F.A.S.G.[7] On his “Editor’s Page,” Mr. Herndon recited Mr. Colket’s qualifications:

Mr. Colket is the associate editor of The American Genealogist, secretary and Fellow of the American Society of Genealogists, governor of the Mayflower Society in the District of Columbia, member of the Pennsylvania Society of the Order of Founders and Patriots of America, and on the staff of the National Archives, Washington, D. C.[8]

Mr. Colket was also elected the National Genealogical Society’s Genealogy Hall of Fame in 1992, the seventh overall inductee.[9]

Thirdly (and finally), this last issue under the Publications title published an address to the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania at its Fifty-fifth Annual Meeting, held on 3 March 1947. This address—entitled “The American Society of Genealogists”—was delivered by John Goodwin Herndon, Ph.D., F.A.S.G.[10] The many significant passages in this published address included:

  • “The American Society of Genealogists was formed in 1940. From then until now its president has been Dr. Arthur Adams, of Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut, known to many in this room. Originally there were twelve Fellows. In 1942, the number was increased to 36. The following year the number was constitutionally fixed at 50. All nominations and elections necessary to complete the membership were filled by the summer of 1944. . . . On 30 March 1946 the Society was incorporated under the laws of the District of Columbia. As stated in its charter, its purposes include ‘the association of genealogists for their pleasure and benefit; the encouragement of genealogical research and the publications of the results; and in general the securing for genealogy recognition as a serious scientific subject of research in the historical and the social fields of learning.'” [page 164]
  • “The two most important committees thus far appointed are those on Publications and on Standards in the Genealogical Profession. . . . The responsibility of the latter is to recommend the steps which it believes should be taken to insure to the employing public a guarantee of the capacity and integrity of a certified genealogist.” [page 166]
  • “I said a few minutes ago that the second part of the Society’s program bears upon the establishment of standards in the genealogical profession. The time has come, I am sure most of you believe, when official or other protection should be extended to the practicing genealogist in the same way as standards are set by the American Bar Association for lawyer’s [sic], the American Medical Association for physicians and surgeons, and so on for other professional men and women. Thus we have certifying boards for accountants, architects, engineers, nurses. . . . Such steps were not taken in order to deny freedom of choice of occupation to individuals but to protect the public from misrepresentation and various corrupt practices.” [pages 167–168]

Here in 1947, we see the first stirrings of the creation of the Board for Certification of Genealogists, which would not be established until 1964.[11] Mr. Herndon even used the term “certified genealogist”!

The next issue, that of October 1948, was the first published under the name Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine, Volume XVI. That issue contained research articles from Robert M. Torrence, Howard T. Dimick, John Goodwin Herndon, F.A.S.G., and Meredith B. Colket Jr., F.A.S.G.[12]

Volume XVII in 1949 further upheld the new ideals. The June issue included articles by Lewis D. Cook (elected to the American Society of Genealogists in 1949), Milton Rubincam (a founding trustee of both ASG and BCG, elected to the Genealogy Hall of Fame in 2003), and William J. Hoffman, F.A.S.G. The December issue included articles from George V. Massey II (elected to the American Society of Genealogists in 1950); and Walter Lee Sheppard, Jr., F.A.S.G. (elected to the Genealogy Hall of Fame in 2007), and Lewis D. Cook, F.A.S.G.[13]

The following Volume XVIII (1950–1951) included articles by John G. Herndon, F.A.S.G. and Walter L. Sheppard, Jr., and Lewis D. Cook, in the December 1950 issue; and Rosalie F. Bailey, F.A.S.G. (elected to the Genealogy Hall of Fame in 2010), in the September 1951 issue.[14]

Volume XVIII (1950–1951) was co-edited by John Goodwin Herndon and Lewis D. Cook, both Fellows of the American Society of Genealogists. They continued this relationship through Volume XIX, issue 3 (September 1954), when Lewis D. Cook became the sole editor.

With Volume XXIV (1965–1966) the editorship of the Magazine was taken up by Mrs. Hannah Benner Roach, elected to the American Society of Genealogists in 1961 and the Genealogy Hall of Fame in 2002. She served in this role until 1972.

Other members of the Publications Committee during this era included John Insley Coddington, F. A.S.G.,  and Walter Lee Sheppard, Jr. Mr. Coddington was also a former editor of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly and was elected to the Genealogy Hall of Fame in 1997.[15]

Most recently, in 2001, Patricia Law Hatcher, F.A.S.G. (elected to A.S.G. in 2000), served as editor of the Magazine. She was joined by co-editor Aaron Goodwin in 2011, who became the sole (and current) editor the following year when Ms. Hatcher retired.

With such a long and illustrious history of publishing quality genealogical research, I must ask: shouldn’t the Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine be included among the “top tier” of genealogy journals?

For more information on the Magazine, see also Aaron Goodwin, “The Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine Now Online,” online reprint, Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania (http://genpa.org/sites/default/files/12-2_Goodwin.pdf : accessed  19 April 2013); originally published in American Ancestors, Spring 2011, 18–22.

SOURCES:

Note: Digital images of all issues of the Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine (and the preceding Publications of the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania) cited below have been viewed in the Members-Only section of the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania website (http://genpa.org/publications/pennsylvania-genealogical-magazine : accessed 19 Apr 2013).

[1] New England Historic Genealogical Society, “The New England Historical & Genealogical Register,” American Ancestors (http://www.americanancestors.org/the-register/ : accessed 19 Apr 2013). “The Record Online,” New York Genealogical and Biographical Society (http://newyorkfamilyhistory.org/research-discover/elibrary/record-online : accessed 19 Apr 2013).

[2] Committee on Publication, “To the Members of the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania,” Publications of the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania 1 (1895): 5.

[3] Publications of the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania 1 (1896), no. 2.

[4] “Statement of Policy Concerning Future Publications,” Publications of the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania 15 (Spring 1947): 277.

[5] John Goodwin Herndon (uncredited), “The Editor’s Page,” Publications 15: 278.

[6] “Roll of All Fellows,” The American Society of Genealogists (http://fasg.org/AllFellows.html : accessed 19 Apr 2013).

[7] Meredith B. Colket, Jr., M.A., F.A.S.G., “The Stauffer–Stouffer (Stover) Family of Pennsylvania,” Publications 15: 216–258.

[8] Herndon, “The Editor’s Page,” Publications 15: 278.

[9] “NGS Genealogy Hall of Fame Members,” National Genealogical Society (http://www.ngsgenealogy.org/cs/past_halloffame_winners : accessed 19 Apr 2013).

[10] John Goodwin Herndon, Ph.D., F.A.S.G, “The American Society of Genealogists,” Publications 15: 161–169.

[11] Kay Haviland Freilich, CG, “BCG History,” Board for Certification of Genealogists (http://bcgcertification.org/aboutbcg/bcghistory.html : accessed 19 Apr 2013); originally published in OnBoard, Volume 7, Number 1, January 2001.

[12] Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine 16 (1948).

[13] Cook, “Commodore Thomas Truxton, U.S.N., and His Descendants,” Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine 17 (June 1949): 3–32. Rubincam, “The Lure and Value of Genealogy,” PGM 17: 33–44. Hoffman, “Jan Willemsz Boekenoogen: An Early Settler of Germantown,” PGM 17: 45–55. Massey, “The Simpsons of Paxtang and Sunbury, Pennsylvania,” PGM 17 (December 1949): 59–68. Sheppard & Cook, “Harris of Cumberland County, New Jersey,” PGM 17: 79–109.

[14] Herndon, “Wiltbanck–Wiltbank Family of Sussex County, Delaware, and Philadelphia,” PGM 18 (December 1950): 3–72. Sheppard & Cook, “Harris of Cumberland County, New Jersey: Supplementary Notes,” PGM 18: 81–83. Bailey, “The Foos Family of Pennsylvania and Ohio,” PGM 18 (September 1951): 87–114; and “Griffith Families of Eastern Pennsylvania Using the Name Joseph,” PGM 18: 115–117.

[15] “NGS Genealogy Hall of Fame Members,” National Genealogical Society.

If you would like to cite this post:

Michael Hait, CG, “A case for the Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine,”Planting the Seeds: Genealogy as a Profession blog, posted 20 April 2013 (http://michaelhait.wordpress.com : accessed [access date]). [Please also feel free to include a hyperlink to the specific article if you are citing this post in an online forum.]

Notable Genealogy Blog Posts, 16 March 2013

The following recent blog posts are those that I consider important or notable. Unlike other similar blog lists, I cannot guarantee that they will all be from the past week. (Some weeks I simply do not have time to read any blogs.) But I will try to write this on a fairly regular basis.

James O’Toole, “A Research Exercise with the Watergate Tapes,” The Historical Society blog, posted 11 February 2013 (http://histsociety.blogspot.com : accessed 12 March 2013). Not genealogical, but a historical exercise in record analysis.

Brenda Dougall Merriman, CG, “‘The Men,’” Brenda Dougall Merriman blog, posted 10 February 2013 (http://brendadougallmerriman.blogspot.com : accessed 12 March 2013). Brenda discusses a research case she recently had that benefited greatly from a study of academic history material. All genealogists should pay close attention to these resources.

Jeff Hurt, “Fostering An Extremely Powerful Tool At Your Conference: The Session Discussion,” Velvet Chainsaw’s Midcourse Corrections blog, posted 14 February 2013 (http://jeffhurtblog.com : accessed 12 March 2013). While I am not convinced that lectures do not serve an important role in education, I do believe that genealogy conferences should incorporate more discussions—panel discussions, small group discussions, etc.

Kelly James-Enger, “The Freelancer’s Bible–and How to Collect on Every Invoice,” Dollars and Deadlines blog, posted 18 February 2013 (http://dollarsanddeadlines.blogspot.com : accessed 12 March 2013). I have compared professional genealogy practice to freelance writing on numerous previous occasions. This blog post—written for freelance writers—contains lessons that professional genealogists can also learn from.

Dawn Watson, “Perfecting Society Publications,” Digging in the Roots: A Genealogical Odyssey blog, posted 18 February 2013 (http://genealogical.wordpress.com : accessed 12 March 2013). The subject of this post is one that I feel very strongly about as well. So strongly, that I will discuss it in a future post. But Dawn has definitely hit the nail on the head.

Nolan Haims, “Prezi Is Here To Stay,” PresentYourStory.com blog, posted 6 November 2012 (http://presentyourstory.com : accessed 12 March 2013). I have tried the Prezi presentation software before. I thought it was an interesting concept, but did not find it a natural fit. I may give it another look, thanks to this blog post.

Sarah Nerney, “Wills, Slavery, and Freedom in Augusta Co.,” Out of the Box: Notes from the Archives @ the Library of Virginia blog, posted 20 February 2013 (http://www.virginiamemory.com/blogs/out_of_the_box/ : accessed 12 March 2013). This is a very informative and interesting look at some Virginia records.

Craig R. Scott, CG, “A Publisher’s Point of View,” in Judy G. Russell, CG, “Keeping the lights on,” The Legal Genealogist blog, posted 8 March 2013 (http://www.legalgenealogist.com/blog : accessed 12 March 2013). The Internet has been almost solely responsible for the closure of bookstores across the nation. Sadly it is also affecting the genealogy publishing industry in a negative way. The owner of Heritage Books, Craig is a prominent national genealogy book publisher. We definitely do not want to lose the valuable resources publishers offer!

Virtual Professional Management Conference for APG Members

Are you unable to attend our upcoming APG Professional Management Conference (PMC) in person? We are excited to announce a virtual option for a selection of the lectures. APG has partnered with FamilySearch to offer streaming for the following lectures:

 

Tuesday afternoon, 19 March 2013, 3:30-5:00 p.m., MDT

Variables in Professional Genealogists’ Approaches to Research

Thomas W. Jones, Ph.D., CG, CGL, FASG, FUGA, FNGS

 

Wednesday afternoon, 20 March 2013, 1:30-5:00 p.m., MDT

Client Reports: Dos, Don’t, and Maybes

Thomas W. Jones, Ph.D., CG, CGL, FASG, FUGA, FNGS

More Than the Begats: Using the Law to Spice up a Research Report

Judy G. Russell, J.D., CG

The Best Educational Plan for You: The Workshop

Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL

 

The virtual option is available for APG members only. Pricing is $30 for Tuesday’s lecture and $65 for Wednesdays lectures. The lectures will available through the APG website as a live stream, with recordings accessible for one week. Log in to the APG member site and register at http://www.apgen.org/members/virtualpmc.html. For those interested in attending APG 2013 PMC in person in Salt Lake, 19-20 March, register at http://www.apgen.org/conferences/index.html.

We look forward to your participation!

 

Kathleen W. Hinckley, CG

Executive Director

Association Professional Genealogists

 

APG is a registered trademark of the Association of Professional Genealogists. Certified Genealogist, CG, and Certified Genealogical Lecturer, CGL, are service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists used by the Board to identify its program of genealogical competency evaluation and used under license by the Board’s Associates. All other trade and service marks are property of their respective owners.

Legacy Family Tree launches FamilyTreeWebinars.com

Contact: Geoff Rasmussen                                                                                                  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tel.  800-753-3453

Email: Geoff@LegacyFamilyTree.com

136 HOURS OF GENEALOGY CLASSES NOW AVAILABLE AT FAMILYTREEWEBINARS.COM

New Annual/Monthly Webinar Memberships Provide Anytime-Access to Entire Webinar Archives and Instructors’ Handouts

Genealogists and family historians can now have anytime, anywhere and unlimited access to the nearly 100 recorded genealogy webinars and more than 350 pages of instructors’ handouts that have been part of the Legacy Family Tree Webinar series with their new website at www.FamilyTreeWebinars.com.

Access to the complete archives (over 136 hours of classes) is now available through an annual or monthly Webinar Membership at the introductory price of $49.95 (annually) or $9.95 (monthly). Watching the live, weekly webinars continues to be free (36 more are scheduled in 2013), and visitors are free to view recordings for one week after a live presentation. For Webinar Members, new recordings and handouts will be added monthly at no extra cost.

A leader in online genealogy education, the Legacy Family Tree Webinar series has been attended by researchers in more than 100 countries. “I’m excited to bring quality genealogy education into the homes of genealogists world-wide,” said Legacy Family Tree Webinars host, Geoff Rasmussen. “Genealogists from the most remote parts of the world have been able to learn from some of genealogy’s  finest instructors because of these webinars. It’s been fun to help pioneer this technology for our industry.”

FamilyTreeWebinars.com currently features 36 of genealogy’s leading educators including Megan Smolenyak, Thomas MacEntee, Barbara Renick, DearMYRTLE, Marian Pierre-Louis, Maureen Taylor, Geoff Rasmussen, Lisa Alzo, and Karen Clifford. Click here for the complete list. Subjects include:

  • Google
  • Organization
  • Photographs & Digital Images
  • Researching in United States, Canada, Ireland, Scotland, England, Germany, Eastern Europe
  • Brick Wall Solutions
  • DNA
  • Genealogy Technology
  • Many more

Register for upcoming webinars for free.

Click here to register for future webinars.

Become a Webinar Member

  • Annual Memberships – introductory price of $49.95/year – complete access to webinar archives and handouts for one year
  • Monthly Memberships – introductory price of $9.95/month – complete access to webinar archives and handouts for one month

Click here to subscribe.

Addressing questions about the professional genealogy survey

From now through next Tuesday, 26 February 2013, I am conducting a survey of anyone identifying themselves as a professional genealogist. For more details and the link to the survey, please read the announcement here.

First, I would like to thank all of those professionals who have taken the time to respond to my survey. The more people respond, the more accurate this portrait of our community will be, and the better we might understand ourselves.

I would like to also respond to some of the questions I have received in various forums.

1. This survey is completely anonymous. At no point do I ask for your name or any contact information. I do ask for the ZIP code for US residents. I am gathering this information as a way to map out where US professional genealogists live. Do certain areas have a higher concentration of professionals than others? If so, do these areas correspond to high population centers, active genealogical societies or APG chapters, or major genealogical repositories? (Or is there some other factor that might affect the concentration of professional genealogists?)

Several people have pointed out that I might be able to identify respondents using their ZIP code. I can only assure respondents that I will not do that. I am not interested in individual data—only the collective statistics. I will not share the ZIP codes with anyone else. When I discuss the results, I will only discuss in terms of states or regions.

2. The survey is lacking in international representation. I definitely want input from international professional genealogists. I simply don’t know a lot of the intricacies of international genealogy communities. This ignorance is most glaring when it comes to the membership organizations and educational opportunities available. Please complete the survey anyway. There are a few free-form boxes for membership organizations and educational opportunities where you can input your responses.

3. The survey is not just for those who conduct research for clients. The sole qualifying question is whether you consider yourself a professional genealogist. You do not have to conduct client research, you do not have to be credentialed, and you do not have to be a member of any particular organization. In fact, part of the goal of the survey is to capture data from those who consider themselves professional genealogists but may not fit into older models of what a professional genealogist is and does.

4. The survey does not require any answers about income. It does ask a few questions about income, but these questions offer “Decline to answer” as an option. Money is always something that people get rightfully anxious about discussing.

There were other questions concerning income that I considered asking. For example, what percentage of your income stems from research, writing, lecturing, etc.? However, I decided that two or three questions about income were more than enough. Perhaps in a future survey, these other questions can be asked (whether by myself or by someone else).

For the sake of uniformity, and recognizing that my reach is somewhat geographically-limited, all questions concerning income are in U. S. dollars. For international members who use other currencies, please try to estimate a conversion into U. S. dollars if you choose to respond to those questions.

———

I hope these additional explanations help to alleviate some of your concerns. To take the survey, use the link in this post.

Creating a portrait of professional genealogy

The March 2007 issue of the Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly published the results of a member survey.[1] It is the most recent portrait (of which I am aware) of the community of professional genealogists. In 2012, the APG conducted another membership survey, but its goal was not to paint a portrait of the community, but to determine the direction of the future of the organization. Its results have not yet been published.

I believe it is time for a new portrait of the professional genealogy community. A lot has changed in the past five years:

  • Ancestry.com instituted (and then discontinued) the ExpertConnect program, introducing many genealogists to the profession and strengthening the client market.
  • Social media and the Internet–including blogs, Facebook, and Twitter–decimated the “wall” between professional genealogists and our avocational counterparts.
  • The membership of the Association of Professional Genealogists has grown from just over 1800 members to over 2500 members.
  • APG has grown into a truly international organization, with chapters in Ontario, Canada, and Western Canada, as well as the Internet-based Virtual Chapter.[2] New chapters are currently being organized in the British Isles and Australia/New Zealand.[3]

The most glaring omission in APG’s previous surveys is that the surveys targeted only those professionals who were, at the time, members of APG. There are many professional genealogists who are not members of APG, for various reasons.

As this blog’s stated purpose is to support and educate professionals and aspiring professionals, I have designed a survey to try to meet these goals. I would like to produce a portrait of the professional genealogist community. This survey is not, in any way, sponsored or endorsed by the Association of Professional Genealogists or any other organization.

I would like to invite any who consider themselves professional genealogists–whether your business focus is research, education, publishing, or something entirely different–to complete this survey. Please share this post freely, so that the survey might reach those professionals who may not otherwise find it.

The survey is anonymous–it does not inquire the names of any respondents. The questions are relatively straightforward, and should not take more than 5 or 10 minutes to complete.

[Click here for answers to some common questions/concerns regarding the survey. Added 21 Feb 2013.]

The survey will be open for one week, beginning today, 19 February 2013, and closing on 26 February 2013. Sometime in the future I will discuss the results in this blog.

Click here to take the survey

Note: I do recognize that there is one shortcoming inherent in the survey. As it is being produced and shared online, only those professional genealogists with an online presence will be able to respond. In today’s world, with the Internet as prevalent as it is, am hoping that this will create only a small, reasonable, and acceptable margin of error.

SOURCES:

[1] Sharon Tate Moody, CG, “Who Are We?: A By-the-Numbers Look at the Average APG Member,” Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly, March 2007, 5–7.

[2] “Chapters,” Association of Professional Genealogists (http://www.apgen.org/chapters/index.html : accessed 19 February 2013).

[3] Minutes, Association of Professional Genealogists Board Meeting, FGS Conference – Birmingham, Alabama, 31 August 2012, “Board Meeting Minutes,” Association of Professional Genealogists: Members Only (http://www.apgen.org : accessed 19 February 2013); content available to members only.

Writing the Ridgelys

On 11 August 2010 National Park Service archaeologists at Monocacy National Battlefield announced that, using clues from the historical record, they had discovered the remains of several slave cabins dating from ca. 1794–1827.[1] I remember reading the Washington Post report on the discovery, and thinking I would love to research the families that lived there.

Within two months, I received an interesting telephone call from the owner of African American genealogy website Afrigeneas. They had been contacted by Essence Magazine for a feature piece, and needed someone with experience researching slaves in Maryland. With the deadline looming I was able to identify one of the slaves owned by the Vincendiere family and trace his descendants down to a journalist in Pittsburgh. His obituary named his ex-wife and a daughter, both still living. The piece, “A Legacy of Love and Pride,” by Robin D. Stone, appeared in the February 2011 issue of Essence.[2]

I decided to follow this with an article discussing some of the research I had done—the methodology, not just the results. On 21 February 2011 I published “Researching the descendants of the Vincendiere slaves, part one” in the African American Genealogy column I wrote on Examiner.com.[3] I originally intended this short piece as part of a series describing the research I had conducted on the family. The first part garnered some attention from the right people. Within another few weeks I received an email—and then a phone call—from the Cultural Resources Program Manager of Monocacy Battlefield, Joy Beasley. We met for lunch and discussed a potential project.

To make a long story short, the National Park Service hired me to research the lives and descendants of all of the slaves living in the slave village—all of the slaves owned by the Vincendiere family. When all was said and done, several months later, I delivered a report over 900 pages in total length, including document images. I had discovered the identities of slaves and their descendants not only in Maryland, but also in Louisiana. One of these families was the Ridgely family.

The Ridgely family—including mother Caroline Ridgely, her children, and their descendants—fascinated me. Their stories were remarkable. All of them had been freed by 1860. Caroline’s son Cornelius Ridgely served in the U. S. Navy during the Civil War. A number of the descendants graduated from various universities. Several became doctors or dentists in Baltimore and Washington, D. C. One descendant worked for the National Park Service during the 1930s before serving in World War II, and later became principal of a Washington, D. C., high school not far from where I worked in Washington. The family story seemed perfect for a three- or four-generation family history narrative. The story wrote itself.

Writing a family history narrative uses different skills than does writing a proof argument or a case study. The one piece of advice I would give anyone attempting to write such a piece is to identify a common theme that holds the story together. This technique produces a compelling narrative.

After I had finished it, I spent about a month editing it. Reading it and re-reading it. Making sure the sentences were concise and the paragraphs were topical. Finally, just a few days before the deadline, I mailed copies to the National Genealogical Society, for its annual Family History Writing Contest.

Several months passed. Finally I received a response. I had won First Place. The prize was an all-expenses-paid trip to the NGS Conference and possible publication in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly. As I was already speaking at the 2012 Conference just a month or so later, I was given the option of attending the 2013 Conference in Las Vegas.

For publication in the Quarterly, more work still needed to be done. The Contest judges had provided me with comments for improving the article. Taking these into consideration, I went into another round of editing and rewriting. Finally I submitted the product to Thomas W. Jones and Melinde Lutz Byrne, the editors of the Quarterly.

A short while later, the editors came back to me with more edits and a few items that needed follow-up. Another round and I resubmitted the article.

After all was said and done, the editors sent me a final draft. This draft was in the familiar format of the Quarterly—the fonts, the spacing, the header and footer. It was a very exciting day for me. Having an article published in the preeminent genealogical journal in the United States had been a long-term goal of mine. I was finally at the last step.

Of course, the rest of the issue had to be laid out. It had to go to the printer. I had to wait for the issue to be completed.

About two weeks ago, my two-and-a-half-year journey had reached a new milestone. I received my copies of the December 2012 issue of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly. My article, “In the Shadow of Rebellions: Maryland Ridgelys in Slavery and Freedom,” was the first in the issue.[4]

This research has not yet reached its final conclusion. Who knows where it may take me next?

SOURCES:

[1] “Slave Village Discovered in Maryland,” press release, 11 August 2010, National Park Service, Monocacy National Battlefield, Maryland (http://www.nps.gov/mono/slavevillage2010.htm : accessed 16 February 2013).

[2] Robin D. Stone, “A Legacy of Love and Pride,” Essence Magazine, February 2011, 122–127.

[3] Michael Hait, “Researching the descendants of the Vincendiere slaves, part one,” posted 21 February 2011, in “National African American Genealogy” column, Examiner.com (http://www.examiner.com/article/researching-the-descendants-of-the-vincendiere-slaves-part-one : accessed 16 February 2013).

[4] Michael Hait, CG, “In the Shadow of Rebellions: Maryland Ridgelys in Slavery and Freedom,” National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Volume 100 (Dec 2012): 245–266.

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