Sunday, April 11, 2010

Barbara Renick presentations at SDGS on Saturday

Barbara Renick used case studies to effectively demonstrate “Finding Newspapers Online” and “The Five C’s for Success in Genealogy Today” to an audience of over 160 at the April 10th meeting.

In “Finding Newspapers Online,” she explained the “shotgun approach” and the “rifle approach” to finding newspaper resources. In the “shotgun approach,” a user searches online newspaper web sites and takes what they can get for the names and keywords used in the search fields. She showed results from NewspaperARCHIVE ($), Ancestry ($), GenealogyBank ($), Google News Archive,, ProQuest Historical Newspapers, Chronicling America, and several other sites.

In the “rifle approach,” the searcher uses online resources to determine what newspapers existed in the places and times that your ancestors lived, and then attempts to access copies of the newspapers through a web site, on microfilm, inter-library loan, a hired researcher, or visiting the repository yourself.

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) sponsored the U.S. Newspaper Program (USNP) to locate, catalog and preserve newspapers published from the 18th century to the present. This effort resulted in catalog entries in the Online Computer Library Center’s WorldCat meta-catalog ( The follow-on National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP) is a partnership with the Library of Congress to digitize and provide access to significant historic newspapers from across the USA.

You can read Barbara’s syllabus for this talk at

At the start of the “The Five C’s for Success in Genealogy Today” talk, Barbara noted that only 5% of all records currently are online, and that there is no one right way to do genealogy research.

The “Five C’s” that should be used to solve thorny research problems were: Classic and Computer resources; Collaborating with cousins; Citing sources consistently; and doing Comprehensive Searching The key word was “propinquity” – which means proximity, closeness, kinship, etc. In her first example, when Martha Gray married Edmond Gross in 1800 in Washington County, VA, they must have lived fairly near each other. When they moved to Campbell County, TN after their marriage, they may have lived near their relatives. The challenge was to find their parents by following the Five C’s.

Barbara used census records, tax lists, church records, family sources, vital records, maps, land records, probate records and common sense to find classic and computer resources to identify candidate families, and to trace siblings and cousins forward and backward in time. She emphasized finding original sources and not compiled sources, and comparing records from different years (for example, 1818 and 1823 tax lists with the 1820 census) to define family groups. Citing sources clearly, consistently and completely helps the researcher understand what has been reviewed and used. She recommended using the mantra Find > Cite > Search > Copy for every resource found (with or without positive results) in your research.

These presentations demonstrated practical research techniques while illustrating how difficult some “real life” research problems are. Breaking down brick walls is difficult, but researchers can do it by following Barbara’s recommendations.

I always learn something from Barbara's talks. The case studies she used here are very complicated, but they are "real" genealogy research problems that she is working on or has solved.

What I really appreciate is the emphasis on ALL record types, especially the "classic" resources in books, microfilm and paper. That message came through loud and clear in her talks!

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Yes---great presentation. Lots of good references and well organized. Your summary was very detailed and complete. Thank you again Randy.