Thursday, November 3, 2011

Marian's "Cracking the Case of Nathan Brown's Parents" Webinar

I had the pleasure of watching the Legacy Family Tree webinar presented on Wednesday by Marian Pierre-Louis titled "Brick Walls: Cracking the Case of Nathan Brown's Parents."  This webinar is free to watch until 14 November 2011, and I encourage all of my readers to watch it.  Go to and scroll down to the Archived Webinars and click on the "Watch Now" button.

The description of this webinar is:

"Join Marian Pierre-Louis as she cracks the long-standing brick wall surrounding Nathan Brown's parents (Geoff Rasmussen's brick wall). Marian will share the analysis process she used to find Nathan's parents. Certain techniques, which you can apply to your own research, can be used to unravel difficult genealogical problems. Follow that up with primary documents to confirm the relationships and the mystery is solved. At the end Marian will reveal - live - a big surprise about Geoff Rasmussen's ancestry based on this new information. Legacy Family Tree webinars host, Geoff Rasmussen, will undoubtedly be in a great mood, so there will likely be some fantastic door prizes given away. This is one webinar you will not want to miss."

In this one hour presentation, Marian demonstrated how rich the trove of New England records are, how to search for persons with a common surname, how to pursue a "reasonably exhaustive search" for records of an elusive ancestor, and how to analyze direct and indirect evidence and resolve evidence conflicts.  At the end, she listed three research goals to further prove the parentage of Nathan Brown. 

The record types that Marian displayed included town vital records, land records, probate records, cemetery records, census records and town maps from Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut.  These are fairly "rich" record sets - not totally complete, but much more complete than records in many other states.  All of them are available in either the local or county repositories (town hall, courthouse, archives, etc.) or on microfilm (obtained from the Family History Library or available at the New England Historic Genealogical Society or another large repository). 

Marian used online resources as finding aids for records available for these localities, but had to visit repositories to obtain the records that were most critical to solving the research problem.  Further research to prove the relationships will strongly depend on original source records rather than online indexes and databases.  This was probably the most important message in the presentation - that you have to consult records that are not available online. 

I wasn't surprised by many of the comments made during the webinar (transmitted via the chat function), and on Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus,  that marveled at the use of indirect evidence to solve brick wall problems, as if it was a new concept to many researchers.  This type of research presentation is commonplace in the scholarly journals (e.g., National Genealogical Society Quarterly (NGSQ), New England Historical and Genealogical Register (NEHGR), The American Genealogist(TAG)).   However, "most" genealogy researchers don't read those publications, and therefore are not exposed to the concepts of the Genealogical Proof Standard and its application.

One result of this webinar was that I found that Geoff Rasmussen, the creator of Legacy Family Tree software, is a distant cousin of mine - we share at least Chad Browne and Caleb Carr, early Rhode Island colonists, and probably several more. 

1 comment:

Kay Haden said...

Hey Randy, I descend from Chad Browne twice - through two of the sons, John and Jeremiah. I already knew we shared Walter Allen who died 1681 charlestown, Suffolk, MA, and the Pickels of Hunterdon, NJ. Getting a little spooky! I also watched the seminar.