Another early start today (Tuesday) for breakfast and catching up online. Our first session today was on German church records. John discussed how church records brought the common man out of obscurity. Prior to these, you can only research nobility or the winners of history. With local parish records, every person has a name and a spot in the past. These are the records that will help you put together families and the joining of families (through marriage). They are the most important record group for German research.
After our church record introduction it was time to learn to read said records. The Germans used Gothic script, which is what has kept me from ordering parish records from the villages I have identified as my ancestral home. After a couple hours of reading words and paragraphs with his Gothic script font, I was a parish reading rock star. Then came the copies of actual parish registers after lunch and it was like I had never seen these characters before. As with anything, this will be a skill I learn in a slow and steady manner. I intend to practice as much as possible on films from the FHL when I get back to Syracuse.
After dinner tonight, I purchased my pile of books which will make for some interesting reading for German research and narrative writing. Then I headed to Rick and Pamela Boyer Sayre’s lecture on Google Earth for Genealogists: The Sequel. This was one of the lectures I was not able to attend at the NGS conference, so it was nice to have a second chance. I am amazed by all that you can create with Google Earth and all of the ways it can help in your research. I have to admit that it is not a program I use frequently, but I will be ordering some introductory books on it when I get home. The Sayre’s will be teaching a course on advanced land records at the 2013 GRIP which I am told is fantastic. Deciding which course to take next year is going to be tough.
The lecture ended at 8:30 and after dropping off my belongings I took a walk around campus. La Roche is a beautiful campus surrounded by the woods. They have large statues of the Stations of the Cross that lead down a gravel path toward the woods which ends at a cemetery. Since it was late, I did not make it all the way to the cemetery, but I plan on wandering around it tomorrow. Only a genealogical institute would have attendees excited by a cemetery on the grounds.
Our lectures Wednesday will be the Pennsylvania Germans, finding places of origin in Germany and typefaces, published sources and German-American newspapers. At night there is a public lecture on Pennsylvania Research, which I may not attend due to my lack of Pennsylvanian ancestry. I do have a great-great uncle who randomly got married in Scranton, however, so maybe they can tell me why (he and his wife were from and living in Buffalo).