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Virtual Research Tour to Washington, D.C.

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DC Library of Congress

Virtual Research Tour to Washington, D.C.
Live broadcasts: March 24 – 27, 2021
Cost: $475

Washington, D.C. is home to some of the most important repositories for genealogists. Whether you are doing research on your veteran ancestor, immigrant ancestor, homesteading ancestor—or simply want to leverage published resources, newspapers, and maps in your family history research—our nation’s capital holds the records you need. While we are unable to bring a group to Washington, D.C. this year, this four-day virtual research program will bring D.C. to you! We will devote time to each of the major repositories in Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Record Administration, Library of Congress, and DAR Library, receiving orientations from archivists and experts at each research center. Through 13 lectures, our genealogists will then help you contextualize the collections and make the most of these resources from afar. In addition to the orientations and lectures, participants will benefit from real-time demonstrations and activities, chatting with experts and fellow participants, and will receive a one-hour consultation with a genealogist in the week following the program.

This program includes:
  • • Orientation and Introduction from repository experts
  • • 13 lectures from American Ancestors/NEHGS staff
  • • 1-hour of one-on-one consultation time with American Ancestors/NEHGS staff to be scheduled during the week following the program
  • • Access to session recordings, handouts, and other materials

Day 1: DAR Library and Archives; Researching Your American Revolutionary War Veterans
Day 2: NARA; Researching Bounty Land, Homesteaders, and Civil War Pension Files
Day 3: NARA; Immigration Research in the 19th and 20th centuries
Day 4: Library of Congress: Using Published Resources, Newspapers, and Maps in your Family History Research

    Wednesday, March 24th: DAR Library and Archives; Researching Revolutionary War Veterans
    9:30 AM: Welcome and Introductions
    10:30 AM: DAR Library Orientation Session
    12:00 PM: Break for Lunch
    1:00 PM: Getting to Know Your Revolutionary War Veteran Ancestor, David Allen Lambert
    This first lecture will discuss how muster rolls, manuscript materials, published histories, lineage society databases, and more can help you establish your ancestor’s service and explore their role in the American Revolution. We will also review key repositories to begin—and deepen—your research.
    2:15 PM: Break
    2:30 PM: Using Revolutionary War Pension Records, Melanie McComb
    Revolutionary War pensions offer important information about a veteran’s service, their family, and life after the war. This session will discuss who was eligible to receive a pension, where to find them, what information is provided, how to navigate these records, and offer strategies for leveraging these records in your family history.
    3:45 PM: Break
    4:00 PM: Proving Your Descent and Applying to Lineage Societies, Katrina Fahy
    This final presentation will highlight some of the many lineage societies that exist to honor our patriot ancestors. We will discuss their application process and requirements, demonstrate how to prove—and document--your descent, and offer strategies for when you can’t find necessary vital records.


    Thursday, March 25: NARA; Researching Pension Files and Bounty Land
    10:00 AM: NARA Orientation Session
    11:30 AM: Break for Lunch
    1:00 PM: Using Bounty Land Warrants in Family History Research, Ann Lawthers
    From 1775 to 1855 the United States awarded bounty-land warrants to veterans of the Revolution, War of 1812, the Mexican War, and Indian Wars. These grants may not have only affected your family’s migrations, but greatly impacted the reach and settlement of the fledgling nation. This class will discuss who was eligible to receive bounty land warrants, what records exist documenting the grants, where to find these resources, and ultimately determine if your ancestor received a warrant.
    2:15 PM: Break
    2:30 PM: Homesteaders: Using Land Entry Case Files in Your Family History, Melanie McComb
    The Homestead Act of 1862 encouraged mass settlement of federal lands in the frontier, resulting in millions of records documenting the transfer of public land to private ownership. Learn how these land entry case files can assist in researching your homesteading ancestors.
    3:45 PM: Break
    4:00 PM: Using Civil War Pension Records, David Allen Lambert
    Pension records can offer a goldmine of information for family historians. This session will discuss who was eligible to receive pension records, where to find them, what information is provided, how to navigate these records, and offer strategies for getting the most out of these important records.


    Friday, March 26: NARA; 19th and 20th-Century Immigration Files
    10:00 AM: History of Immigration to America: 19th and 20th Centuries, Rhonda R. McClure
    This class will provide the important context for understanding your ancestors’ emigrant experience in the 19th and 20th centuries; with special consideration of what records were created and how immigration policies changed over the period. We will discuss who was coming to America, the reasons for emigrating, how world events affected immigration, the arrival process, and ports of entry, plus the introduction of the quota system, visas, and increased legislation.
    11:30 AM: Break for Lunch
    1:00 PM: Reading and Locating Passenger Lists, Lindsay Fulton
    Passenger lists changed drastically from their advent in the early 19th century through the 20th century. To fully understand and analyze passenger lists, we need to understand how they were created, what information is included, and what inferences can be made. This class will also discuss strategies for narrowing your search when a passenger list can’t be found and piecing together an entire family’s movements to the United States.
    2:15 PM: Break
    2:30 PM: Immigration Records, James Heffernan
    Beyond the all-important passenger list, immigration to America resulted in the creation of several other records. This class will demonstrate how to utilize several records, including: passports (both those from the origin nation and those later applied for by naturalized US citizens), border crossings, C-Files (naturalization certificates, 1906-1956), AR-2 Files (Alien Registration Forms, 1940-1944), WWI Alien Registrations (1918, gathered by each state), Visa Files (1924-1944), A-Files (1944-1951), and the Arolsen Archive database, which documents European refugee arrivals following Nazi persecution.
    3:45 PM: Break
    4:00 PM: Immigrant Investigation and Deportation Case Files, Rhonda R. McClure
    An immigrant could be turned away from entering the United States for a variety of reasons: bad health, likely to become a public charge, political allegiance, etc. This final class will review materials found in Record Group 85 (RG 85) that pertain to deportation, immigrant investigation, and Chinese Exclusion Act case files. We’ll look at what information is provided, how to access the materials, and how they may be helpful in piecing together your family history


    Saturday, March 27: Library of Congress; Using Published Resources, Newspapers, and Maps
    10:00 AM: Library of Congress Orientation Session
    11:30 AM: Break for Lunch
    1:00 PM: Using and Evaluating Published Genealogies, Alicia Crane Williams
    Following the advent of American genealogy in the early to mid-19th century, thousands of genealogies were published featuring families across the country. While largely uncited—and arguably biased—these early works continue to be an important resource for modern day family historians. Learn how you can access, evaluate, and utilize early published family histories in your research.
    2:15 PM: Break
    2:30 PM: Read All About It! Techniques to Find Your Ancestors in Newspapers, Melanie McComb
    Newspapers were the first form of "social media" and captured more than just obituaries. From birth announcements to crime reports to land sales, this session will delve into the wealth of information that can be found in newspapers. Learn what information is available, how it can help you in your family history research, and how to access these important resources, both online and offline.
    3:45 PM: Break
    4:00 PM: Using Maps in Your Family History Research, Hallie Borstel
    From tracing ancestors on the move to understanding boundary changes to just becoming acquainted with the landscape of your ancestors' lives, maps are an incredibly important resource in your family history research. This session explores various ways in which maps can help broaden your genealogical horizons.

    Schedule subject to change.


Live sessions will be broadcast through Zoom Video Conferencing. Information about accessing both live and recorded content will be sent to participants ahead of time. Access to a personal device, and internet connection is required to take full advantage of this program.

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