John Philip Colletta – Archives, Pickles, and the LOC

February 22nd, 2017 by National Genealogical Society Blog Editor

Records & Repositories, W159, “Understanding Archives: What They Are and How to Use Them”

Solving Problems, T203, “Hacks and Hookers and Putting Up Pickles: Snares of Yesteryear’s English”

Records & Repositories, F313, “The Library of Congress: An Introduction and Overview”

Bio: John Philip Colletta, PhD, FUGA, NGS conference lecturer, banquet, and key note speaker; faculty member, IGHR, SLIG, and Boston University; author of articles, manuals, and narrative family history.

“Understanding Archives: What They Are and How to Use Them” (W159, 4 pm, Wednesday, 10 May 2017). Most historical sources have not been published. Conducting a thorough search for ancestors must eventually turn to original records housed in archives. This lecture shows how archives differ from libraries and manuscript collections. It describes archival organization and finding aids used to access materials. Private, state, and the National Archives are all discussed. Websites are examined as the major portal to archives of all kinds, but published guides and manuals are also discussed. Take the mystery out of graduating from published materials to original sources!

“Hacks and Hookers and Putting Up Pickles: Snares of Yesteryear’s English” (T203, 8 am, Thursday, 11 May 2017). Our ancestors used a vocabulary based on where and when they lived, and what they did. Their words reflect a world of skills, tools, apparel, and customs that no longer exists. Records of any particular place, time, and family contain words unfamiliar to 21st-century researchers. Misinterpreting small words can lead to big mistakes. This entertaining (and participatory) lecture explores ways to arrive at an understanding of what old records really say.

“The Library of Congress: An Introduction and Overview” (F313, 9:30 am, Friday, 12 May 2017). The Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., is one of the country’s greatest repositories for genealogical research. Yet, because it is dauntingly huge and requires on-site research, it tends to be underutilized. This lecture takes the mystery and trepidation out of using our national library and demonstrates the tremendous benefits of making a research trip to Washington. It explores the institution’s website, sketches its history, describes the formalities for using it, and highlights the innumerable and often unique treasures it holds.

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