The Genealogical Committee, an auxiliary of the Western Reserve Historical Society is pleased to announce our Fall Seminar, “Making a Federal Case: Federal Land Records and Government Documents.”
This seminar, presented by professional genealogist, Claire Bettag, CG, FUGA, offers four lectures focusing on lesser-used, but invaluable resources—specifically federal land records and “gov docs.”
Please join us to learn more about these records, what information they contain, and how to access and use these overlooked sources.
9:30-10:30 Nara At Your Fingertips
Genealogists can use resources of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) to plan an on-site research trip or to work from home. Using online or published resources and communicating with NARA—electronically or by postal mail, telephone, or fax—puts NARA resources at your fingertips. Discussion guides researchers through NARA’s web site and discusses other tactics for getting the most out of the archives resources.
11:00-12:00Federal Land Records
The National Archives preserves federal land records that hold great genealogical value. This lecture focuses primarily on the largest, and arguably the most important set of federal land records: land entry papers. Sometimes such records are the only ones that can break down the proverbial “brick walls” in a family’s history. Background information, record content, how to access, and genealogical value will be discussed.
12:00-1:30 Lunch – boxed lunches will be available for purchase the day of the seminar.
1:30-2:30 Bounty-Land Records
From 1788 to 1855 Congress authorized land bounties to reward veterans for military service or to attract enlistments. That included service in the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Mexican War, and Indian conflicts of the 1850s. Records available at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) related to bounty lands are valuable for genealogists. They include both bounty-land applications submitted to the government by veterans wishing to obtain veterans’ benefits, and surrendered bounty-land warrants, exchanged at land offices in exchange for land. Discussion focuses on the nature, content, and genealogical value of bounty-land records, and on how to locate them at NARA.
3:00-4:00 Government Documents and Serial Set
The U.S. Serial Set, published by the U.S. Government Printing Office, is part of a vast collection of published public documents popularly known as “Gov Docs” (government documents). The Serial Set ranks among the most valuable genealogical resources for family historians. Containing records of the U.S. Congress, executive agencies, independent commissions, and other entities, it provides a wealth of information, often untapped by researchers. Its genealogical value derives largely from the immeasurable volume of information it contains, all official records deemed important enough to be published as public records, with potentially excellent genealogical value. These published records are easily available to researchers throughout the country and beyond, even when original records are not within reach.
About the Speaker
Claire Bettag, CG, FUGA, is a certified professional genealogist based in Washington D.C. whose research focuses on French and Acadian family history. She conducts research in Louisiana, Europe, and Washington. She lectures at the National Institute on Genealogical Research (NIGR), and frequently at other institutes (the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, the Genealogy and Research Institute of Pittsburgh, and the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research at Samford University) and at national and regional conventions.
A contributing author to Professional Genealogy, she has also published articles in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, APG Quarterly, and other genealogical publications. She has served as the director of NIGR and a ProGen mentor, and on the boards of NGS, APG, and BCG. Currently she is on the editorial board of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly and she volunteers at the National Archives. Her M.A. in French is from Columbia University; she has studied in France as a Fulbright fellow, and in Quebec, Spain, and Mexico.