Discovering Your Roots: An Introduction to Genealogy
Dr. John Philip Colletta is one of America's most popular genealogy lecturers. He is a faculty member at the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama; the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy; and Boston University's Genealogical Research Program. Dr. Colletta also has been an instructor and course coordinator for the National Institute on Genealogical Research, the Genealogical Institute of Texas, and the Genealogical Institute of Mid-America. He earned his Ph.D. from The Catholic University of America.
For 20 years, Dr. Colletta worked at the Library of Congress and taught workshops at the National Archives. Today, he lectures nationally, teaches at local schools, and conducts programs for the Smithsonian Institution's Resident Associate Program. His clients have included Johns Hopkins University, St. Louis Public Library, Daughters of the American Revolution, Brigham Young University, the Historical Society of North Dakota, the Huntington Library (San Mateo, CA), and the Genealogical Society of Ontario, Canada.
Dr. Colletta's publications include numerous articles, both popular and scholarly; two manuals, They Came in Ships: A Guide to Finding Your Immigrant Ancestor's Arrival Record and Finding Italian Roots: The Complete Guide for Americans; and the narrative family history, Only a Few Bones: A True Account of the Rolling Fork Tragedy and Its Aftermath. Dr. Colletta appears frequently on podcasts and radio and television programs. His honors include distinguished service awards from the Dallas Genealogical Society and the National Society of Daughters of Founders and Patriots of America.
01: Interviewing Kin and Mining Home Sources
One of the foundations of genealogy (and one of its most enjoyable aspects): interviewing relatives. Here, Dr. Colletta introduces you to several strategies and 10 vital tips to help you get the most out of sitting down with family members and transforming pleasant conversations into solid foundations for future detective work.
02: Genealogy Online-Gems and Junk
It's unthinkable to do genealogy today without the Internet. But not all online sources are reliable. First, take a look at the benefits (and drawbacks) of government, nonprofit, and commercial online sites. Then, learn how to make sense of U.S. population censuses-the most important record for constructing lineage in America.
03: The Library-Shelves Full of Family History
Learn how to tap into the wealth of library material to get solid answers to the "why" behind events in the past. You'll tour genealogies and family histories; histories of states, counties, cities, and towns; the Periodical Source Index (PERSI); and several types of maps (which help ground events in the physical world).
04: Military Service and Homestead Records
Holding a document your ancestor once held is a thrilling experience; and this intimate link to your forebears is more readily accessible than ever. Train yourself to navigate through both military records (including service and pension records) and homestead files (which encompass 33 public domain states from 1863 to the 1970s).
05: How to Build Historical Context
Step away from research and explore how to use historical content to transform your facts into engaging life stories. Dr. Colletta reveals seven steps for building effective historical context, including examining your sources in light of local history, and using history to test a hypothesis about how an event transpired.
06: Your Ancestors in Ship Passenger Lists
Learn how to make sense of passenger arrival records: the single most precious document for reconstructing your ancestors' voyage to North America. Using several key guideposts and sources (including colonial land records and immigrant directories), you can uncover facts about arrivals from colonial days through the 1950s.
07: Your Ancestors in Naturalization Records
Did your immigrant ancestors become U.S. citizens? Did they procrastinate, or not naturalize at all? Dr. Colletta reveals how naturalization records can answer these and other biographical questions. You'll focus on adapting your research to three major naturalization periods: prior to 1790, 1790 to 1906, and 1906 to today.
08: The Genealogical Proof Standard
Strengthen your skills as a family history detective with this in-depth look at the Genealogical Proof Standard, the five-step process that certified genealogists use for proving ancestral identities, relationships, life events, and other biographical details. Then, wrap up the lecture with a fascinating look at the nature of evidence.
09: Your Ancestors in the County Courthouse
Discover how to work your way through the courthouse records of the county where your ancestors resided. Using the two most common types of courts (circuit and chancery), you'll examine how to read courthouse materials, including probate packets, vital records, tax rolls, and even colonial-era records such as indentures and apprenticeships.
10: Your Ancestors in State Records
Good genealogists always take advantage of local sources outside the courthouse as well, including state archives, which hold records that resulted between the administration of state laws. Here, you'll learn how to tap into the information found in original sources (such as census and military records) and derivative sources (including maps and newspapers).
11: How to Write Biography
Explore the process of writing about your ancestors in a way that's memorable-but that always adheres to the truth. Learn how to compose timelines; how to build historical context around life events; how to search for (and find) a life's central theme; how to select the right literary format; and more.
12: Dos and Don'ts of Writing History
Writing about the past is fraught with snares. Find out how to sidestep them with Dr. Colletta's dos and don'ts for writing historical narratives. These include using period vocabulary; evoking the senses through sounds, textures, and aromas; and avoiding the danger of viewing the past through the lens of the present.
13: Searching in Your Ancestors' Backyards
At some point during your detective work, you'll have to actually visit where your ancestors lived. In this helpful lecture, discover how to use key local resources you'll need to rely on for success in your research: cemeteries, records of churches and synagogues, city directories, local libraries, and historical societies.
14: Assembling an Account of Your Discoveries
You've learned how to build context and write an engaging narrative. Now, examine the best ways to organize your material and assemble a lasting account of your unique heritage. What are the fundamental questions you'll need to answer before writing? What are the five elements essential to any multigenerational account?
15: Extending Your Family Tree Overseas
Conclude the course with a peek at how to research records outside the United States. Focusing on his experiences in Europe, Dr. Colletta reveals what essential facts you need to know about your immigrant ancestors, and how to overcome six major challenges to accessing and using historical materials in foreign countries.