Select Page

Virtually, with proper social distancing

This will, of course, come as a shock to all the readers of this blog but…

The Legal Genealogist loves to travel around the country and share the gems of genealogy and the law with other genealogists and genealogical societies.

Not the easiest thing to do in this time of crisis.

And, as expected when the news began to be grim, society after society has been forced to cancel event after event scheduled for 2020.

Particularly the ones schedule for truly close-in dates have had no choice but to cancel: the venues are closed and people are doing just what they’ve been told to do: stay home.

And then there are the inventive, tech-savvy, “we can do this” folks of the St. Louis Genealogical Society who, with almost no time to prepare, have turned their 48th Annual Family History Conference into a virtual online conference.

St Louise conference

What was to have been an all-day multi-track conference on April 4 will now be presented online in three parts: (1) two live presentations on Saturday, April 18, (2) two live presentations on Sunday, April 19, and (3) the entire set of 10 recorded presentations available afterwards (including the recordings of the four live presentations).

On Saturday, April 18, I’ll be presenting live:

The Discriminating Genealogist: Telling Good Evidence From Bad, 1:00 p.m (Central Time): The “best evidence” rule in law requires the presentation in court of an original rather than a copy, and a copy won’t even be admitted if the original is available. In genealogy, our rules require us to do the same: to discriminate, choose in favor of, and prefer certain types of evidence to others, certain bits of information to others, and certain sources to others.

Living with Legal Lingo, 3:00 p.m. (Central Time): The language of the law is part Greek, part French, part Latin, even part Saxon—and all confusing. Every family’s records are chock full of legal lingo that can appear utterly baffling to even an experienced genealogist. But whether it’s for a family as famous as Daniel Boone’s, or one as ordinary as yours or mine, understanding the legal lingo in the records is a critical part of understanding the records themselves.

On Sunday, April 19, I’ll be presenting live:

“Death by Undue Means” — Coroners’ Records, 1:00 p.m. (Central Time): From colonial times to today, death not attributable to natural causes required investigation. Elected or appointed coroners worked with local juries to determine more about what caused each death. Learn more about coroners’ records and how to use them in genealogy.

“Don’t Forget the Ladies” — A Genealogist’s Guide to Women and the Law, 3:00 p.m. (Central Time): In early America, women were all too often the people who just weren’t there: not in the records, not in the censuses, not on juries, not in the voting booth. The common law relegated women to “protected”—second-class—status and understanding how they were treated under the law provides clues to finding their identities today.

Added to those will be recorded presentations, coming online after the live-event weekend:

Civil War Eyewitness, presented by Dennis Northcott (associate archivist for the Missouri Historical Society Library & Research Center): View the Civil War through the eyes of those who witnessed this turbulent period in our nation’s history. Hear firsthand accounts of the war from the battlefield and the home front found in letters, diaries, and other documents within the Missouri Historical Society’s archival collections.

What Not to Do: Six Hard Lessons in Family History Research, presented by Jacob Eubanks and Dan Lilienkamp, JD (assistant manager and reference specialist, respectively, of the History & Genealogy Department at St. Louis County Library ): As more records become available from databases such as Ancestry and FamilySearch, the temptation is strong to adopt a lackadaisical approach to research. Participants will learn six hard lessons in what to do to ensure they are conducting “reasonably exhaustive research.”

Life and Death at Missouri Statehood: Gleaning Genealogical Details from Frontier Inventories, presented by John Dougan (chief administrator for the Records and Archives Division of the Office of the Secretary of State of Missouri): Estate inventories tell us a lot about our ancestors—how they lived and what they valued. This presentation of period records analyzes cultural trends on the Missouri frontier, reviews the legal framework for disposing early 19th-century estate assets, and provides inventory interpretation strategies to make them much more than just a list of your ancestor’s possessions.

Hidden Treasures: Tips and Rewards for Researching in Manuscript Collections, presented by Bill Eddleman, PhD (associate director of the Cape Girardeau Research Center of the State Historical Society of Missouri): Many family historians fail to use manuscript collections in their research, either because they are unaware of them or think they are difficult to find. We will summarize the documents to locate in manuscript collections and how that information can help. Discussion will include a method for locating your family in archival collections, and how to access the collections. Examples will emphasize Missouri families and collections.

”This Indenture Made This . . .” Finding Ancestors in Deeds, presented by Bill Eddleman, PhD: Often deed records require a deeper level of understanding to use them effectively. An estimated eighty percent of men owned land during the 19th-century, and deeds often document relationships. This is an overview of locating the information researchers can find, including other records. Examples will document families and relationships from deeds in Missouri counties.

Using Technology in Genealogy Research, presented by Cathy Amen (lecturer with the St. Louis Genealogical Society): Genealogy can be enhanced with today’s technology tools. Here is an overview of software, scanners, photo-editing apps, organizational tools, and more. Find out how you can be more productive.

So if you’re looking for something to do April 18-19, you can come on out — virtually, of course — and join us. There’s a limit of 100 “seats” for the four live presentations, but no limit to the number of folks who’ll be able to tune in at their own convenience and watch the recordings of any or all of the 10 lectures.

It’s $55 for members of the St. Louis Genealogical Society, and $65 for non-members. More information and registration links can be found at

So meet me in St. Louis, Louis… for the 48th Annual Family History Conference… virtually, with proper social distancing.

Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “Meet me in St. Louis…,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 7 Apr 2020).

Print Friendly, PDF & Email