Thursday, September 15, 2011

Midwest U.S. Research at SLIG with Kory Meyerink

Our SLIG guest blogger this week is Kory Meyerink, coordinator for Course 5:  Research in the Midwestern United States.

Researching in the Midwest states is one of the most important areas to learn about when doing U.S. genealogy for several reasons. That’s why the Midwest course has been one of the most popular courses in the history of the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. In fact, Midwest research is important even if you don’t have research in the eight states included in this course!

That’s a strong statement; can I back it up? Certainly. But first, let’s identify the eight states covered in the 2012 Institute course: Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Missouri. Well, what’s so special about those states? That list includes two of the most populous states in the nation (Ohio and Illinois) as well as an ethnic diversity that can’t be found elsewhere in America. More immigrants settled in the Midwest than any other region in the country and, since all Americans are descended from immigrants, the discussion of immigration sources and strategies will pertain to all American research. 

In addition the Midwest (especially Ohio and Missouri) is the gateway to the west. The vast majority of families who settled west of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers came through the Midwest and often lived there for several years. But, beyond that, the record collections and research strategies for Midwestern research pertain to almost all of the “western” states. Consider the following: Land records in the Midwest are all public domain lands, just as they are in the western states. Vital records in the Midwest set a pattern followed by most of the western states. The same is true of newspapers and other published records, including local histories and biographical sources. Their commercial success in the Midwest encouraged their development in the west, and even in the southern and eastern states. 

But, it’s not just about the west. Many of our ancestors lived in large cities all over the country, but the Midwest has the most. Once you’ve learned about research in Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Cleveland, etc., then you’ll be prepared for any other city, from New York to Atlanta to New Orleans. You see, it’s not about specific localities, but rather research principles that pertain to the Midwest that apply elsewhere. Ports of arrival may not be in the Midwest, but we certainly will be discussing passenger lists because of the flood of immigrants to the Midwest. The same principles for research ethnic and religious records in the Midwest pertain to other U.S. research areas. 

Paula Warren’s discussions of research repositories and manuscript collections will open everyone’s eyes and make you think about similar collections elsewhere in America. Yes, it’s true. Midwestern research is a foundation for your successful research in the rest of the U.S. and even elsewhere (consider Canada, Ireland, Germany, England, etc.). It’s also a favorite area for people taking the Accredited Genealogist exams, because so many potential clients have Midwest ancestry. 

So, review the course listing for the Midwest course and sign up. We’ll see you in January!

Visit the  UGA website for more information about how to register for Course 5 (or any of our other offerings at the 2012 Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy).

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