MGS Day at MSA

Saturday I attended “MGS Day at MSA”.  Maryland Genealogical Society members were invited to register for a session on accessing records at the Maryland State Archives and taking a behind the scenes tour of the library.

Although I have done research at MSA many times, I still decided to register.  The fee was nominal and you never know when you can pick up some new tips.  I also had a few general questions about some records and hoped for an opportunity to get those questions answered.

Michael McCormick, the Director of Reference Services for MSA (I hope I got that right) led the session.  Time was short (an hour) but I managed to get my questions answered and pick up a few hints about specific record series.  Yay!

Then it came time for the tour.  It is hard to visualize the amount of records the Archives houses while you are searching the website, or even when you are there requesting records to be pulled.  You fill out your pull slip and the staff goes back to that mysterious room in the back and comes out with a book, a box, etc. for you.  Saturday I got a peek at that mysterious room.  Rows and rows of shelves of materials, it was awesome!  Especially when we were told that the room we were in was one of four floors of records with even more stored off-site at another facility.

I still have lots of ancestors to find in all those stacks!!

We also got a look at the areas where digitization and conservation takes place.  Very interesting but sad as well to see types of destruction that has happened to some of the records.

Insect damage to a Colonial Patent book

After the tour I had some lunch and then did a little research.  I had done my pre-visit research and had a list of records to take a look at.  Although I didn’t get through everything I had on my list I got copies of several items on my list.

All in all, a successful day at the Archives!

Gettin’ My Learn On

This past Saturday I attended a seminar that was jointly hosted by the Maryland Genealogical Society and the Maryland Historical Society called “Finding You War of 1812 Ancestors”.  The seminar is just a small part of many events celebrating the anniversary of Maryland’s involvement in the War of 1812.  There were several speakers and it was very informative.
Although I have yet to identify an ancestor that was involved in the War of 1812 I am so glad I attended.  Not only did I learn a lot about specific events of the war and Maryland’s heroes, records and resources available for the participants, but I found both the museum and the library of the Maryland Historical Society FASCINATING!!
I am embarrassed to admit that this was my first visit to the Maryland Historical Society. It definitely will not be my last! 

The museum had some great exhibits.  One of the new exhibits is “BEARINGS of Baltimore, Circa 1815“.  University of Maryland Baltimore County researchers have created an interactive display of Baltimore in 1815.  It does not show everything, but it does include many Baltimore landmarks.  You can zoom around and overlay Baltimore in 2014 as well.  Again, the 2014 doesn’t show everything but enough to get your bearings (ha ha). 
Then there is the library. WOW!!!  I am definitely taking a couple vacation days to spend time researching there.  I was lucky enough to be seated at a table with a nice lady who had visited many times and offered to show me around during the lunch break.  I would have investigated anyway, but she gave me some great hints and showed me where specific items were located.
I already have identified some things I will be searching for on a trip there soon.

Time For A Refresher

Although I have been researching my family for over 10 years I cannot honestly say that I am completely comfortable navigating any of the repositories I have used.

I am lucky in that on this side of “the pond”, most of my research is contained in a couple counties in Maryland, as well as Baltimore City and York County in Pennsylvania.  My family apparently saw no reason to venture outside of this small corner of the world once they got here.  I haven’t either as I live in the same area as my ancestors.

Because my research is so concentrated in Maryland, I should be an “expert” at searching Maryland repositories.  However, I feel my knowledge is woefully inadequate.
I am a member of several local societies and groups but have not taken advantage of their services.
I am relatively comfortable with the library system and knowing what library branches have what material.
I am comfortable with finding records for various local cemeteries.
I have been to the Maryland State Archives numerous times (although not as many times as I would like), mostly for death, marriage and church records.  I know that there is a lot more available there and I have not yet explored all of it.
I have not done any courthouse research, honestly it intimidates me.  I need to get over this and become more familiar with the records available at local courthouses.
There are a lot of records (or at least indexes) available on-line for Maryland and I am pretty familiar with those resources.

One set of records that has been available on-line and I need to delve into more are Land Records.  I have had accounts to access these records for quite a few years and have done a few searches (admittedly, mostly on myself). 

So I decided to take a stab at improving my skills this year and since this year is almost halfway over I need to get cracking!
What luck that the Maryland Genealogical Society is holding a Basics+ Workshop on Maryland Land Records and Resources this Saturday, May 31!!
I am all registered and am looking forward to attending.  This will be the first genealogical event I have attended (sad, I know…but you gotta start somewhere) but certainly not my last.