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Missouri Historical Society offers free video series about genealogical research

One of the hardest parts of tracing family history is determining where to start. The State Historical Society of Missouri can help.

The organization has released a series of 12 workshop videos aimed at teaching basic genealogy techniques. Hosted by Bill Eddleman, a professional genealogist and associate director of the society’s Cape Girardeau Research Center, each episode explores a different resource used to locate ancestor information and trace family history.

Earlier this year, the U.S. National Archives released the latest census records allowed by law, those from 1950. Census records are an important tool in family history research, and Eddleman discusses the census, its history and its use in genealogy. “The census is really the workhorse for many genealogists,” he said in part three of the series. “We learn a lot from the census, and it’s generally pretty accessible.”

Free and available online, “Basic Genealogy” explains how to use land, court, probate and vital records to find and follow the chronicles of an ancestor’s life. Eddleman also details a variety of popular online services and touches on how DNA testing has affected genealogical research. Additionally, Eddleman dives into using newspapers and manuscripts to expand upon a person’s story and illustrate the life beyond the records.

“We get an idea of the past and what it looked like from manuscript collections,” he said in part 10 of the series. “You might get insight into your ancestor, what they were doing, where they were located and even what sort of person they were if it’s a really good manuscript source.”

The series closes with a discussion about how to organize and preserve the research gathered. Find all 12 episodes online for free at https://shsmo.org/on-demand/basic-genealogy

Eddleman will return later this year with a series of specialty genealogy topics. The first takes place virtually at 1 p.m. on September 15 when he will discuss researching Civil War ancestors and highlight critical resources to explore. Registration is now open for this free workshop at: https://shsmo.org/events/2022/finding-your-civil-war-ancestor.


SHSMO-Cape Girardeau Associate Director Bill Eddleman shares advice and strategies for researching family histories in this free multipart series.

Bill Eddleman teaches us how to assemble what we already have—or can easily access—while giving tips on how to stay organized, interview relatives, keep focused, maintain a record of research, and determine research locations.
Bill Eddleman explains how to find and use online records that are free and discover what’s available from subscription services.
Bill Eddleman discusses the information found on censuses and how it has changed from 1790 through 1940. Eddleman also talks about special census schedules.
Vital records provide basic information about an individual, including birth, death, marriage, church, and cemetery details. Bill Eddleman discusses where to locate this information, how sources vary from place to place, and the pitfalls of each type of source.
Bill Eddleman discusses the basics of land grants, federal land sales, military bounty land, and numerous other ways to study records on first title.
Records involving land transfers after the original title holder often require a deeper level of understanding to be used effectively. Watch as Bill Eddleman provides an overview on locating available information in land records and other sources.
Watch as Bill Eddleman discusses the different types of courts and the records that can be of genealogical interest, including details on where to locate court records, where to find laws regulating these courts, and the basis for the legal systems.
Watch as Bill Eddleman discusses using probate records in genealogical research and learn the difference between testate and intestate estates; laws relating to inheritance; documents generated by the probate process and what they mean; and the role of courts and court records in probate.
Watch as Bill Eddleman discusses services available to find newspapers, what records are likely to be found in papers, and how to access records that appeared in these publications.
Watch as Bill Eddleman discusses using manuscript collections for family research including an overview of the types of documents you might find in manuscript collections and discusses how information contained in these archival treasures can help you find ancestors and research their lives.
Watch as Bill Eddleman discusses the structure and function of DNA; different types of DNA—Y-DNA, mitochondrial, and autosomal—and when they are useful for different questions. Eddleman also provides information about testing and companies and the basics on how to use the data once you have results.
Watch as Bill Eddleman explores how to write and share your family history.

–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice