Live from the Salt Lake Christmas Tour! with 18 Pounds of Southern Genealogy to Share.

They say that the teacher learns more than the student.  And this always seems to be the case when the Salt Lake Christmas Tour convenes at the Family History Library the first full week of December.  We stay at the Salt Lake Plaza Hotel just south of the Library.  Meet for breakfast together.  Draw for prizes–many of them made for the group by persons who come to the Tour every year.

This is our 25th year.  With a few exceptions, we still have the same professional research consultants and the same husband-wife team to oversee and prepare breakfast, our banquet, and our closing Ice Cream Social.

And Leland and Patty Meitzler still host their Genealogy Book Store.  Illya D’addezio is still our computer retrieval and programming expert.  Bill Balter still takes us for picture-taking tours of the Christmas lights on Temple Square and prepares a photo-CD of memories. 

And Donna Potter Phillips still corrals and guides our actions (and at times our behaviour) smoothly each day.  She especially watches over the newbies to ensure that they learn the ropes of genealogy in Salt Lake City without trauma. 

In preparation for the Tour, I reviewed several shelves of Virginia genealogy, including the oversize book area.  And found one of the most beautiful pieces of genealogical research I have encountered–ever!

B. Bernetiae Reed’s The Slave Families of Thomas Jefferson:  A Pictorial Study Book with an Interpretation of his Farm Book in Genealogy Charts.  2007.  2 vols.  Sylvest-Sarah, Inc.  PO Box 5825, Greensboro NC 27407-1285.

Bound in leather, printed in full color with color-coded genealogy charts, thoroughly indexed and documented, these two volumes are an eighteen- pound model:  not only for the genealogy compiled,  but for the hope and promise of what we all could accomplish.

Wall Charts Become a Full-Blown Study

MS Reed began with a family tree chart in mind.  Chart by chart, she summarized her findings on wall charts hung around her home:  genealogy descents from the slaves Jefferson inherited, married, bought, and traded.  And genealogy descents of the slaves as they moved from plantation to plantation.  And as they were emancipated and migrated west.  Each slave and the family to which that person belonged are color-coded so you can track the lineages of each and every one.

Reed’s indexes include full names, occupations, relationships, and other identifying factors that enable you to differentiate between persons of the same name.  For this reason, if for no other, this book is a genealogical model. 

Surname indexes, which many authors are still creating , are time-consuming and often worthless–it takes more time to check page after page seeking one surname than it does to read the whole book.  Reed does not put us through that torture.

And her choice of illustrations–period maps, pictures and photographs of slavery and Virginia–give you a cultural base for understanding Jefferson’s original Farm Book and the census schedules upon which the families are based.

Carefully selected documents, including wills with full transcripts, correspondence, and sales receipts open your eyes and mind to the possible.

What if…you were to use the same sources, could you achieve similar results?  Your favorite Virginia genealogist, Arlene Eakle

PS  Watch for an addition to my list of Free People of Color bibliography.  Much work is going on in this area.  And remember that many Native American ancestors are “hidden” within this people category.

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