Course #5: Getting Lost in Ledgers

Instructor: Diane L. Richard
Dates offered: Tuesdays, March 15, 22, 29, April 5, 2022
Time: 3:30-6:30 pm Pacific/6:30-9:30 pm Eastern
Cost: $300

Are you working in a burned county or have a gap in the available records, resulting in an inability to resolve a genealogical problem? (Who doesn’t?) Are you researching women, children, Free Persons of Color, and/or the enslaved? (Aren’t we all?) Do you wonder about the everyday minutiae, politics, hobbies, religion, and more of your ancestors? (Fun to know AND leverageable in your research plan!) This course will explore non-governmental business records (ledgers etc.) to solve some of those problems. Whether underrepresented or extensively documented in governmental, religious, and other records, almost all individuals ARE found in local business ledgers! Don’t assume your ancestors won’t be included.

Course Objectives

  • Familiarize participants with what genealogically-relevant information is found in ledgers, typically located in private/manuscript archival collections worldwide.
  • Educate students on how to effectively and efficiently explore ledgers
  • Instruct on how to identify, locate and access these records

Recommended Skill-based Pre-requisites

  • Familiarity with hand-written documents
  • Familiarity with finding aids, private and manuscript materials

Course Outline

Class 1

  • Introduction and discussion of pre-assignment
  • Lecture: “Introduction to the What and Why of Ledgers”
  • In-class breakout session
  • Lecture: “Ledger Types, Organization and More”
  • In-class activity 
  • Lecture: “Locating & Identifying Ledgers”
  • In-class activity 
  • Brainstorm/discuss those underrepresented in governmental records and found in ledgers
  • Homework:/Scavenger Hunt #1

Class 2

  • Review and discuss homework assignments/Scavenger Hunt #1
  • In-class breakout session
  • Lecture: “Distilled Liquor & Spirits Ledgers”
  • In-class activity
  • Lecture: “General Store & Mercantile Ledgers”
  • Lecture: “Academia Explores Ledgers”
  • Lecture: “Academic and Scholarly Resources: An Overview”
  • In-class activity
  • Homework/Scavenger Hunt #2

Class 3

  • Review and discuss homework assignments/Scavenger Hunt #2
  • Lecture: “Physician and Other Medically Related Ledgers”
  • in-class breakout session
  • Lecture: “Legal Ledgers”
  • In-class activity
  • Brainstorm/discuss how Free Persons of Color and enslaved might be identified in ledgers
  • Lecture: “Personal Care & Sartorial Splendor”
  • Homework/Scavenger Hunt #3

Class 4

  • Review and discuss homework assignments/Scavenger Hunt #3
  • in-class breakout session
  • Lecture: “Travel: Dining, Lodging and Toll Ledgers”
  • in-class activity
  • Lecture: “Many Others! So Many Ledgers, So Little Time”
  • in-class activity
  • Lecture: “Lastly–Documenting Death”
  • in-class activity
  • Wrap up