Monday, November 1, 2010

Bernie Gracy and Location Based Genealogy

A few months ago, I became interested in geography and geographic information science (GIS) so I enrolled in a GIS class at a local community college. Later I wanted to learn more about how geography and GIS could be used with genealogy so I typed in the keywords "geography and genealogy" in YouTube. Through this search, I discovered the work of Mr. Bernie Gracy who specializes in located-based genealogy.

Location is a huge part of a genealogists' quest; afterall we spend numerous hours trying to locate an ancestor's whereabouts and movements. Sometimes if we examine an ancestor's surroundings and location, we may discover numerous bits of new information. For example, I took Mr. Gracy's advice about focusing on location from his interview with Lisa Louise Cooke (see below) and scanned through an 1870 census in the Matoca townshop of Chesterfield County, VA focusing on the occupations of residents of that county. This census was used only because that was my research focus at the time I discovered the videos by Bernie Gracy. I was researching Charles Lundy, the alleged second husband of my slave ancestor Ellen Moore of Greensville County, VA when I discovered the videos below. During my scanning, I noticed a large number of people in Charles Lundy's community with the occupation labeled "works in cotton factory." Charles' occupations, however, was listed as Farm Laborer on this census. Further research validated my assumption that there a cotton factory in the community where Charles Lundy was living in 1870. I also learned through my research that there were several cotton factories in Chesterfield County, VA during this time.

I was thrilled to learn recently that Mr. Gracy will be presenting three workshops at the 2010 Atlanta Family History Expos. I look forward to attending these workshops as well as meeting him. The three workshops are:

  • An Introduction to

  • Breaking Down Brick Walls with Location Based Genealogy

  • Technology and Techniques for Conducting Location
    Based Field Research

Below are several videos of Mr. Bernie Gracy in which he explains location based genealogy.

The First Law of Geography

Interview of Bernie Gracy by Lisa Louise Cooke, Part 1

Interview of Bernie Gracy by Lisa Louise Cooke, Part 2


Anonymous said...

Professor Dru,

This is fascinating!
Mr. Bernie Gracy is amazing and a wonderful presenter. That's just based on the videos here.

He, and by extension you, have opened my eyes to new possibilities in family research!

"Guided by the Ancestors"

Professor Dru said...

Peace to you too, George, and Happy Location-Based Hunting.

Marian Pierre-Louis said...

This is so fascinating! Very in line with the way I have been thinking lately. I want to learn more about what he says. I watched the first video. So hard to watch because I kept thinking he was going to crash his car! LOL! Who ever heard of making a video while driving!

Great stuff. Thanks for posting!

Greta Koehl said...

I'm hooked - this reflects some of my thoughts from my Greenville trip, when I visited the probable site of my ancestor's farm and the churchyard where so many members of that family and related families are buried. Mr. Gracy is now on my "must see" list - thanks, Professor Dru!

Jennifer said...

Very cool! I am hopefully going to be at the Family History Expo in Atlanta also. I definitely want to be in his classes!

Kathleen Brandt, Professional Genealogist said...

I know I need to study this subject. I've taken seminars at conferences in the past, only to glaze over or dwell on lunch/dinner options. I find the topic daunting, but I have bookmarked the video's and I'm excited about this topic. Thanks for encouraging me to give this another try!

Angela Y. Walton-Raji said...

I am inspired to go back and re-approach some of my projects and incorporate his methods as well! He is a good presenter!