Early Genealogists’ Records Are Important

December 11th, 1994


The works of earlier genealogists are becoming more and more important resources themselves. Many of these people spent lifetimes researching without today’s benefits of photocopying, microfilmed records, indexes, published records, or numerous quarterlies. Some of the widespread knowledge they shared can be seen in the genealogy column published in the “Atlanta Constitution” by the Daughters of the American Revolution from 1900-1902. Most of this column was later published in a two-volume set, with an index. These books are worth searching for anyone with early Georgia roots and anyone with prominent ancestors, for that is what early genealogists concentrated on.

Dr. Thomas Hart Raines (1878-1918) was one of these. He submitted many queries for the column, was on its editorial board, and also contributed to the “Virginia Historical Quarterly” and willed his papers to the Virginia Historical Society. Interest has increased lately in his widespread interests and where, if anywhere, one might find more of his correspondence. He intended to write several family histories, but died while in military service. Another early pioneer was Annie Belle Jones of Decatur, a teacher, at whose death many of her writings came to the DeKalb Historical Society, Decatur, Georgia. Biographical sketches of Ms. Jones and others can be found in one of the volumes of “The Handbook of American Genealogy” edited by F. A. Virkus in 1932-1934. Virkus stated in volume 2 that volume 1 was to “include the name of every person reported to be engaged in genealogical work beyond his or her own lineages”. It was a national record and should be checked. The books are actually a who’s who of American genealogists.

Anyone who might have the genealogical papers or letters of someone who did extensive genealogical work should attempt to donate them to a library or archives where they can be preserved and used in the future. The Georgia Archives is the repository of several sets of papers by county historians, such as Mrs. H. M. Dixon of Stewart County, and T. B. Rice of Greene County. The University of Georgia has the papers of J. A. LeConte whose interests went from the coast to Wilkes County. Other genealogists who died more recently hopefully arranged for their papers to be placed in a proper library.


Anyone interested in forming a society for those researching Spanish-speaking America, should contact Emma Zell, 4022-C Dunwoody Park Dr., Dunwoody, Ga. 30338 (481-0219). She is interested in forming a group of people who have done work in Hispanic records, either in person, via the Mormons, or however. She wants to share research sources, books, case studies, etc.


The Saint-Dominque Special Interest Group is devoted to anyone researching families from the French West Indies, including Haiti (Saint-Domingue before 1804), and other French colonies. They publish queries in an extensive newsletter, share the location of sources, and have meetings. Contact Augusta Elmwood, 1514 Saint Roch Ave., New Orleans, La. 70117-8347 for details.
Update: Ms. Elmwood is still at this address and still working on this topic, December 13, 2010.