Monday, November 24, 2014

Spending the Day with Judy~What I Learned from the Legal Genealogist

   On Saturday, November 15, 2014, I was fortunate enough to be able to attend The North Carolina Genealogical Society's Workshop in Durham, NC.
 The topic for the workshop was The Law, Your Ancestors and You presented by none other than Judy G. Russell, also known as the Legal Genealogist. Anyone who has ever heard Judy speak will know what a fun day of learning this was for everyone who was there. 
  While waiting for the Workshop to begin, Judy came over to our table and began talking to us about her NC ancestors.ancestors. Wouldn't you know that a lady sitting next to me at the table had a connection to one of Judy's lines? 
Judy Russell
NCGS Workshop
15 Nov, 2104
©Cheri Hudson Passey

 Judy presented her topic in four separate presentations.

  • Session 1, From Blackstone to the Statutes At Large-How Knowing the Law Makes Us Better Genealogists taught us why we need to know the law. Our ancestors had to live and abide by the laws of the country, town and even religion that they were a part of. We need to find out what the laws were and what records may have been created due to those laws. Records were also created when they didn't abide by those laws as well!  Understanding the wording used in legal documents is crucial too. There are many on line resources that can help determine the answers to these questions.

  • Session 2, "Don't Forget The Ladies" A Genealogist's Guide to Women and the Law, dealt with understanding woman and the laws in their lives. Learning how the legal status of women changed over the years can help us know what records are available to help us in our research.  From Vital, Court, Newspapers and other records, Judy gave us wonderful tips on how how to find the sometimes elusive women in our family tree. 

    A break for lunch proved to be a wonderful time to chat with Judy and to check out the vendors. I was able to buy a couple of books from Heritage Books and meet Owner and Genealogist, Craig Scott.
 Can I just say that the catered lunch was amazing!

 After attending the annual meeting of the North Carolina Genealogical Society, where awards were given and the board voted on for next year, we were ready for the afternoon classes.

  •    Session 3, The Ties That Bond, was a fantastic discussion on Legal Bonds. What bonds are and why they are important in genealogical research was explained. As Judy taught us, a bond is a legal promise to either do or not do something.There is usually a monetary component to the bond with a person signing to pay a certain amount if the conditions of the bond are not met.There are many types of bonds to look for, including marriage, guardianship and others. What makes them such a good resource? The fact that someone would sign them and commit to pay if someone broke the bond tends to support a close family member or friend.Would you agree to pay hundreds of dollars if someone didn't live up to a legal document unless you were close to them? Our ancestors probably wouldn't either.

  In response to questions that Judy was asked during this presentation, the following blog post from The Legal Genealogist was published. Bonding the Bride and Groom

  • Session 4, and the last of the day, was Staying Out of Trouble-The Rights and Responsibilities of Today's Genealogists.  In this lecture, we learned about our rights to information, how copyright works and what is safe for us to use. We have the right to public information. Judy suggested making sure we know the laws regarding documents in our areas and taking a copy of that law with us when we visit Court Houses and other places. If there is a question, we can kindly show the copy of the law.We have the responsibility to understand what copyright means, what can and cannot be copyrighted and also what the result of copyright infringement can be. Illegal use of someone else's copyrighted material can result in being sued and as she warned, saying I did't know or I gave them credit, isn't a defense. There are safe things to use that are no longer under copyright or have never been copyrighted. There are many resources on line that can help to determine these issues. 

With Judy Russell
NCGS Workshop
15 Nov.,2014
© Cheri Hudson Passey

 What a fast day of learning and sharing! Not only was I able to spend the day with Judy Russell, I also renewed friendships made at other conferences and workshops as well as make new friends. All things that being part of a Genealogy Society can do for us. 
 This was my first experience with the North Carolina Genealogy Society and I was impressed! They have some great things lined up for next year so if you have never checked them out before, I would highly recommend you do!  

 Are we kin? If so please contact me. Together we can find our people!
Thanks for stopping by!


  1. Very interesting summaries, Cheri. I'm glad you went to this conference.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Wendy! It was so much fun! Love being able to get together to learn and socialize with other genealogists!

  2. Cheri,
    I was there also. It was a great day of learning.

    1. Aww, I wish we had met! Next time let's plan on doing just that! Thanks so much for taking the time to read my post! Glad you had a good time too!

  3. Hi Cheri, i live in Youngsville, so we must be Carolina neighbors. I do not belong to the NC Genealogical Society, but your post encourages me to do so! Thanks for sharing. Helen

    1. Hi neighbor! I am in Myrtle Beach! The NCGS is a great organization. I have not been a member long but so far I have been able to see Judy Russell speak and watch a webinar from Mark Lowe and Craig Scott. Can't beat that! I would recommend you joining! Thanks so much for reading my post and leaving a comment!

  4. Cheri,

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

    Have a great weekend!

    1. Thanks so much, Jana! It's always an honor to be included!