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Monday, April 6, 2009

Weekend Report

I had a great time in Virginia on Friday and Saturday. My sister and I went down on Thursday evening so we would be there first thing in the morning without having to start at 4 a.m. On Friday morning I dropped her off at the Writer's Conference and went to the courthouse in Harrisonburg. I was proud of myself that I managed to get in and out of the center of town without getting lost---although I did collect a parking ticket for parking in the public library lot more than two hours.
I found most of the things I was looking for in the courthouse, in spite of their messed up system. They could use a few lessons in organization! For example, I knew some of the deeds I was looking for were in Book 36. My heart sank when I saw the shelf below Book 35 was empty. But then I found Book 36 about four shelves above 35. The number printed on the spine was 1, but it had been crossed out and 36 was penciled beside it.
I never did find the tax records for 1790-1804. That evening our host told me those records are in three volumes marked simply Book 1, 2, and 3. How was I supposed to know they contained tax records? Fortunately, he haunts the courthouse regularly and offered to do a search for me. It pays to have friends in other states!
I left the courthouse in the middle of the afternoon and got to the Writer's Conference in time to take in one afternoon and the evening session. The supper break between sessions was the most interesting to me this year. It is good to be able to connect with other writers whom I usually see only at Writer's Conference and "talk shop."
About 40 people were in my workshop on Saturday morning. The hour and a half allotted to me melted quickly as I tried to give examples of various sources of research---deeds, wills, obituaries, census, marriage licenses, etc. I could easily have used another 20 minutes.
As soon as I could get away, I went up the block to EMU (Eastern Mennonite University) where there was a meeting of Librarians and Archivists. I missed their workshop, but joined them for lunch. My sister gave me a recap of the workshop on the way home so I felt like I had not totally missed out on it.
I got home about 5:30 Saturday evening. After two good nights of sleep and a day to set my house in order, I feel like I am about caught up again. And I'm happy to give an eyewitness report that spring is on the way. The grass in Harrisonburg is thick and green, cherry trees and forsythia are in full bloom. In another week or ten days, we'll have the same here.

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