Jeffrey Garth Edmunds
Beginning April 2, 2012, the National Archives will provide access to the images of the 1940 U.S. Federal census for the very first time. Unlike previous census years, the images of the 1940 U.S. Federal Census will be made available as free digital images at http://1940census.archives.gov. Genealogists have waited for this day for years and are eager to get a first look.
When I began began doing genealogical research many years ago, like all beginners I focused on marriage records, birth and death records--when they were available, and wills. Then came deeds and other land records, and through using them I discovered the world of "courts of chancery" and "chancery records."
Not all Virginia courts judged cases the same way, you see. Some courts decided cases based on written laws that either specifically allowed or specifically prohibited various actions in certain circumstances. There was in these courts no latitude for judicial interpretation; there were no "grey areas."
Other courts, however, dealt with issues of equity or fairness in a much more flexible way--Chancery Courts. These courts decided cases which codified law could not readily accomodate, and these cases were usually land disputes, divisions of estates, divorce petitions, and business partnership disputes.
Chancery Court files are filled with subpoenas, depositions of witnesses, affidavits and other items of enormous interest to genealogists!
The Library of Virginia in Richmond has been diligently digitizing and indexing old chancery records, covering cases from the early eighteenth century through World War I. The database now includes hundreds of thousands of items. Several jurisdictions of interest to us are already completed! You may now find and view online the scanned chancery records for Westmoreland County, 1753-1913; Caroline County, 1787-1849; and Culpeper County, 1829-1913. Others will be made available in due course.
The Law Library has a limited number of copies of the excellent booklet, "Understanding Your Domestic Relations Rights in Virginia 2010-2011" to give away to the general public.
Prepared specially for non-lawyers by the Metropolitan Richmond Women's Bar Association, the booklet provides clear and up-to-date answers to many of the most commonly asked questions about adoption, paternity, family violence, divorce, spousal and child support, custody and visitation, property settlements, and etc.
Get your copy by contacting the Law Librarian at 540-372-1144, ext. 238.
James Wallace McGinly visited the Central Rappahannock region several times. Nothing unusual about that -- except that McGinly visited in 1862, 1863 and 1864; he was wearing a blue uniform at the time; and he recorded the details of his visits in a diary.
CRRL has been given a photocopy of that diary, thanks to Edward G. Nix of Illinois. It will be cataloged, and placed in CRRL’s Virginiana Collection.
Easy access to local codes and ordinances is just the sort of thing that we've come to expect from the Internet. The City of Fredericksburg, Stafford County, Spotsylvania County and Westmoreland County -- all now have their codes available on line.
But for those times when on-line won't do, there are printed copies of all these codes available in the Law Library, where CRRL staff members can also assist you in using them.
Seems as though every time there is an incident like the recent tragedy at Fort Hood, Clint Van Zandt turns up on TV, offering insight into what has happened and how to understand it. Van Zandt is well known for having been, for many years an FBI major crimes analyst, “profiler” and hostage negotiator. You may not know that he is today the president of a local business, Van Zandt Associates – an international risk and threat management consulting firm.
From the Central Rappahanock Regional Library
Divided Highways: Building the Interstate Highways, Transforming American Life by Tom Lewis.
The monumental story of the largest engineered structure ever built -- the American interstate highway system -- is told in dramatic text and pictures. This is the companion volume to the PBS documentary series of the same name.
Getting There: The Epic Struggle Between Road and Rail in the American Century by Stephen P. Goddard.
A well-done bit of social history, with its focus on the triumph of the road builders.
The Central Rappahannock region produced many of the men who led the fight for independence and fashioned the new American nation. Some are remembered, and afforded their due. Some, like John Francis Mercer, are not remembered -- but should be….
A recent foray into CRRL’s mysterious vaults and back rooms failed to turn up Masonic Secrets or the Lost Ark – but it did turn up something interesting nonetheless: fifteen big, hard-bound volumes of the Lost Newspapers of Spotsylvania!
From the Central Rappahannock Regional Library
The Day is Ours! An Inside View of the Battles of Trenton and Princeton, November 1776 - January 1777 by William M. Dwyer.
A wonderful account based on the actual words and writings of the men who lived through those famed battles.
Duty, Honor, or Country: General George Weedon and the American Revolution by Harry M. Ward.
This is the only full-length biography of the general. Written by a well-regarded military historian, it is the single most important source for the modern researcher.