AJC file photo

National Archives at Atlanta symposium will focus on court records

The National Archives at Atlanta will host an all-day symposium on Sept. 15 focused on its federal district and circuit court records, which span two centuries.

“Law and Order in the Archives: Bootleggers, Counterfeiters, Privateers, and Everything in Between” runs from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. It’s free, but pre-registration is required before September 10. Those interested can email atlanta.archives@nara.gov or call Joel Walker at 770-968-2530.

Speakers include Dan Pierce, author of books on moonshining and on NASCAR, and Faye Kert, who will speak on the War of 1812 and privateering, as well as other pirating activities. Others speaking are Michael T. Bertrand, author of “Race, Rock and Elvis,” and Dr. David Gilbert, author of a book on a German naval officer who faced American justice after World War I. Archivist Maureen Hill will give “An Introduction to Federal District and Circuit Court Records.”

This should be an interesting symposium. My North Carolina ancestors were moonshiners, so I know I could benefit from hearing some of these talks. More information can be found on the speakers and topics at archives.gov/atlanta.

The National Archives system also has federal records on bankruptcy, court cases between people in different states, federal land condemnation to create military bases like Fort Benning, as well as the Tennessee Valley Authority (or Lake Lanier and similar lakes). So put the National Archives at Atlanta on you research list, as information there covers eight southern states.

Check your family papers before you begin research

I recently helped someone who was adopted search for information. After a nine-month dialogue, the item he needed on his birth mother was actually in his own possession, a court document. He had never opened the envelope because he thought it contained a duplicate of some other record. So when you start your research, and especially when you ask others to help you, don’t make a snap judgment that something is irrelevant, or already has been reviewed. Check your family photographs, scrapbooks, baby books, family Bible, letters and other keepsakes to see what you have. You never know what might be important in your search. Leave no stone unturned at home.

Georgia adoption records not sealed until 1941

Adoption records in different states were sealed at different times, and in Georgia not until 1941. Adoptions before then could be found at the county courthouse. After 1941, the records are held by the state.

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Contact Kenneth H. Thomas Jr., P. O.Box 901, Decatur, GA 30031 or gagensociety.org.