Sunday, October 2, 2022

Congress.Gov, The Forgotten Resource


Historical Context of Family History Month
As researchers we often reference contemporary newspapers to understand our ancestors' social history. We see phrases like "October, Family History Month," and we ignore the implications. Who declared it? What was the Need? When did it happen? Where (to include which citizensis the impact of this law? How is it to be impact my family in the future? 

Most have never visited the congress.gov website, but its contents impacted our ancestors choices and struggles and successes.  Our ancestors migrated, settled and resettled as they fought for and voted for representatives to create laws that reflected their values and could determine their family's fate. So when October was dedicated to Family History Month we turned to the 107th Congress, congress.gov to understand how Family History Month became an October reality.

Purpose for this blogpost?
Our goal here is twofold:
  1. Encourage historical researchers, to include family historians, to peruse the congress.gov website to put laws and our ancestors into perspective. 
  2. To celebrate October as Family History Month 
Why use Congress.gov website?

The a3genealogy love for early territorial records led us to the congress.gov website as we researched the 1800, 6th Congress act for granting land to the inhabitants and settlers at Vincennes and the Illinois country, in the Territory North-West of the Ohio, and for conforming them in their possessions.''  Our brickwall was destroyed by understanding the law, beginning with 1800. Our client was looking for a full land trace a particular ancestor that led us directly to Vincennes. The ancestor died in 1837.

Of course, this was the same 6th Congress that established the system of Bankruptcy throughout the United States. Understanding this bill and its implementation and impact to our early Broome County, NY timber/lumber Dutch family, helped explained the descendants move to Portland, OR area.  
“trouble with lumber,” and greed from the Broome County Bank and their lawyers. “They sued me and father Vosbury, and Levi , and all my in dorsers [endorsers], and made costs upon costs till they broke me all up.”
But our first hurdle was to understand the impact of the law on these early Dutch settlers.

Congress.gov allows the family researcher to peruse all of the Bills, Acts & Laws from 1799 -present day. So when requested to provide historical research  on Family History Month celebrated in October, again we turned to congess.gov: S.Res.160 - A resolution designating the month of October 2001, as "Family History Month".  This historical research for the publication of an academic article.

October Family History Month since 2001

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
                           September 12, 2001
    Mr. Hatch (for himself, Mr. Reid, Mr. Inhofe, Mr. Thurmond, Mr. 
 Bennett, Mr. Dodd, Mr. Stevens, Mr. Craig, Mr. Grassley, Mr. Cleland, 
Mr. Hutchinson, Mr. Inouye, Mr. DeWine, Mr. Campbell, Mrs. Clinton, Mr. 
Nelson of Nebraska, Mr. Leahy, Mr. Conrad, Mr. Frist, Mr. Rockefeller, 
 Mr. Jeffords, Mr. Baucus, Mr. Sessions, Mr. Helms, Mr. Bingaman, Mr. 
   Bunning, Mr. Miller, Mr. Murkowski, Mr. Nickles, Mr. Cochran, Mr. 
 Domenici, Mr. Allen, Mr. Smith of Oregon, Mr. Wyden, Mrs. Feinstein, 
Mr. Daschle, Mr. Fitzgerald, Ms. Snowe, Ms. Collins, Mr. Wellstone, Mr. 
   Kerry, Mr. Dorgan, Ms. Cantwell, Ms. Stabenow, Mr. Kennedy, Mrs. 
   Lincoln, Mr. Specter, Mr. Biden, Mr. Brownback, Mr. Roberts, Mr. 
  Allard, Mr. Bayh, Mr. Byrd, Mr. Nelson of Florida, Mr. Schumer, Mr. 
Hollings, Mr. Santorum, Mrs. Hutchison, Mr. Corzine, Mr. Thompson, Mr. 
 Lugar, Mr. Voinovich, Mr. McConnell, Mr. Lott, Mr. Akaka, Mrs. Boxer, 
Mr. Durbin, Mr. Breaux, Mrs. Dayton, Mr. Enzi, Mr. Thomas, Mr. Smith of 
 New Hampshire, Mr. Burns, Mr. Crapo, Mr. Hagel, Mr. Kohl, Mr. Levin, 
 Ms. Mikulski, Mr. Shelby, Mr. Sarbanes, Mrs. Murray, Mr. Graham, Mr. 
  Johnson, Mr. Feingold, and Mr. Torricelli) submitted the following 
    resolution; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary
In the 107th Congress, 2001, a Senate committee detailed Family History Month in a resolution. Yes, I'm putting in here in its entirety.
 RESOLUTION
 Designating the month of October 2001, as ``Family History Month''.
Whereas it is the family, striving for a future of opportunity and hope, that 
        reflects our Nation's belief in community, stability, and love;
Whereas the family remains an institution of promise, reliance, and 
        encouragement;
Whereas we look to the family as an unwavering symbol of constancy that will 
        help us discover a future of prosperity, promise, and potential;
Whereas within our Nation's libraries and archives lie the treasured records 
        that detail the history of our Nation, our States, our communities, and 
        our citizens;
Whereas individuals from across our Nation and across the world have embarked on 
        a genealogical journey by discovering who their ancestors were and how 
        various forces shaped their past;
Whereas an ever-growing number in our Nation and in other nations are 
        collecting, preserving, and sharing genealogies, personal documents, and 
        memorabilia that detail the life and times of families around the world;
Whereas 54,000,000 individuals belong to a family where someone in the family 
        has used the Internet to research their family history;
Whereas individuals from across our Nation and across the world continue to 
        research their family heritage and its impact upon the history of our 
        Nation and the world;
Whereas approximately 60 percent of Americans have expressed an interest in 
        tracing their family history;
Whereas the study of family history gives individuals a sense of their heritage 
        and a sense of responsibility in carrying out a legacy that their 
        ancestors began;
Whereas as individuals learn about their ancestors who worked so hard and 
        sacrificed so much, their commitment to honor their ancestors' memory by 
        doing good is increased;
Whereas interest in our personal family history transcends all cultural and 
        religious affiliations;
Whereas to encourage family history research, education, and the sharing of 
        knowledge is to renew the commitment to the concept of home and family; 
        and
Whereas the involvement of National, State, and local officials in promoting 
        genealogy and in facilitating access to family history records in 
        archives and libraries are important factors in the successful 
        perception of nationwide camaraderie, support, and participation: Now, 
        therefore, be it
    Resolved, That the Senate--
            (1) designates the month of October 2001, as ``Family 
        History Month''; and
            (2) requests that the President issue a proclamation 
        calling upon the people of the United States to observe the 
        month with appropriate ceremonies and activities.
There are other government records for researchers to analyze. At a3Genealogy, we often turn to the Legislation & Records of the US Senate

What a wonder treasure trove these records are when working on our ancestors and understanding the national (and regional) influences of their choices. Plus, for us, in more cases than one, this understanding has led us to bringing down brickwalls. 

Be Historically Correct

Kathleen Brandt
a3genealogy.com
Accurate Accessible Answers
a3genealogy@gmail.com  








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