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09 May 2011

Civil War Research: It's More than Compiled Service and Pension Records

Susan Goss Johnston
Saturday, June 25, 2011
1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m

California Genealogical Society Library
2201 Broadway, Suite LL2
Oakland, California 94612

It you haven't heard Susan Goss Johnston speak about military records, you are in for a treat! In honor of the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, Johnston is presenting two talks: Recreating the Life of the Civil War Soldier and It Becomes My Painful Duty: Uncovering the Stories behind Letters of Condolence.

Recreating the Life of the Civil War Soldier
Pension records are wonderful presents waiting to be unwrapped and studied. They are rich in genealogical information, but they’re not the only records worth exploring. In fact, these records are only a fraction of the many records that were created during the Civil War. Case studies will be used to find and examine records – and record substitutes – created in the time between a soldier’s draft registration and his burial. What records exist? Where can they be found? What will they tell us?

It Becomes My Painful Duty”: Uncovering the Stories behind Letters of Condolence
We genealogists tend to read documents for the answers they provide, but these letters of condolence sent from the Civil War battlefields still evoke strong emotions one hundred fifty years after they were written. They may provide answers, but they also provoke strong questions. Who was the soldier and his heart-broken widow or grieving father? What were the circumstances behind his death? What does the letter say about the writer? The search for these answers will take the researcher into seldom-used records, and the stories uncovered bring history to life.

Register online

Susan Goss Johnston was a member of Yale University’s first undergraduate class of women, earning a B.A. in physics. After graduation, she began working in medical research while studying voice at Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. The natural outgrowth of this experience, mixed with two children, led to genealogy – research that didn't require grant writing! She has been involved in teaching and researching for thirty years. Sue currently teaches basic and advanced genealogy courses in the Community Education division of Las Positas College in Livermore, California, and is a member of the Livermore-Amador Genealogical Society and co-presenter at the group’s Tri-Valley TMG [The Master Genealogist] user group. She is a graduate of the National Institute on Genealogical Research, "Advanced Methodology and Evidence Analysis" at the Samford University's Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research, and the National Archives' course, "Going to the Source." On her first day of research at the National Archives, Sue found three Civil War pensions, and she has loved military records, especially those of the Civil War era, ever since.

Copyright © 2011 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library.