Meet Janice S. Blackhurst, AG®, U.S. Gulf-South Specialist

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This month ICAPGen℠ spotlights Janice S. Blackhurst, AG®, who received her accreditation in the Gulf-South States Region. Her research has taken her far beyond the borders of the Gulf-South States—which include Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana,  Texas—into just about every state in the United States, and many different countries, as well.

She has had projects which required translating records from Spanish, French, Italian, German, Hungarian, Finnish, and Swedish, and her second language skills in Spanish has her thinking she might pursue further accreditation in the Spain or Mexico regions some day.

Pursuing Accreditation

After working in human resources for more than 12 years, the division she worked for closed their site, and Janice decided to turn her longtime passion for genealogy into a new career. She pursued accreditation and started her own business, which is called Genea in a Bottle.

For others who would like to pursue accreditation, Janice advises them to pick up as many projects as they can which touch on all of the states in their region, so they can become familiar with the records, resources, websites, databases, microfilms, publications, and repositories available for each of those states. She suggests that message boards where people post “brick wall” challenges can be a good way to find potential projects. This is good preparation for the three-hour research problem in Level 3 of the exam process.

Gulf-South Research Challenges

Janice says the Gulf-South Region research challenges include record losses due to fires and destruction, especially during the Civil War.  These states also do not have as many large churches that consistently maintained and recorded vital records, unlike states such as Pennsylvania, New York, or Delaware, so indirect sources must often be utilized to identify names, dates, and vital events.

The complicated history of a region under the various jurisdictions of Spain, France, and England, as well as the difficulty of finding records for African Americans prior to 1865 make for some interesting research challenges in the Gulf-South, but Janice says she is drawn to the region for that exact reason.

Recent Projects

Recently, Janice completed a project for a client who needed to prove his descendancy and relation to a 4th great uncle, as well as tracing the lines to living descendants, so he could receive approval for burial in a certain Texas cemetery burial plot. She is proud of several projects that aided in identifying African American ancestry and slave owners.  Another recent lengthy project  involved tracing one family’s Hispanic heritage with long roots in Colorado, New Mexico, and Mexico on one side, and Italian ancestors who lived in Argentina on another side, as well as a line that she traced from Minnesota back to Sweden.  Now there’s a multi-cultural family!  In one of her favorite Gulf-South projects, she found the Bremen, Germany origins of an immigrant who settled in New Orleans, Louisiana.

A Publication Work in Progress

Janice has an ongoing project to transcribe court minutes for Wake County, North Carolina, for a period where the film of court minutes is not owned by the Family History Library. She hopes to publish this in the next few years.

Janice Blackhurst’s website can be found at www.geneainabottle.com

 

 

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