Please welcome guest blogger Nancy A. Peters, CGSM

The story began with a letter from a U.S. Senator to his great-grandmother Charlotte Jensen. The search for meaning and historical context took David Rencher on a genealogical treasure hunt through the records of the U.S. Congress. Charlotte and her husband, Peter Jensen, settled in Northern Arizona in the 1880s and struggled to cultivate the land and eke out a living for their family. What David found was a heart-breaking tale of how their tiny community was abruptly removed from their land and the reasons behind the action. David uncovered details of his family’s life found nowhere else.

In his usual clear, authoritative, and entertaining lecture style, David provided tips on how to access the records of the U.S. Congress and strategies for finding people, including those with common surnames. He showed examples of information you might find such as details of birth, marriage, and death, occupations, and names of heirs. In his Jensen family case study he explained how ten bills for relief spanning more than a decade led him to other sources within the National Archives.

If you think that your ancestors wouldn’t be included in these records because they lived ordinary, mundane lives, listening to David will convince you otherwise. Genealogists are always looking for new sources of information about their ancestors. Senate and Congressional records can satisfy that craving with a wealth of genealogically rich material.

This session has been taped. During the conference you can buy it from the JAMB-INC booth in the main conference hall. After the conference, it will be available online at This is session F341 under the heading 2013 NGS Conference/Las Vegas, NV.

Nancy A. Peters, CGSM, is a full-time genealogist specializing in South Carolina and English research. She also volunteers as a collection care assistant at the South Carolina Department of Archives and History in Columbia.