SpringBoard, an official blogger for the 2015 NGS Family History Conference, is pleased to offer a review of this skillbuilding lecture, presented Saturday, 16 May 2015:

S451: Jeanne Larzalere Bloom, CG, “The Art of Negative-Space Research: Women,” reviewed by Debbie Mieszala, CG.

Jeanne Larzalere Bloom, CG, is equal parts determination and enthusiasm as she guides her audience through a case study entitled “Three Graves under a Few Small Trees” within her BCG Skillbuilding presentation, “The Art of Negative-Space Research: Women.” Bloom’s interest in a trio of eighteenth-century burials was not dampened by the fact that they now lie under a parking lot. Inscriptions and remarks about the gravestones were documented over a century ago.

BCG President Jeanne Larzalere Bloom, CG

With the humor required to fortify a genealogist through the most complex of research problems, Bloom explains the methodology she used to determine how the man and two women lying under the tarmac were connected. No record for either woman names her parents. Spelling and name variations added complexity to the research. Facing an unfortunately-common dearth of female-specific records, Bloom began by identifying and researching the men in the women’s lives—using the negative space around the women to form images of their identities. Others sharing their surnames were researched at length, and a community of family and associates provided valuable evidence.

As the “spaghetti family” strands are unwound, primarily through extensive work in probate and wills, Bloom paints a vivid picture of a family emerging from hiding. “It really does take getting down to the documents, looking at them and reading them,” she declares. Extensive document analysis and correlation were crucial to the problem’s solution. Bloom’s research strategy allowed her to identify parents for the two women, put a name to a previously unidentified child, and connect the trio of family members forgotten under a parking lot.

Bloom advises that “Just because researching women can be challenging, it shouldn’t be ignored.” Her problem and solution format inspire genealogists to look more closely at the elusive women who represent one half of our ancestry.

“The Art of Negative-Space Research: Women,” session S451, was recorded by Jamb Tapes, Inc.

CG, Certified Genealogist, CGL, and Certified Genealogical Lecturer are service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists, used under license by Board-certified genealogists after periodic competency evaluation, and the board name is registered in the US Patent & Trademark Office.