Archives Lady with WW

Melissa LeMaster Barker deals with objective research in this session about ancestors who were on the wrong side of the law. She also wrote “The Archive Lady: Researching My Outlaw Ancestors” published at Abundant Genealogy. She is a Certified Archives Manager currently working as the Houston County, Tennessee Archivist. She is also a Professional Genealogist and lectures, teaches and writes about researching in archives and records preservation. You’ll find her work here and on the web at:

Melissa recommends the following resources for archival materials:




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DearMYRTLE and Cousin Russ recognize the United Nations’ International Decade for People of African Descent 2015-2024. We reach out to _all_ regardless of race, color, creed, sexual orientation or national origin with support for researching family and documenting cultural inheritance.


19:01:08 From Melissa LeMaster Barker : Hello Everyone!
19:01:11 From Cousin Russ : When posting in the “Zoom Webinar Chat” , change the “TO” portion to read “ALL PANELISTS AND ATTENDEES.” By default it reads “all panelists.”
19:01:24 From Yvonne Demoskoff : Hi!
19:01:42 From Maurene Fehling : Hello
19:02:02 From Gary Gauthier : Hello from Calgary!!!
19:02:02 From Betty-Lu Burton : Hi everyone. Happy to hear Melissa tonight
19:02:35 From Linda Braddock to All panelists : Hey, Melissa! Gail from TNGS! [NOTE: Tennessee Genealogical Society.]
19:02:56 From Melissa LeMaster Barker : Hello Gail!
19:08:44 From Betty-Lu Burton : I found out by accident that not only was my Great- grandfather was in prison, but also that he lost his leg in the Civil War.
19:09:29 From Gary Gauthier : Was just working on a story like that.
19:11:54 From Sarah Bell : Or if not the outlaw themselves, they may have appeared as a witness in a criminal case!
19:12:08 From Cassandra Davis to All panelists : Have a hard time locating bootlegger family in Birmingham, AL. Not NARA Atlanta (Eliot Nest was Treasury?), AL Archive, not in Birmingham Library Archive.
19:12:48 From Cassandra Davis to All panelists : Bootleggers were local, state, federal?
19:13:56 From Cassandra Davis to All panelists : City jail?
19:15:14 From Sarah Bell : Are there often indexes for these court records? Or would you have to trawl through lots of documents, looking for names and dates?
19:15:35 From Betty-Lu Burton : I wonder if my grandfather Baker might be in some court records. I was told that since he was a retired locksmith that several times the police would ask for his alibi after certain crimes were committed
19:16:11 From Cassandra Davis to All panelists : He had drive up delivery at home. Arrested, but sheriff or head police was also Mason, so he never stayed in jail long. Great story, but no paper. Thanks, I have a research path.
19:17:18 From Sarah Bell : Newspapers may publish court sittings too
19:19:43 From Gary Gauthier : Are the civil and criminal case records separate in all situations, or are they together in smaller communities?
19:21:02 From Betty-Lu Burton : I have that problem with one of my ancestors. He was apparently a real estate agent and there are tons of land deeds with his name on them. The time period 1800-1810
19:22:05 From Cassandra Davis to All panelists : Great for union and civil rights arrests.
19:26:51 From Joyce Westphal to All panelists : In our county, the moonshiners were often quickly released as the sheriff himself was one of their best customers and was often paid a bribe in moonshine.
19:27:09 From Cassandra Davis to All panelists : How do contact police for past records vs I need help now? Not eager to annoy my police department, or FBI. Thanks.
19:28:02 From Cousin Russ : Former Alcatraz Inmates List
19:28:42 From Betty-Lu Burton : How I had found out my great grandfather had been in prison was the 1890 veteran’s schedule
19:28:49 From Sarah Bell : There are gaol books for NSW here in Australia, some even have pictures of the inmates!
19:28:56 From Cousin Russ : Federal Bureau of Prisons
19:29:58 From Cousin Russ :
19:30:00 From Betty-Lu Burton : What kind of problems would someone have with privacy laws when looking for prison records?
19:31:04 From Gary Gauthier : Try this for Ontario, Canada
19:31:30 From Sarah Bell : Police gazettes are good too, they have physical descriptions of people etc
19:31:37 From Cousin Russ : Idaho Inmates – Miners
19:32:44 From Sarah Bell : @Betty-Lu, I know inmate records are confidential for many years here in Aus
19:34:07 From Sarah Bell : It’s always interesting seeing convict records – people were transported to Australia for things as simple as stealing a loaf of bread or a handkerchief!
19:35:40 From Deb Andrew : Not all people who are listed with a prison or jail address, they maybe an employee.
19:39:52 From Yvonne Demoskoff : that fellow went to jail for stealing a barber’s razors
19:41:02 From Cousin Russ : Sacramento California Police Mug Books
19:43:00 From Beverly Anderson to All panelists : My 3rd GGrandfather was imprisoned in Sweden and than sent to the US. He stole a horse in Minnesota and returned to Sweden. HIs Swedish prison records are at: Two of his arrest/prison records have pictures.
19:46:21 From Gary Gauthier : In Canada, we have the strangest of record set held in the National Archives of Canada: PERSONS SENTENCED TO DEATH IN CANADA, 1867-1976: An Inventory of Case Files in the Fonds of the Department of Justice
19:48:01 From Yvonne Demoskoff : The husband of one of my grandmother’s cousins is in that set of records, Gary
19:48:29 From Gary Gauthier : Oh, so you are aware of it, Yvonne
19:49:00 From Yvonne Demoskoff : I discovered it about 6 years ago, Gary
19:50:26 From Yvonne Demoskoff : the fellow killed five family members and was hanged for it in 1935 in the prov. of QC
19:50:33 From Gary Gauthier : Here is another good starting point in Canada (for the record):
19:51:09 From Yvonne Demoskoff : I’ll take a look at that
19:53:25 From Mark Barrus : Could possibly be foul play.
19:55:52 From Sheryl Whisenhunt : Never say never.
20:02:42 From Yvonne Demoskoff : His name is Michael Bradley
20:04:48 From Maurene Fehling : Thank you very much!!
20:04:56 From Mark Barrus : thanks again
20:05:33 From Deb Andrew : Mine is suppose to come tomorrow.
20:05:55 From Yvonne Demoskoff : Mine won’t be here for 1-3 months 🙁
20:07:15 From Deb Andrew : Yes.
20:07:31 From Mary Rieman : Yes
20:07:51 From Debbie Moore : Oh that would be lovely!
20:08:09 From Joyce Westphal to All panelists : Yes, would pay for a lecture series
20:08:11 From Yvonne Demoskoff : A small fee seems worth it
20:08:17 From Sarah Bell : Yes, if it’s at a good time for Aussies 😉
20:08:36 From Sarah Bell : 12.30 PM – thursday
20:09:42 From Gary Gauthier : I’m so busy now that I couldn’t at present, but maybe sometime later
20:10:10 From Yvonne Demoskoff : Goodnight!
20:10:14 From Gary Gauthier : bye

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