Just over three weeks in to my first two classes, and I'm already learning a lot. Whether it's from the actual classes (which are pretty introductory so far) or just my renewed sense of motivation to dig in even deeper, it doesn't really matter in the end. I've completed my Methodology 1 course, and am over halfway through the Census Records course, which I've found helpful so far.
In going back to my grandpa Jack Lankford, I've already branched out by reaching out to various places that I hadn't before - Moberly school district for his education records, St. Matthias for any church records, the American Society of Safety Engineers where he was a member, Washington University Archives for Monsanto employment records, and even Kutis funeral home for funeral records.
So far I've only heard back from Moberly school district. After finally finding the right person in charge of the historical records, she kindly called back to inform me that she only had access to records back to 1940. Grandpa's 1930s records were likely stashed away in a box in storage somewhere, and she did not have access to those.
It was disappointing to hear, but at the same time the mere fact that I'd tracked down the right person and received an actual informative response was considered "successful" to me. I was able to update my research log with the information so that I would know I'd at least tried.
In the meantime, I'd also been reaching out for some documents on Dad. He begrudgingly joked about "not living up to his full potential" when I asked him to sign a release for his high school transcripts. But to my surprise about a week later, I received them in the mail. I was surprised that they included not only information about the classes he took, teachers he had and grades he got, but also his parents' names, address, how many siblings he had, what elementary school he transferred from and where else his transcripts had been sent.
I also reached out to the church where Dad and his first wife had been married, and after a week's waiting and a polite followup email, received a digital copy of the marriage registry record for them. It didn't contain much information, but I was able to establish the exact date, who performed the ceremony, and even a marriage license number. Hopefully I can use this to locate the legal records for the marriage.
I think one thing I never really realized until putting all of this information together was that Dad was married literally six months after graduating from high school. I knew he had my brother when he was very young, but never really understood what things must have been like for him until seeing the dates back-to-back and really thinking about it in the greater context of things.
And so the research addiction takes hold...