Tuesday, October 2, 2012

There is always one more place to look

I tell myself this all the time. As long as the name I am looking for has only been known to me for a few weeks, there have to be more sources to check out before saying I cannot find a darn thing.

I usually start with the census records. Those records can lead to public family trees, which provide clues, not facts, to further ancestors. Next source that I check is familysearch. They update constantly and have many records which are easily searchable. But it is good to bear in mind that both census records sources and familysearch can be searched in various ways. My favorites are to look for the card catalog on ancestry.com and the recent sources on familysearch (scroll down on the main page). I might want to search birth records in a particular state. If I search those, I may come up with more precise records than by using a general search of the entire site. I'll find some of those spelling variations that might not show up outside the narrower context.

Next--I might look at google books, which often has names and places not searchable on the regular search engine. Then I might go back to the web and look for the last name and date of birth or death, the last name+early settler+name of town. Or first and last name+bio. And so on. if the person I am searching for has a very common name, I try to find a sibling or close relative with an unusual first name. I search them--hey--same family!! Same ancestors.

I look for land records, and I look in the State Genweb archives. I look for information on the spouse. Sometimes the spouse is a cousin, or close family friend. Or the spouse may have been tracked by genealogists already. If so, the collateral info on the person you are interested in is readily available.

If the generations are recent, I look at the many websites which show a person's name, location, and family. They actually tell you to whom the person is related.

Findagrave is just great.

In some locations there are digitized newspapers which can be accessed for free. I don't consider a search of ancestors from California or Northern New York complete without looking through the excellent collections there (see previous posts for info).

Don't forget that there may be State census records that haven't yet been indexed at ancestry.com. Familysearch has quite a few, and so does the US Genweb Census Project. Even more may be found in State records. Keep searching and you will find what is available. Most records can be accessed for free. If you want to access Heritage Quest, you can probably do so with a library card, and it might be possible to get online access from your home to the records. I had to travel to a neighboring county to get a card in a library with such access, which in my State I am entitled to do.

There is more...will update now and then!

And there is always one more place to look. When you find your dead end, remember that!

1 comment:

Claudia said...

I was really excited when I found the link to Find a Grave on Ancestry. But I laughed when I found that my links were things that I had posted myself.

I have not done the Google search with the criteria you mentioned, but I will do it now. I am looking for Revolutionary War Era information in central PA.