Thursday, February 05, 2009

Casting the Genealogical Net

When doing family history, one of the important things to remember is that the evidence about your family (documents, photos, letters, applications, government records, church records, etc) can be in many different places. Your research needs to exhaust all these places in order to be comprehensive.

Most of us are familiar with the regular cast of characters in searching for our family, U.S. Federal Census, Vital Records, etc...but there are documents out there that we may not be familiar with. So you need to be open to all kinds of items that document the history of the time period that you are searching.

Remember, you are not just researching a person or family. You are researching collateral relatives, a locality, a historical era, and the neighbors.

Where should you be looking for information? Here are just some ideas:
  • Family History Library (order microfilm as well as search on website)

  • Other big genealogy libraries (Sutro in California and Allen County Public Library)

  • Ancestry and other websites

  • Public Library (both your and the one where your ancestor lived)

  • University Library

  • State Library and/or Archives

  • County Archives

  • Museum



  • Newspapers
  • ebay
  • Church Archives
  • Membership Societies
  • Genealogy Society ( local, regional and state)
  • Historical Society (local, regional, state)

Documents about your family could be almost anywhere. I've been reminded about that through various speakers presentations but also just today when I was reading a book to my kids. One of my kids pulled out a Hardy Boys' book that was mine when I was younger. I had bought it at a library book sale. The book, a library discard, still had the check out card in it. One that card was the names and dates of the kids who checked out this book back in the mid 1970's. These 'kids' would now be in their late 40's now.

Now, you may not be able to track down you grandfather's library check out card but you never know what could be out there until you look. Just think of all the different types of things that you sign, put your name and address on, etc, and remember, your grandparents put their name on more than a land deed and vital record forms.


Greta Koehl said...

Thank you for this list, Gena - it's a good checklist. I'm going to copy it into a document for my "always check these sites and places" folder.

N said...

Great information, Gena! Thank you for posting it. I recently received as a gift a commemorative cookbook "Make it Minnesotan" -- celebrating the sesquicentennial of the state. Recipes from all over the state are included, all with the names of the submitters, and often, the names of their mothers or grandmothers who made these dishes! A couple of them also tell where in Europe the grandmothers came from. As you said, you never know where you will find their names! NM in MN

Gena Philibert Ortega said...

I am so glad you mentioned cookbooks. It is another great example of finding female ancestors in non-standard genealogical resources.

tajicat said...

Thanks for sharing the list, and others for the idea of cookbooks by area. :)