An important genealogy lesson: not all of the records we need to trace our ancestors were created and stored in the courthouse or the state archives. Each ancestor has unique life experiences and associations. And now, for the first time ever, we can find accounts of these lives and relationships easier than ever before. And if you are lucky, the very birth or death or marriage documents you seek will be included in one or more of these growing databases:
http://www.GenealogyBank.com–an Internet FEE site you want to visit often. In the month of November 2007 alone more than 1.5 million entries were added to the site. Categories posted online with every word indexes include these records:
1. Newspapers, both current and historic. Current obituaries from major newspapers are posted daily. Historic newspapers provide passenger lists, naturalizations, family reunions, early settlers, marriage and deaths, news as it happened like the bombing of
2. Early Americana–unique, short items like funeral sermons, last will and testaments, broadsides announcing war casualties.
4. Social Security Death Index–with more than 700,000 deaths before 1965. This is the only SSDI site updated every week. And the Social Security officials are ADDING pre-1965 entries every week! (Who ever told us that the earlier entries are incomplete in this enormous database?)
5. Historic Books, 1801-1900. These include necrologies and publications issued by obscure organizations like American Society of Instructors for the Deaf.
http://www.GenealogyToday.com This site is maintained by Illya D’Addezio who haunts
And if we are lucky, these overlooked and thrown-away or sold parts of our background also contain birth, death, and marriage documents. These vital records are supplied by the ancestors themselves to both public and private scribes at or near the time of the events.
This is a FREE site for index searches and some content. This is a FEE site for access to the digitized documents themselves. This is a gateway to Key Sites enabling you to see if there are hits elsewhere you also need to check.
http://www.WorldVitalRecords.com This FEE site includes small-town newspapers, parish registers from the British Isles and
http://www.labs.familysearch.org/ This site is a FREE test site offered by FamilySearch. They park databases, indexes, and digital images for genealogists to view, use, and comment on. The site includes
http://www.mortalityschedule.com Death dates and causes, length of residence in place of death, and other important genealogical details for the 12-month period before the 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880 censuses.
http://www.BYUfamilyhistoryarchives.org Some 5,000+ family histories are fully digitized and indexed on this site. Through partnerings with the Allen County Public Library in
http://www.footnote.com This FEE site includes American Revolutionary War Pension files and other records from the National Archives in
articles/nov07/1107alternatives.pdf This link connects you to a chart showing specific vital records databases on FEE websites with FREE alternatives on other sites. Please note that the free sites may be updated and corrected less often than the fee sites and the amount of data may be limited. Ancestry.com is one of the largest fee sites and has the largest membership to date. FamilySearch.org is the largest free site with an expanded indexing program that promises to provide access to the more than 2 million rolls of microfilm in their storage vaults as well as the digitized images they are currently collecting in archives around the world. This chart is a useful comparison of key bodies of data.
Access both FEE and FREE websites through local libraries. Many of the genealogy FEE sites, through special arrangements with public and university libraries and LDS family history centers, offer special versions of their databases. And many sites can be accessed as a Friend of the Library where they are offered.
Has the Internet Sub-Primed your Hard-to-Find Ancestors?
One of the most common questions I am asked is, “Have you noticed a drop in sales of your books because of the Internet?” My answer: “No. The materials in my publications, for the most part, are not available on the Internet. And I market them with that statement.”
The question is important. Libraries have noticed a drop in patrons. Publishers and book sellers have noticed a drop in both inquiries and sales.
My dear readers and fellow genealogists–BAD PRACTICE! How will you ever find your hard-to-trace ancestors if the media you use dictates the sources you have available?
Your genealogy research results are only as good as the resources you use. I could supply you with examples from my more than 600 research clients and 400 consultation clients. And I could give gory details on the times I have fallen into that sub-prime pit.
The easy ancestors fall onto your pedigree, often from the Internet databases. The hard ones require homework and legwork and scrollwork. And they require the documents: does the will say “my daughter” or does it state “to my granddaughter?”
No big deal? Both daughter and granddaughter come from the same lineage. Right? Perhaps. What if the fathers are the same, the mothers different? A generation can make a different lineage too.
Got to read the documents.
Some of the documents are conveniently on microfilm so they can be digitized at reasonable cost. Some documents survive only in private hands–without recorded copies at the courthouse or the National Archives. When the owner dies, the documents end up in the Historical Society or University Archives in the personal papers collections. These are rarely microfilmed or digitized.
Scholars are electrified ( and serious genealogists too) when someone takes the time to examine a set of personal papers and discovers an original record or original handwritten copy of a long lost will or property transaction which proves relationship or ownership claimed only as a tradition.
What if… the answer to your most difficult problem demands conscious, thorough research in out of the way collections?
Since I only get the hard-to-find ancestors to trace–the ones you look for and can’t locate–I seek genealogy evidence wherever I can find it. Try the sites above–many of them include the documents! Just don’t give up until you get the documents. Your favorite genealogy evidence guru, Arlene Eakle http://www.arleneeakle.com
PS Have you registered for the St. George Family History Jamboree, 8-9 Feb in Utah? Or the Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree 2008, 27, 28, 29 June in Burbank? The Kansas Genealogical Society 50th Anniversary Seminar, 11 Oct in Dodge City? I am speaking at all of these events–and I’d love to see you there. You can examine my books first-hand and tell me directly about your most difficult genealogy projects.