Up Your Ancestors
By B. Foof
Okay, so we are not literally digging up your ancestors, but you have
to admit it got your attention. However, the reason for the name change
has more to do with... well, I wanted to. With that said we could move
on to your next set of research options.
Family History Centers:
I personally have not had any experience with Family History Centers (FHC)
and the people I have talked to have mixed opinions on using this source.
I do know that FHC have limited hours of operation because they are usually
staffed by volunteers, so call ahead of time to make sure they are going
to be open. Keep in mind that whatever they do have at your local FHC
is just going to be indexes. This means once you think you have found
your ancestor you pay a fee and they send the microfilm with the record
on it from Utah to the FHC of your choice. Once it gets there, you have
a couple of days to look at it before it has to be sent back. It doesnt
sound too bad unless you go through that entire trouble just find out
that it wasnt your ancestor. They do have tons of information, a
lot of which is from outside the United States. So if you have the patience
(this is where I have a slight problem) it is worth a look.
National Archives is another place where you are going to need lots of
patience. They do have some great information though and the staffs, many
of which are volunteers, are usually very helpful. The problem here is
the amount of information: it takes awhile to find what you are looking
for. As a side note, while looking for my grandmothers name on immigrant
passenger lists I was told that there were lots of people that were never
put on the lists for various reasons. Some immigrants did not speak the
same language as the crew, some were under eighteen and traveling alone
(like my grandmother) and some were sick and were scared that they would
be sent home.
County Probate Offices:
Deeds, wills and divorce decrees are all considered public knowledge and
can be found in your County Probate Office. They all have private information
on the families involved. As tacky as it sounds this is a good source
for finding out who is related to who and how. It can also give you an
idea of how the families got along, if there was someone left out of a
will it may even say why.
Local History Sections of The Library:
If you want to find out about ancestors, yours or anyone elses,
local libraries are a good source. However, as a genealogical resource
it is not going get you tons of information unless your family was very
prominent within the town. The real value of your local libraries during
research is their old newspapers. Most libraries have these on microfilm
either with or without indexes. While other sources will get you more
names and dates, reading through the newspaper will give you more of a
sense of who these people were. What was written in the paper was usually
a reflection of the type of people in the community (farmers, merchants,
etc.). The papers back before the 1940s or so were also more willing
to print detailed accounts of things. This is especially true about obituaries:
if someone was killed in an accident, you can be sure that the paper will
tell you exactly how he or she died. They also would mention the names
and addresses of every relative the person had, anyone that may have predeceased
them and sometimes where they were going to be buried, so it is worth
reading through any gruesome information.
Next time I will go over the different Historical Societies, Magazines
and Websites that are out there and I promise it will not take me so long
to write it.
POETRY & STORIES