Thursday, December 27, 2007

Forgetting What Is In Front of You!

If you work long enough at it, you will eventually hit some sort of "brick wall" in your genealogy. If you figure that 8 generations back you will have 256 6th great-grandparents, it easy to accept that one or more of those lines are bound to cause you research problems.

Before you start hunting for documents, I always recommend that you seek out the OLDEST members of your known family, on both your parents sides... whether they be parents, grandparents, uncles/aunts or cousins. They carry the family "stories" in their brains, that you will never be able to match with certificates and deeds.

Interview them, ask them for personal anecdotes, the skeletons in the closet, and a description if photographs are not available. These will be precious clues in your research.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Photographic Archives: Hidden Clues

A much overlooked portion of genealogical research are online photograph and document archives.

Some of my favorites that are completely searchable by keywords and they are FREE! And please do not ASSUME that because an archive in Michigan, it won't contain anything about New Hampshire... you are so wrong.

American Memory

Google Books

Cornell University's "Making of America"

Digital History

Google News Archive

Harvard University VIA (Photographs)

The Internet Archive (Photographs, Documents, Newsreels)

Michigan University's "Making of America"

New Hampshire Political Library

NPS Historic Photograph Collection

NYPL Digital Library

Photographic Archive of Michigan

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Quick Ancestor Search

I've heard the darndest excuses why it is too difficult to locate an ancestor on the internet. There are an amazing number of resources out there, and many of them are free.

Here are some simple tips on researching a name....

1. Start with Google, but use the advanced search. This allows you to view more than 10 results at a time. If you know the location where they lived, or their wife's name, include that one of the search keywords.

2. Next move on to Google Books. Even though the Google Search engine may be producing some links, you should still search specifically using the book search engine. Ditto on including as many keywords as possible to narrow your search, if the name is a common one.

3. HeritageQuest - this is a service that is available, for free, at your local library. Many libraries allow you to access this service from home, via your computer. The plus side is that you can get hundreds or thousands of "hit" results. The down side is that the search engine is not 100% accurate. If I know the location where my ancestor lived, I will also use the "Place" search on their town and county. Once I find a history for the town they lived in, I will double check the index of the book for more information on their family. I've hit paydirt many times by doing this. Also don't forget to search on an ancestor's WIFE's name, or on a child if their name was unusual.

4. Rootsweb. As much as you should show caution when looking at individuals through a search engine on Rootsweb, the information may at least point you in the right direction.

5. Do not forget to post your research question on family research message boards. When you post make sure the TITLE of your post is very specific. Do NOT post: Seeking John Smith. Instead consider being more specific.: John and Joan (Jones) Smith of Portland Maine