by Paula Stuart-Warren
After a meal, my mother always corrected me and said that meat is â€œdoneâ€ and that I was â€œfinishedâ€ with my meal. Done? Finished? Completed? Exhausted all resources? Already published? Somebody else did that line? Canâ€™t find anything else on them? Does one of these reflect your research? Have you truly exhausted all resources?Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
While we may have limitations as far as access to some of the records we need to seek out in our family history, donâ€™t shut your mind off yet. There are some less traveled avenues that may hold some clues to ancestral details and could place your ancestor in a specific locality at given time.
Regular readers may remember that I have previously advocated using a professional genealogist or a knowledgeable fellow member of your local genealogical society as a reviewer of your research. If you have some seemingly unsolvable gaps they may be able to present you with some research paths to try. Their fresh eyes and thoughts may give you a nice list of things to delve into.
Keep an Open Mind
In many cases that bugaboo in our research path may be related to checking only the usual and generally easily accessible resources. Perhaps you might have checked just the wonderful online indexes, abstracts, and digitized images. What else might there be? Ah, clear your mind and get ready for a wealth of often overlooked resources. Some â€œbeyond the usualâ€ resources may include:
- Voter records
- Wolf bounties
- Ear marks/brands
- Business records
- General store ledgers
- Grand Army of the Republic (GAR)
- Hereditary organizations
- Old settlers clubs
- Railroad accidents
- Burial permits
- Permits to transport corpses
- Coroner records
- Minutes of meetings
- Delayed births
- Guardianship records
- Commitments to institutions
- Prison/jail records
- Century farm records
In future columns I will tell you more about several of these resources, but in the meantime, here are a few places to learn more about many of these. These books and websites will also give you many more resources to ponder. Just look at the table of contents and the index for these books, and you will be hooked!
For some of us facing the long winter, reading these will help us ignore the cold and snow.
GuideÂ to Genealogical Research in the National Archives. 3d ed. When you finish browsing that, try the third volume, The Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States, which is also online at the U.S. National Archives website. www.archives.gov
Hidden Sources: Family History in Unlikely Places, by Laura Szucs Pfeiffer
The Source: A Guidebook to American Genealogy, 3rd. ed. (editors, Loretto Dennis Szucs and Sandra Hargreaves Luebking)
- Institutes, seminars, and conferences. If you can attend one or more of these, look for courses/lectures that offer more on resources that are beyond the usual.
- Check out LuLu.comÂ for affordable and downloadable recordings of most lectures from the recent Federation of Genealogical Societies/New England Historic Genealogical Society Boston Conference. There were many lectures that had never been presented before at such a conference.
- Peruse the catalogs at a state or county library or archives website for details and years of coverage for these and other records. Try these even if you donâ€™t have ancestry in that area. Informational pages and individual record descriptions tell about the contents of records, including many of those listed above.
- Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records
- Library of Virginia
- Minnesota Historical Society and State Archives
- New York State Archives
- Check out Ancestry, USGenWebÂ and other online sites for indexes and abstracts of an array of these records.
Your problem might be answered in one of these resources. At the least, you will greatly expand your knowledge and can impress your family and friends. (I am sure they will be willing to sit and listen to you . . . What? Yourâ€™s wonâ€™t either?)
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About the Author
Paula Stuart-Warren, CG, of St. Paul, Minnesota is a professional genealogist, consultant, writer, and lecturer. She has lectured all across the U.S. and coordinates the Intermediate Course, American Records & Research at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. She is a contributor to several periodicals including Ancestry Magazine. Comments will reach her at PSWResearch@comcast.net. Paula is unable to answer individual genealogical research inquiries due to the volume of e-mails received. From time to time, comments from readers may be quoted in her writings. She will not use your name but may use your place of residence (i.e. Davenport, IA).
Upcoming Appearances by Paula Stuart-Warren, CG
(Paula enjoys meeting fellow genealogists at these events so please introduce yourself as an Ancestry Weekly Journal and 24/7 Family History Circle reader.)
- 27-28 October 2006, Washington, D.C.
Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Conference on Early American Records
- 8-12 January 2007, Salt Lake City, UT
Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, Utah Genealogical Association
— American Records and Research Course
— Midwestern U.S. Research and Operating a Successful Business