Weekly Planner: Switch from People to Places

House in Rathcalen, Co. Westmeath, IrelandIf you’re stuck on a particular ancestral line, try moving your investigation from the people to the places they lived. Using your favorite search engine, seek information on the city, neighborhood or town, institutions like churches, schools and organizations that existed when your ancestor was there. Look for local histories that may be posted on the websites of municipalities, congregations, chambers of commerce, businesses, schools and universities, etc. Doing so will not only give you some insight into what their lives were like, it will broaden your knowledge of the area and possibly alert you to new avenues of research.

8 thoughts on “Weekly Planner: Switch from People to Places

  1. This is such a great idea – I had not thought of it before. I will be looking in other places now for information I have not been able to find.

  2. Please don’t forget to look for a local Historical Society and or Genealogical Society. They will know more about the area and may well hold the key to your research. Some Societies publish books that focus on local churchs, cemeteries etc.

    The family database at our local Historical Society contains more than 18,000 names and has links to newspaper obits, census, tax and land records. Our cemetery database contains information on over 8,000 people buried in our local cemteries. We also have copies of the pre-1900 church records
    for all but one of the churches.

  3. Excellent idea! I confess I have been stuck in a births, marriages and deaths ‘loop’, if you get what I mean. I’m also trying to put flesh on the bones and not just regard my ancestors as names on certificates and in records which I seem to have been doing too much lately. Your suggestions have come along just in time and woken me up!

    Finding out what the area was like they lived in, the local history and the schools they would have attended etc etc will help bring them to life again. I went to the Museum of London at the weekend and saw a wonderful photograph taken around 1890 in the Bethnal Green area of London. I have just traced, FINALLY after 20 years of looking, my Great Granny Emma Smith who lived in Bethnal Green at that time. The family that was photographed was poor, as were my GGranny Smith’s family, and I can now visualise better how they would have lived. Thank you so much for your suggestions!

  4. Adding pictures of a town/area of “when Grandpa lived there” make a nice addition to a notebook. The vital record documents are necessary but pictures really add impact of how an ancestor might have lived and what was happening during their lifetime.

  5. Your suggestion to research an area hit home for my family research. I had very little information on one family branch, so was quite surprised to find some key members in the 1880 Federal census in Colorado, after finding them only in Ohio for many years previous and after the 1880 census. I was very skeptical and wondered if they were indeed family. I researched the area and found there had been a gold find some years before. Then, in later censuses, found descendants of some of those early people. Gold apparently brought them to the Denver area, but other things kept them there. There was never any indication in our family oral history that we had relatives in Colorado.
    This area research suggestion also aids in answering why our ancestors settled in a specific place.

  6. dear Ancestry Members,
    I have done research in local places , i have to go to the
    court of justice, to search for my ansisters, but i have lost
    my complete data’s by ancestry com; I had started a tree , but my pc crast all my work for notting only my written things i have still, I have a cd with information , but the tree can not
    be remaked . I wash a free ancestry com , do they take the information or what they do with it , I think there is a hole new ancestry com…….
    sincere patrice desutter

  7. We have several family researchers working together and all of us use different methods. We have had great success in going to area websites i.e. Union County, IL, etc. One also uses a timeline showing how the family followed the farming frontiers and uses old maps to illustrate. We are finding new information daily by visiting areas online.

  8. I’ve done this in a round about way. I have pictures of my great grandparents standind in front of their house. The picture was taken in commemmoration of their Fiftieth wedding anniversary. I had found out where they had lived by looking for them in a Worcester, Mass. city directory on Ancestry.com.Then a friend of mine moved to Worcester and lived on the same street that my great grandparents lived on! I got to visit her a few times and I got to see the neighborhood that my ancestors lived on.

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