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Archive for the ‘Records’ Category

New Bedford Whaling Photo (Cropped) by Lee Wright on Flickr/Creative Commons

New Bedford Whaling
Photo (Cropped) by Lee Wright on Flickr/Creative Commons

If you think you had an ancestor who worked aboard a whaling ship, you now have a means of checking for him online, at least if he signed out from New Bedford. Volunteers at the New Bedford Whaling Museum have created a database with information on all the mariners who signed onto whaling ships leaving the port of New Bedford from 1840 to the last whaler in 1927. The information comes from records kept by the chaplains of the New Bedford Port Society. When this was completed it was combined with previous work done at the New Bedford Free Public Library that brought the time covered back 31 years to 1809. This combined work covers 127,531 seamen.

Although these men came from all over the world, they were only listed if they signed on from the port of New Bedford.  Those picked up along the way from places like the Azores were not listed unless they subsequently left on another voyage from New Bedford.  For more information check the Boston Herald article “Did Your Ancestor Hunt Whales?” and the Whaling Museum’s website.

Keeping with this nautical theme, my next posting will focus on a key website covering ship passenger lists from the 1600s to the 1900s.

vea/4 August 2016
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass
Library website:  http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net
Genealogy blog:  https://thecuriousgenealogist.wordpress.com
Genealogy LibGuide:  
http://guides.newtonfreelibrary.net/genealogy

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Map that you see on the main wiki page at FamilySearch.org

Map from the main wiki page at FamilySearch.org

Our ancestors had a tendency to move around.  If they didn’t, we probably wouldn’t have so much trouble finding their records.  When you track people from state to state, you start noticing what holds true for finding records in one state is not necessarily true in another.  Different types of records were kept during different periods in different places.  For example, those who are used to the time frame of New England vital records, which can go back as far as the 1600s, are startled to find that New York state started saving birth, marriage, and death records at a far later date.  New York finally passed a law requiring the collection of vital records in the 1880s, but it was very slow to be implemented. You can still have difficulty finding them in a number of New York towns during the early part of the 20th century.

When you start to follow your ancestor into a new state, you need to do some homework or you may miss key information. Otherwise you could hit a brick wall that you’ve unwittingly constructed yourself. So how do you find out which records were kept when and where they are located? One very good source is Ancestry’s Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources. You can check information on the various types of records available under each of the fifty states. This book is available in the Newton Free Library’s Special Collections Room for quick consultation or a more detailed read. But if you are working elsewhere and you don’t want to interrupt your work to look for a book, you have a simple alternative.  Red Book is available online at the following live link. Click on it and read away.  http://www.ancestry.com/wiki/index.php?title=Red_Book:_American_State,_County,_and_Town_Sources

But what about records outside the United States?  There are a very large number of books on family history research that deal with specific countries and even areas within a country. But for now you want to know how much trouble you are going to have tracking your line back to another country. You just want to get a general lay of the land. This is where FamilySearch’s wikis are invaluable.

If you have done much research in genealogy at all, you learn that, besides Ancestry, FamilySearch.org is one of the most extensive databases for genealogical records. The nice thing about FamilySearch is that, unlike Ancestry, it is free. Upon first discovering FamilySearch you will no doubt zero in on searching for records and thus might be likely to miss all its other resources. If you focus on the very top of its home page (as of July 2016) and run your cursor over the word “Search” you will see a dropdown menu. At the bottom of that menu you will see the word “wiki.”  Click on it and you see a map and an invitation to search the wiki by place or topic. For countries such as England that have a huge amount of literature written about researching ancestors, the topic is made manageable by the way FamilySearch sets up its main wiki page for each country.

But where do you find information for other countries where the records may not be so easily accessible?  Anyone who saw America Ferrera’s segment on TLC’s cable program “Who Do You Think You Are?” understands how difficult such a search can be, even when you have help. She was searching for information on her father’s family in Honduras, a quest made especially challenging because of the problems of record preservation by both local as well as national governments.  Specifically, where do you find basic information on the existing records of countries whose history has been filled with internal conflict?  FamilySearch’s wiki is an excellent place to start. Check out Honduras, or any other country of interest, to see what FamilySearch has done with it.  There are a number of links to information, records, and online help. Just as you would consult maps before taking a trip, it’s a good idea to know something about where you are going before you get there.

 

vea/29 July 2016
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass
Library website:  http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net
Genealogy blog:  https://thecuriousgenealogist.wordpress.com
Genealogy LibGuide:  
http://guides.newtonfreelibrary.net/genealogy

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How can I track down records?

How can I track down records?

I became aware of LDSGenealogy through a Dick Eastman post sent to me by a genealogy buddy.  Being a skeptical New Englander to begin with, I was suspicious when I saw the name.  I know that FamilySearch.org is the official LDS family history site.  What exactly was going on with this site? Luckily my skepticism was unwarranted. The site is completely legit. The people in charge of the site explain who they are and what they are doing in their “About” section. In it they state “As members of the LDS Church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), we originally designed the site to be helpful for LDS church members doing genealogy research. We have since expanded the site to include a lot of helpful information for everyone. We welcome any and all visitors who might find this site helpful.”

And helpful it is.  It is a directory of records useful to genealogists that can be found online. When you go into it, you will see a list of states, counties, and towns and cities.  You won’t waste a lot of time looking through individual subscription and free services to locate a needed record. Under each location listed there are groupings of records and where you can find them online.  If they are not online, of course, you will need to continue hunting.

There is another very good reason to take a look at the site — the articles.  They are excellent.  I’ve been doing family history research for awhile now, but each time I go into an article I learn something or sometimes remember a tip or caution that I had forgotten over the years.  Take a look at this site.  It will be well worth your time.  The home page is logically laid out, simple and straightforward.

LDS Genealogy: http://ldsgenealogy.com

 

vea/25 March 2016
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass
Library website:  http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net
Genealogy blog:  https://thecuriousgenealogist.wordpress.com
Genealogy LibGuide:  http://guides.newtonfreelibrary.net/genealogy

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