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Monday, August 8, 2011

Accessing Premium Sites Through The FHC Portal

Gain access to the FHC Portal at a FamilySearch Center to discover premium subscription websites that may help you break down a "brick wall."  Find a FamilySearch Center near you:  FamilySearch Centers
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Sunday, August 7, 2011

Locating Hard-To-Find-Ancestors on the US Census

Sometimes ancestors's names were misspelled on the US Census making it a challenge to find them. Also, sometimes they were enumerated using initials or nicknames. Many times names have been misspelled when they were indexed and you cannot find them in an online database.

With census index books, you can more easily locate your ancestor. See Using Federal Census Indexes.

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Saturday, August 6, 2011

Save Your Family's Stories

When an ancestor dies it is as if a whole library burns to the ground. They take their memories and our history with them.  Your family stories and oral history also provide vital clues for for researching your family history. As you record and preserve stories and history, you are saving your own legacy and binding your family together for generations to come.

We just need to stop long enough to ask the right questions and listen. I have been very fortunate to have been able to formally interview the elders in my family. I have been able to find clues which helped me to discover the names and whereabouts of ancestors. I have also been blessed to discover how much I have in common with my forbears. Every time I get stuck in my research, I find someone to interview. I ask about names, dates, and places, but I also let the person I interview tell their stories. I record and transcribe these interviews. See Find Your Ancestor.

Need help with what to ask? Visit the following site:
50 Questions For Family History Interviews  because I find myself referring to them many times.
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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

How to Identify What You Know and What You Don't Know

Visit Getting Started With Your Family History to download a Family Tree Chart.

You will be able to easily identify so many more resources to help you document your ancestors using a Family Tree Chart.  Don't worry about the missing information, just fill out what you do know about your ancestor.

Be sure to include every level of government when entering place information.  Sometimes people are missing the name of the county or parish.  Records were generated at the city, county/parish, state and federal levels of government.

Here are some examples of record types and which level of government they represent:

City:  city hall records, city ordinances, city directories

County:  birth, marriage, deaths

State:  census, vital records, militia, voting

Federal:  census, military, tax

If you need to know the county or parish, Roots Web is a great place to start: U.S. Town/County Database.

Your next step would be to identify the records generated at each level of government for each place during the lifetime of your ancestor.

See Guide to Federal Records at the National Archives.

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Monday, August 1, 2011

Preserve Your Family Letters

Have you asked around to determine who may have received a handwritten letter from your ancestor?  You can find clues to which family members corresponded with your ancestor by reading the letters your ancestor left behind.  With the latest computer and internet technology, handwritten letters are very rare these days.

Our ancestors kept in touch with the family they were close to before they migrated from the ancestral home.  They wanted to keep up with what was happening with family members, and when they were not planning visits, they would write.

Because family members were the main topic in these letters, you never know what you might discover.  Senator Frank Gilbert, Sr. of Florence, South Carolina, devoted a great deal of his free time to identifying family members.  My grandfather's cousin gave the letter that my grandfather sent her to Frank.

I am sure it was of great value to him because it identified the name of our common ancestor, Jane and her brother, Henry Smith.  In my research, I am constantly finding extended family who Frank discovered and reached out to.

I am very happy he kept my grandfather's letter in safe keeping.  In the letter, he spoke of visiting his cousin during the Spring or Summer of 1972.  I am not yet sure if he was able to make this visit.  He passed away August 25, 1972.

It is very significant that I point out that if it were not for an interview with an extended family member who is a descendant of Henry Smith in Washington D. C., I would not have recognized the names of the Smith extended family members in this letter.  This is where I learned that Henry was the brother of my great great grandmother, Jane Smith Johnson.

I traced all of the children and grandchildren of Henry, so when I read this letter for the first time I knew who they were.  It is really very neat to me also that it seems my grandfather traced his family by writing letters and asking questions and visiting.  Some of his questions I have discovered the answers to. I feel as though the baton has been passed to me.
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