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The Courthouse Rules
7/31/2014
You can't beat the county courthouse as a source for historical records. Crack your ancestors' case files with these guidelines from The Family Tree Resource Book for Genealogists.

The county courthouse. It's the place to find your ancestors. Today genealogists are used to heading straight to the computer to uncover information about their kin — and what you'll find online does indeed help your search. But if you stop there, you're missing the mother lode: Historical records galore are just waiting to be discovered at brick-and-mortar sites across the nation. In the county courthouse or town hall, for example, you can find everything from adoptions and apprenticeships to wills and wolf-scalp bounties.

The best part: You can access most of these records without making a trip to your ancestors' county. Although you probably won't find many of the courthouse's records online, you can find microfilmed copies of numerous county and town records at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Family History Library (FHL) <www.familysearch.org> in Salt Lake City. Search the FHL's online catalog (click the Library tab from the home page) for a county name and record type. If you find promising microfilms, go to your neighborhood Family History Center (FHC), a branch of the FHL, and ask to borrow them. To find an FHC near you, go to the FHL home page and click the link under Family History Library System, or look in the yellow pages under Churches — Latter-day Saints.

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