365 Ways to Discover Your Roots: May 2006

365 Ways to Discover Your Roots: May 2006

Make 2006 a breakthrough year for your family tree quest with our tip-a-day research calendar.


1. Increase your know-how at a family history workshop. A nearby public library may host one, or you can choose from the Genealogical Speaker’s Guild <www.genealogicalspeakersguild.org> schedule.

2. Maybe your ancestor isn’t on US passenger lists because he came via Canada. See the August 2004 Family Tree Magazine for information on border-crossing records, called St. Albans Lists.

3. Do a good deed: Purchase an orphaned family Bible or photo from a flea market and track down its rightful owner using Web sites such as BibleRecords.com <www.biblerecords.com> and Dead Fred.

4. Try searching for immigrant ancestors’ passport applications. You’ll find passports from 1795 to 1925 at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in Washington, DC—see <archives.gov/genealogy/passport>. The FHL has some indexes, too.

5. Happy Cinco de Mayo!Visit Somos Primos <www.somosprimos.com> to learn about Hispanic and Latin American culture and ancestry.

6. Subscribe to one of the National Genealogical Society’s special-interest online research forums at <www.ngsgenealogy.org/forums.cfm>.

7. Search the archives of the electronic mailing lists you belong to.

8. Check libraries and historical societies for ancestral town anniversary booklets or newspaper accounts of centennial celebrations-they usually include retrospectives and early residents’ biographies.

9. Coroners’ records may contain clues to an ancestor’s untimely death, or at least make for interesting reading. Availability is spotty-try the FHL catalog and contact the coroner’s office to ask where old records reside.

10. Go back to your local FHC to continue viewing or ordering microfilm.

11. Prepare for a research trip to the courthouse. Call or look online to check record holdings, hours and visitor regulations. List records you want to find.

12. Have your day in court. Never researched in a courthouse before? See the May 2005 Trace Your Family History, a special issue of Family Tree Magazine, for advice from a first-timer.

13. Supplemental US censuses covered manufacturing, industry and agriculture for various census years from 1810 to 1880. Order them from the FHL or check repositories that have the regular census.

14. It’s Mother’s Day-the perfect day to research your maternal lines. Then call your mom!

15. Browse the ProGenealogists Internet site <www.progenealogists.com/resources.htm> for a source citation guide, international research resources and more.

16. Brainstorm clubs, fraternal organizations or trade associations your ancestors may have belonged to. See the June 2004 Family Tree Magazine for details on researching these records.

17. Have old videotapes or films? Find services that will convert them to digital format in the yellow pages under Video Tape Duplication and Video Production Services. See the December 2005 Family Tree Magazine for more information.

18. Conduct that oral history interview. No elder relatives? Consider talking to family friends or neighbors, or use this day to write down your reflections about a favorite family member.

19. Seek out records from your ancestors’ funeral homes. Check obituaries and death certificates for the name, then contact the homes or look for their records in historical societies and libraries.

20. Update your blog or see what’s new at Genealogy Blog.

21. If you missed your favorite genealogical conference last year, order the syllabus and lectures on tape from the group’s Web site.

22. Is your computer hard drive a mess? Look into software that organizes your documents, such as PaperPort <www.nuance.com/paperport> or Clooz <www.clooz.com>.

23. Take your article citations from last month’s PERSI search and head to the nearest genealogy library. If the library doesn’t have a publication you need, ask to borrow it through interlibrary loan.

24. The often-overlooked records of city, county or town councils could lead you to business licenses, petitions or minutes bearing your ancestor’s name. Records may be at municipal or state archives, or public libraries.

25. Search for your forebears using Joe Beine’s directory of online death-record indexes <home.att.net/~wee-monster/deathrecords.html>.

26. Veteran ancestors or their widows may have applied for military pensions — depending on the war, records may be at NARA <archives.gov> or in state archives. Consult the October 2005 Family Tree Magazine for help finding them.

27. Does your research involve records from other countries? Get a handy foreign word list from FamilySearch: On the home page, click Guides, then Word List, then find your country.

28. Look through boxes of old letters for postcards. They may show your ancestors’ favorite places-or, if they’re photo postcards, your ancestors themselves.

29. This Memorial Day, visit the grave of a family member who served in the military. If you like, leave a note to unknown cousins who may be paying tribute to the same person.

30. Occupational directories-listings of people in a particular profession-may give you clues to relatives’ daily lives. Look for them at your local library or historical society.

31. Do some one-stop Web searching for surnames and localities on Linkpendium <www.linkpendium.com>.

From the February 2006 issue of Family Tree Magazine.

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