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When you think you’ve looked everywhere for your ancestor, make sure you’ve covered these types of sources:
- City directories are great places to search for migratory ancestors. Ancestry.com’s collection is enormous and keeps getting bigger. Fold3 has near-complete runs of directories for some big cities, such as Chicago, and the local public library may have digitized directories for your ancestor’s town. For directories not online, look for microfilm and print versions at local public and large genealogy libraries.
- FamilySearch.org’s unindexed collections await the attentions of the site’s dedicated volunteers, so you can use these records only by browsing the pages. They include many county probate and deed records. Access these from the main search page under Browse All Published Collections, and filter by country and state. Examine the volume titles for any index volumes. It may take time to search these, but it’s faster and cheaper than a cross-country trip to see originals.
- Google Alerts allow you to set up automated searches for specific keywords, such as ancestors’ names. Google will alert you as it finds new material. Modify your search terms if you’re not getting useful results over time.
- Digitized records and books are everywhere. Local and state court records—some of the best brick-wall breakers ever—are increasingly appearing online. Ransack the websites of state and local governments, libraries, genealogical societies and colleges. Although it’s two years old already, Michael Hait’s third edition e-book Online State Resources for Genealogy is a good place to start.
From the January/February 2016 Family Tree Magazine