Out on a Limb: Running the Gamut

By Allison Dolan Premium

By now, many New Year’s resolutions are history. But that’s hardly surprising, considering how easily good intentions can fall victim to circumstance. For instance, once you discover your new treadmill has only two speeds — lightning and warp — you have just one logical move: Dump that exercise regimen and take up knitting. In lieu of endurance training, the TurboWalker 3000 makes a darn good blanket rack.

I hope your 2004 family history resolutions haven’t met the same fate as your fitness routine. Now’s the time when ambitious genealogy goals often succumb to the hustle and bustle of everyday life. You get busy. You get stuck. You start piling your blank pedigree charts on top of the treadmill

Fortunately, we know the secret to regaining your family history resolve: finding new approaches that will put your research back on track. And you won’t have to look far — this issue is full of advice and ideas to broaden your genealogical horizons.

Stumped on a particular ancestor or line? Let our cover story lead you beyond the stockpile of standard family history records. We highlight 10 brick-wall-busting sources — ones you might be over looking. Plus, we’ve included a handy checklist of even more family tree resources. Clip out (or photocopy) the list, stash it in your research binder and consult it when you’re unsure where to look next.

Creative thinking can guide you to further genealogical gold mines. For example, don’t forget to seek out records that illuminate your relatives’ personalities rather than simply provide names and dates. This issue sheds light on one such useful-but-unusual resource: patent records. You don’t have to be a genius to crack the annals of invention — and neither did your ancestors. All kinds of people, from Edisons to everyday folks, registered their innovations with the US Patent and Trademark Office.

Exploring ethnic roots can push you out of your research comfort zone, too. Consider American Indian genealogy, the focus of this issue’s “heritage spotlight”: The US government created a plethora of paperwork on native tribes; in fact, it documented American Indians more than any other US ethnic group. But you won’t uncover key family details by sticking with well-known staples such as vital records, wills and deeds — you’ll find more answers in tribal rolls, heirship files and other unique resources. If you have tribal ties, turn to our guide to those genealogical gems.

Whether you’re seeking clues in Indian rolls or draft records, geography is essential to tracking down your family’s documents. And though we’re all aware of the Web’s abundant family history records — censuses, newspapers, passenger lists and more — online place-finding aids such as maps and gazetteers may be unfamiliar territory. So find your way to our picks of the best mapping sites for genealogists.

In case your resolution isn’t research focused, we’ll also show you new ways to preserve your family history for future generations, For example, you can restore damaged old photos in a flash using the four software tricks.

If your New Year’s genealogy resolve has wavered, Family Tree Magazine‘s guidance will restore your resolutions’ momentum. You’ll be progressing at lightning speed before you know it — without even setting foot on that dusty TurboWalker 3000

From the April 2004 Family Tree Magazine