Diana Crisman Smith has been researching genealogy since childhood and has served as a lay librarian at the local Family History Center for more than 20 years. She has written for numerous genealogical publications, including current regular columns in the National Genealogical Society’s NewsMagazine and the Association of Professional Genealogists’ APG Quarterly.
I’m Diana Crisman Smith, and I’ve been researching my family since I was eleven years old. I have been helping others with their research for more than twenty years through writing, speaking, teaching and volunteering at the Family History Center. I have roots throughout the US and Europe, but US research is the starting place for all my family branches. Two of the most useful tools I use in US genealogical research are land records and census records.
Now that so many of the US censuses are available in online images or indexed online, researchers have a wonderful opportunity to use these important records. We all know that they are not perfect, since we can’t always find what we want easily. Join me to learn some tips to make the best use of these records by searching smarter.
I also love “playing in the dirt” with land records. If your ancestors were farmers, they are critical for you; if they were city folk, they still may have land purchases (they bought houses just like we do, which means land records). For those who were in the “Western states” (essentially west of the original colonies, plus a few special states), the Bureau of Land Management website is one of the most useful, but little-known, resources of the Federal Government.