Useful Sources

April 18, 2010 at 7:08 pm (Uncategorized)

In the beginning, I mentioned that I would indicate the sources that I have found most beneficial in tracing our families’ roots.

Most immediately, I would single out personal memories, my own and others, about family members and their experiences. How often I have grieved that I did not speak about those who preceeded us with their living contemporaries.  However, I was either too young to care, or I did not yet have the pertinent questions to ask. As assistance in this task of retrieval, I cherish photographs and letters that give insight into former times and situations.

I would rank government documents next in importance. At the start of life birth records furnish a wealth of information. These may be supplemented with listings from baptismal registers and newspaper notices. At life’s conclusion I gather much information from death records, funeral and cemetery records, as well as printed obituaries. Sometimes resourceful relatives have kept pamphlets or leaflets associated with religious services and burials. In addition the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) offers valuable clues into when and where a person died.

Marriage notices rank near the top of ordinary government documents pointing to a most significant branching out of a person’s life. Next to that, especially for men, are military records: draft registrations, enlistment and discharge papers, pension requests and treatment in and through the Veterans’ Administration. I would, indeed, single out census records, both Federal and State, as a trove of information. These reports go back to 1790 and become part of the public record seventy-two years after the census was taken. So, for example, the 1940 Federal census will be in the public domain in the year 2012.

To complete this brief listing, I would mention how invaluable local newpapers have been in giving the day-by-day flavor of a family’s life in a given community. They note the earthshaking (“Jim Willis drowned in the Columbia River”), the life-changing (“Mr. McKanna left on Tuesday for the Yukon gold fields”),  and the ordinary (” Lizzie McKanna visited friends in Juneau last weekend”).

When it comes to tracing ancestors, especially back to foreign roots, that is another task. I will take it up later in another post.


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Update on the Blog

April 7, 2010 at 3:30 pm (Willis Family)

Today is April 7, 2010. I have just signed off on a first article about the Fleming family: “The Mysterious Flemings.” As I have posted it as it developed, those of you who have looked at it already will find it completed now.

I have met my first goal: an article about each of the four families about whom I have direct, personal experience.  I will turn my attention now to the other four families: Rooney and Caldwell, Steltjes and Lynch. I know about them, either from their descendents or from genealogical records.

As of today, this blog has invited 111 visits from interested viewers. The article on “Judge Willis: Democrat, Republican, or Independent?” generated a few comments. I have posted three of them at the conclusion of the article. More are welcome–for any and all articles.

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