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Alternative/Hidden Sources of Genealogical Information Collier County Genealogical Society May 10, 2011 Bryan L. Mulcahy Reference Librarian Fort Myers-Lee.

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Presentation on theme: "Alternative/Hidden Sources of Genealogical Information Collier County Genealogical Society May 10, 2011 Bryan L. Mulcahy Reference Librarian Fort Myers-Lee."— Presentation transcript:

1 Alternative/Hidden Sources of Genealogical Information Collier County Genealogical Society May 10, 2011 Bryan L. Mulcahy Reference Librarian Fort Myers-Lee County Library Tel: (239) 533-4626 E-Mail:

2 Alternative Records Defined 1. Most reliable option when standard primary sources incomplete or non-existent. 2. May be a document, diary, record, photograph, heirloom, etc. 3. May provide the same basic or similar type of information that a genealogist would hope to find in a primary source. (Census, Birth, Marriage, Death) 4. Can serve as corroborating testimony or proof to substantiate information found in primary sources

3 Importance of Alternative Sources 1. Provide alternative localities of residence that were previously unknown. 2. Provide family facts which impacted the life or migration of a family or individual. a. May have worked for the railroad. b. May have worked on projects (building or expanding canals/waterways, railroads) c. May have been assigned to road work crews. d. May have been employed as a traveling salesperson, preacher, or related occupation.

4 Importance of Alternative Sources 3. Census enumeration may not have occurred in place of residence: a. May have occurred at place of employment, school/college, etc. b. May have been part of a work crew (railroad, canals, etc.) and were enumerated wherever they were at time of census. c. May have been counted in multiple jurisdictions. 4. Provide clues in terms of occupations, education, or relationships that lead to other potential types of data and records which may have otherwise been overlooked.

5 Importance of Alternative Sources 5. Often play significant role in overcoming research brick walls (June speech).

6 Valuable Reference Tools

7 1. Identify 100+ potential sources. 2. Provide illustrations & highlights of genealogical importance. 3. Closest option to a complete list of potential sources. 4. Of the two titles listed the best is “Hidden Sources”.

8 Most Useful Alternative Record Types 1.“Hidden Sources” identifies over 100 options. 2. Focus tonight: most useful and accessible options. 3. FM offers study guides that cover many of these records types. 4. If interested, e-mail request and I’ll send electronically.

9 Church/Synagogue Records 1.All denominations maintain some form of records. 2.Historical perspective: the church was the center of most families social, economic, and political life. 3.Most major life events were reported in church bulletins, documents, certificates, meeting minutes, etc.

10 Church/Synagogue Records 4. Definition of life events: a. Birth b. Baptisms, Christenings, Presentations, Dedications c. Confirmations, Bar Mitzvahs, Teen Acceptance of Christ as Personal Savior d. Adult Baptisms e. Change in Denominational Membership f. Letters of Recommendation –Transfer to Church (Another Locality) g. Divorces/annulments

11 Church/Synagogue Records 5. Information in church/synagogue records tends to be more accurate than in civil records. 6. Often contained specific references to localities of current/previous residences, family circumstances, and the old country. 7. Prior to the mandates for vital records/civil registrations, churches were the primary entity that kept track of common people.

12 School Records & Censuses 1.Some districts arrange records in family groups since families tended to be much larger prior to the mid-20 th century. 2.Usually contain specific references to: a. Parents b. Occupations c. Place of residence d. Emergency contacts (relatives, neighbors, etc. e. Name of foster or adoption agency with jurisdiction when applicable

13 School Records & Censuses 3. Individual school records may contain: a. School histories b. Report card grades and comments c. Lists of students attending school and grade level d. Club and fraternal memberships e. Alumni directories f. Disciplinary hearings, procedures, etc.

14 Military Service/Pension Records 1.Difficult to use yet can be very informative. 2.MUST know when and where the ancestor served in the armed forces (branch of service and regiment). 3.Military required some level of proof of identity and information was noted on application or draft cards. 4.Level of proof varied by time periods and circumstances. 5.Fairly good source for birth, parental, locality of origin/residence, and source for next of kin and spousal information).

15 Military Service/Pension Records 6. Pension applications required much higher levels of proof for identity and other personal/family information and proof of service 7. Burial records in military cemeteries are usually more detailed than civil burials 8. Why? Family must prove the veteran was entitled to the ceremony or burial.

16 Courthouse Records 1.Deeds & probates: most useful from research perspective. 2.When searching, remember that what constitutes property has changed over time. 3.Probate packets determine the settlement of estates and distribution of decedents property.

17 Courthouse Records 4. Deeds may shed light on the following: a. Grantee/grantor b. Waterways through or near property c. Neighbors d. Names of witnesses (often family members or close friends) e. Legal description of property/properties f. Payment arrangements g. Dower release (if applicable) h. Previous owners name, address, county of residence i. Signature or mark of those involved in transaction j. Possible references to other places of residence, persons in other jurisdictions, etc.

18 Courthouse Records 5. Nature of probate packet information is determined by whether decedent died testate or intestate. a. Testate (If decedent had a will made out prior to death) (1) Name of executor of will and relationship to decedent. (2) Names of witnesses who testified to the validity and terms mentioned in will. (3) Distribution of property, personal items, money, etc. to people mentioned in will.

19 Courthouse Records (4) Letters Testamentary: Document issued to the executor authorizing that person to carry out provisions of will. (5) Executor may be required to post a performance bond. (6) Will may make references to family members in old country, other jurisdictions, or family black sheep and provide reasons for their exclusion. (7) Documents used to support validity of will are also filed in packet.

20 Courthouse Records b. Intestate (Person dies without a valid will) (1) Request for Letters of Administration: (a) Filed by interested person, usually the surviving spouse or next of kin (b) An application that testify to the decedent’s death (c) Requesting for permission to settle estate. (2) Court hearing (a) Healing held to establish proof of the (b) Evidence is produced and documented to rove claims made in the application (c) Court issues the letters of administration and appoints an administrator.

21 Courthouse Records (3) Mandatory that the administrator post a performance bond to guarantee the proper performance of his or her duties. (4) Court appointment administrator conducts an appraisal and inventory of all property, assets, etc. of the decedent. (5) Administrator pays all documented debts. (6) The decree of distribution divides the remaining estate among the decedent’s heirs, according to the laws of inheritance for that jurisdiction.

22 Delayed Birth Records 1. Advent of Social Security (1936) required everyone to produce proof of their birth in the United States or proof of citizenship. 2. Many states sporadically enforced the laws concerning compilation of vital records until after World War I. 3. Those applying for delayed birth certificates had to provide evidence of their age. 4. Delayed birth certificates note what type of evidence the person submitted as proof of their birth, age, and/or citizenship (can provide clues on where to look for other records). 5. Major drawback: state issuing delayed birth certificate may not be the state of birth.

23 City Directories 1. Confirm or locate a specific address for an ancestor. 2. Occupational information. 3. Abbreviations concerning relationships to the owner of the property. 4. Locate family members who lived in the vicinity. 5. Considered one of the best tools for locating newly arrived immigrants. 6. Provide time frame for residence.

24 Funeral Home Records Records 1.Maintain information packets on all decedents. 2.Packets often contain significant family related information. 3.Contain details on final arrangements including place of burial. 4.Usually have copies of the death certificate, death notice and/or obituary. 5.Most will respond to genealogical queries. 6.NOTE: Some will require some form of ID, others may request proof of a connection between researcher and the deceased.

25 Cemetery Records 1. Date plot was purchased. 2. Who purchased it? 3. Names of individuals buried in the plot. 4. Death and burial dates. 5. Relationships of those buried in the plots. 6. Where the plots are located so you can search the gravesite (tombstone inscriptions). 7. Name of funeral home that handled arrangements.

26 Newspapers 1.Birth announcements, death notices and biographical obituaries. 2.Legal notices (probate proceedings, divorces, notices for missing or runaway persons). 3.Local events that may have impacted your family. 4.Covers historical events that may have been missed in county histories. 5.Society columns that covered anniversaries, graduations, and reunions.

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