Digging Up Your Ancestors Part Two
By B. Foof

Okay, so we are not literally digging up your ancestors, but you have to admit it got your attention. However, the reason for the name change has more to do with... well, I wanted to. With that said we could move on to your next set of research options.

Family History Centers:
I personally have not had any experience with Family History Centers (FHC) and the people I have talked to have mixed opinions on using this source. I do know that FHC have limited hours of operation because they are usually staffed by volunteers, so call ahead of time to make sure they are going to be open. Keep in mind that whatever they do have at your local FHC is just going to be indexes. This means once you think you have found your ancestor you pay a fee and they send the microfilm with the record on it from Utah to the FHC of your choice. Once it gets there, you have a couple of days to look at it before it has to be sent back. It doesn’t sound too bad unless you go through that entire trouble just find out that it wasn’t your ancestor. They do have tons of information, a lot of which is from outside the United States. So if you have the patience (this is where I have a slight problem) it is worth a look.

National Archives:
National Archives is another place where you are going to need lots of patience. They do have some great information though and the staffs, many of which are volunteers, are usually very helpful. The problem here is the amount of information: it takes awhile to find what you are looking for. As a side note, while looking for my grandmother’s name on immigrant passenger lists I was told that there were lots of people that were never put on the lists for various reasons. Some immigrants did not speak the same language as the crew, some were under eighteen and traveling alone (like my grandmother) and some were sick and were scared that they would be sent home.

County Probate Offices:
Deeds, wills and divorce decrees are all considered public knowledge and can be found in your County Probate Office. They all have private information on the families involved. As tacky as it sounds this is a good source for finding out who is related to who and how. It can also give you an idea of how the families got along, if there was someone left out of a will it may even say why.

Local History Sections of The Library:

If you want to find out about ancestors, yours or anyone else’s, local libraries are a good source. However, as a genealogical resource it is not going get you tons of information unless your family was very prominent within the town. The real value of your local libraries during research is their old newspapers. Most libraries have these on microfilm either with or without indexes. While other sources will get you more names and dates, reading through the newspaper will give you more of a sense of who these people were. What was written in the paper was usually a reflection of the type of people in the community (farmers, merchants, etc.). The papers back before the 1940’s or so were also more willing to print detailed accounts of things. This is especially true about obituaries: if someone was killed in an accident, you can be sure that the paper will tell you exactly how he or she died. They also would mention the names and addresses of every relative the person had, anyone that may have predeceased them and sometimes where they were going to be buried, so it is worth reading through any gruesome information.

Next time I will go over the different Historical Societies, Magazines and Websites that are out there and I promise it will not take me so long to write it.