Monday, September 26, 2011

Have Indiana Ancestors?

I'm taking some time here to make a plea for submissions to the Indiana Genealogical Society's "Always a Hoosier" and "Once a Hoosier" projects. These two projects highlight individuals who either spent some part of their lives living in Indiana, or those who are buried in the Hoosier state. To make a submission, just go to the IGS website and go to the projects page here then click on either "Always a Hoosier" or "Once a Hoosier" depending upon the circumstances of your subject's life. Then download the appropriate submission form and send it off.

For more info on the "Once a Hoosier" project check here

For more info on the "Always a Hoosier" project check here

[Just as a disclaimer, I'm the editor for the "Always a Hoosier" project. We could really use your submissions so if you have an ancestor buried in Indiana, we'd love to hear from you!]

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The fine print wins again

I was recently reminded of a very important tip: always read the fine print.

For those of you familiar with Illinois genealogy, you'll know the website for the Secretary of State's office, which includes a few online vital records databases (found here). One of these databases is the the Illinois Statewide Marriage Index, covering 1763-1900. Obviously, not all counties are covered for the whole of the time frame in the title. For one thing, not all of the counties were in existence at the same time. So the title is a little elastic on that front. But when I was wondering where a couple might have gotten married, sometime during the 19-teens, I thought I knew that this database wasn't going to be any help. Yeah, I broke that oh so important rule of not reading the fine print and not remembering that the titles don't always tell the whole story. Here's the page that I forgot to revisit while brainstorming on my latest marriage query:

What it is, is a county and time range table listing the availability of the county marriage records which are included in the online database. As you can see, some counties are not included at all, while others only include a portion of time within the titles' date range. The county in which I ended up finding the marriage record I was looking for, was Richland Co. Richland happens to have a date range between 1840 and 1915, well after the 1900 limit established by the title. And Richland county isn't the only one with records included in the online database well beyond 1900. The marriage records for Brown, Fulton, Jersey, Menard, Morgan, Pike, Pope, Stephenson, and Wayne counties all stretch into the 1920s within this database.

And you wouldn't know it unless you read the fine print...

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Score!! - Finding Newspaper Bibliographies

One of the coolest things about the genealogical research process, is that success depends upon your usage of a variety of materials - pretty much, everything that is available to you should be consulted. Books that perhaps you never would have laid eyes on before become almost as important as air. Without checking out your sources, including books, you won't break through those brick walls.

One of the most helpful books I've used in the past is John Miller's 1982 work, Indiana Newspaper Bibliography. Like newspaper bibliography books you've probably seen for other states, it is a collection of listings of all known newspapers that were running within the state. It is broken down by county and then by township, and not only gives the names of the papers that ran in each county, but also the dates for each paper, a great tool since some of them didn't last very long, and who opened the press. Not only is something like this extremely useful for finding out when and where there might have been a paper running that could have information pertaining to your subject, but if you have a newspaper man in the family (like I do), these things can become like a second census for you because you can track his movements around the state. It can explain things like why his children were all born in different towns that seemingly have no familial affiliations. So these things are definitely worth having on your bookshelf.

This book has been out of print for quite some time so I've had it on every online wish list I could find (abebooks, amazon, and ebay). I've had no responses to any copies coming up for sale, I contacted the publisher and they didn't have any copies to sell and no plans to put it back in print. If I had found contact information for the author I would have gotten in touch about it. In the meantime, I was constantly ordering the book through Interlibrary Loan and it was getting old. Finally, about 2 weeks ago, I got a hit from abebooks that one had come up for sale from an Indiana bookseller and I jumped on it. It arrived last week and it's mine, all mine!! Finally, I have my very own copy and I couldn't be happier.

I know that Ohio has a similar book for newspapers in its state, by Steve Gutgesell, which you can find on amazon and I've seen others elsewhere too. You can troll around on amazon to check for your own state, or perhaps a better way to do it would be to go on to the Library of Congress website and check their catalog here . Try using search terms like the state's name and "newspapers", or if you're looking for papers within a particular county you can try searching for the county name. I know Kentucky has several localized newspaper bibliographies so for that state, the county search might work best. But try it several different ways and see what comes up. You may find your own piece of genealogical gold within the covers of a book.