Tuesday, January 25, 2011

January 2011 Research Presentation

{Editor: This presentation at the January NSGS meeting was designed to demonstrate the variety of locations where City, County, and State records can be located. We used Nevada as a primary example, but nearly every city, county, and state is represented on the Internet, and search methods similar to those shown below apply to all cities, counties, and states. The information you locate on the Internet is a good starting point. However, detailed studies usually require that an original source be located. Copies of original documents are available from some online programs. However, ordering by mail, copying from microforms, and visiting libraries continues to be a major part of genealogy research. Reading and study is still how you ferret out most family history. An outline of this presentation is available on the NSGS Blog, including the active URLs (web sites).}

Researching for Genealogical Information in the Records of Cities, Counties, and States in the United States of America.
Prepared and Presented by Jim Kattelman, NSGS Newsletter Editor, January 2011.
Primary Focus of this Presentation: Location and Availability of City, County, and State Records.

No need to take notes during the presentation, just log on to the NSGS Blog and “click and go” through the various subjects presented here. This outline and the accompanying URLs (Web addresses) will be posted on the NSGS Blog & summarized in the NSGS Newsletter.      http://NevadaRoots.blogspot.com
Record Sources:
Federal - Military, Major Land Acquisitions & Distributions, Migration and Citizenship, Census, Financial (including taxation), and (some) Judicial & Health.
Location and Availability: Most federal records have been preserved and reproduced on some medium which can be fairly easily accessed. For the most part, federal records have been freely circulated. One reason for this may be that cities, counties, and states (and private citizens) rely on federal information for planning purposes and many of their decisions. Access sources: National Archive Offices; BLM online land records; WPA Indexes; computer programs such as Ancestry.com, Footnote, etc.; FamilySearch.org; and local repositories such as university libraries and state archive centers. There is a lot of federal information recorded on “transportable medium (microform, digital ,etc.).” If you study the distribution practices, you should be able to bring copies of original documents to a research center near you.

Federal records are excellent for proving the location of an individual or family at a given time. Except for some census periods, little personal information is provided.
Cities, Counties, and States - Jurisdiction for various activities, things, and eras is considerably different amongst the states. For example: Deaths for the 1800s may be recorded in cities or counties, whereas by the 1900s Death Certificates may only be controlled by states. In some states, cities may be independent of counties and hold records usually associated with counties. In addition, cities, counties, and states seem to be somewhat protective of records within their jurisdiction. “Keeper of the Records” may mean that you are going to have a hassle getting to the records (attitude - attitude - attitude). In many cases, regional records have been duplicated  on a “transportable medium”, but never circulated. Finding a neutral repository of regional information can be advantageous. However, duplication or release of regional information is much more limited than federal information.
Regional Records: Just about every kind of human activities and the possessions that humans acquire have been recorded at one time or another. Birth, Marriage (Divorce), and Death are the most common regional records. Directories, newspaper collections, property transactions (including taxes), judicial records (including some migration), voter information, public service (including militia), special census, and map collections comprise another popular group.        Finally, school, health, social organizations, and business activities are certainly valuable for family stories.

Much of the recorded regional information is of a personal nature and adds dimension to family history. Locating and copying this information, however, can be a trying experience. In my ten years of genealogy research, I have developed one fundamental axiom: “What I am looking for is probably out there, and eventually I will probably find it.” What was destroyed in the proverbial “courthouse fire” was probably duplicated in one form or another, and resides where you least expect to find it.

Location and Availability of Regional Records: The above mentioned information can be found in a “terrible mix” of city, county, and state records. And, this “terrible mix” will vary from one locale to another. Look first for indexes of records. FamilySearch.org probably has the most comprehensive regional indexes through its Family History Library > Catalog > Place Search. This index at least tells you what has been duplicated and is distributed. Every city, county, and state will also have some directory of services, but frequently you must contact them to determine the accessibility of records. In many cases, regional historical or genealogical societies will provide record indexes.
Family Histories & Church Records - Subjects for another presentation. These are the most personal of all recorded genealogical information.  Church records in the U.S. follow the practices used in the “old country.” For the most part, church records in the U.S. were not as detailed as those in Europe. Regional historical societies usually have some family histories available, but these are primarily in book form. FamilySearch.org, through the Family History Libraries > Catalog > Subject, has distributed these on microform for years, but you can never tell exactly what you are getting. Online indexes and digitized copies are now appearing on the Internet. Ancestry.com and similar organizations are now encouraging subscribers to post family histories on their programs. The more researchers post family history on the Internet, the more informative and interesting genealogy will be for all of us.

And Now for the Fun Stuff !     Online City, County, and State Record Resources and Sources.

Be creative ! The information you need is out there somewhere. The samples below will give you an idea of the types of web sites you should be looking for. If necessary, start with simple Google searches for official records.

Since we are NEVADA State Genealogical Society, we will start our search with Nevada records. Unfortunately, Nevada has a slim supply of online records. However, there are some very good document collections regarding the early years in Nevada, but in most cases, even if the collection is microfilmed, you must go to a repository. In Nevada, we need to loosen our attitude toward the concept of sharing information !

State Records - Featuring Nevada  (every state has some online resources - some more than others !). More and more, the office of Secretary of State is a good place to start your search for regional records.

Outstanding Resourcehttps://www.familysearch.org  Trail: Library > Catalog > Place Search - Nevada.  Trail: Library > Catalog > Author > Nona Parkin  - Western Nevada Counties.

Good Resource - www.nevadaculture.org  Trail: Discover Nevada History > Nevada Census Database  > Finding People > Carson City Recorder - Genealogy  - Historic Maps > Sanborn Maps.  Trail: State Library and Archives > Microfilm at Carson City.

Trail: County Records Microfilm Project  “Dangberg Collection.” This collection of records from the 1860s to about 1920 is one of the best kept secrets of Nevada genealogy. It contains court, property, tax, & special census records and is on microfilm. Unfortunately, it is not distributed. Available at the Nevada Historical Society, Reno and several other State Libraries in Nevada.     Commissioned by Grace Dangberg.

Fair Resource - usually somewhat dated - http://www.nvgenweb.org  Various databases and Internet links (most states counties, and cities).
Interesting Resource - Example of Privately Created Web site: Alabama < http://www.alabamapioneers.com/.
Good Resource - Example of State Sponsored Digital Library: Kentuckiana   < http://kdl.kyvl.org/ .
Great Resource - Example of State Controlled Web site: Missouri   http://www.sos.mo.gov/ .
Fun to Use Resource - Example of For Profit Web site: FamilyHistory101.com  (as with most for profit Web sites, free & fee-based information is included)  < http://www.familyhistory101.com/maps >  Trail: > Boundary County Maps.
Fair Resource - mountains of information, thousands of pictures - Examples of Federal Web sites: States & Migration  http://www.americaslibrary.gov/es/index.php     http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/ .
Very Limited Online Resources - Good information when you visit their offices - Counties - Washoe County Clerk & Recorder  http://www.co.washoe.nv.us/clerks . Marriage and Divorce (limited online) <  http://www.co.washoe.nv.us/recorder > Property Transactions (limited online).     Mining Claims - Outstanding Collection (not online).
Great Resource - All counties have some free representation: < https://www.familysearch.org/ >. Trail: Library > Catalog > Place Search.   All cities have some free representation. Use FamilySearch.org trail.
Interesting Resources - Free (some) and Fee-based County Records: < http://publicrecords.onlinesearches.com/NV >.

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