Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Let Me Count The Sources

A while back, James Tanner blogged about how to tell if someone had progressed beyond being a beginning genealogist (Getting Past the Introductory Stage in Genealogy).  One of his indicators was if a person had begun to use more than just census and vital records. Naturally, this made me curious to roughly quantify the different sorts of documents I have used since I began my genealogical quest around 2001.

There are still record types I haven't used very often (or at all) either because there are lower hanging fruit, they are more difficult to use (no index, for example), I don't have ready access to them or I just haven't had the time to delve into them. Just for fun, I decided to come up with a list of all of the different records I have used.

Place Records
Census: Federal population, agricultural, industrial; State population,
City Directories
Land Records: deeds (just starting to scratch the surface of these)
Plat Maps
Tax records (just a couple so far)

Life Event Records
Cemetery Records
Coroner's Inquest Records
Family Bibles
Grave Stones
Vital Records (SSDI, state and local)

Legal Records
Chancery Records (Non-Divorce)
Civil Suits (sometimes called Law cases from what I understand)
Criminal Court Records
Divorce Records
Incarceration Records (so far only Michigan Reformatory)
Probate Records (just starting to scratch the surface of these)

Military Records
Military Draft Registration Records (Civil War, WWI, WWII)
Military Enlistment Records
Military Pension Application Files (gold mines of information, see what you might find in Why Everyone  Should Use Military Pension Files)
Military Regimental Returns
Old Soldier Home Records
Pension Payment Cards

County Histories
Interviews with family
Naturalization Records (just a few so far)
Newspapers (current and historical, another gold mine)
Old letters, journals, etc.
Old photographs
Published family histories
Ross Coller File (a Kalamazoo and later Battle Creek newspaperman who left behind a card file with basic information on people decades before he began his career. Learn more about Ross Coller records)
Ships' Passenger Lists

I'm sure there are a few more obscure documents from which I've extracted some morsel of information, but that's all I can think of right now. While many of the record types are useful for placing a person in space and time, I have to say that my favorites are the ones that add flesh to bone, so to speak, like newspapers, pension and divorce records.

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