Research Tip


Finding Federal Court Records for Free [Mostly!]

“Court records” can mean literally anything of public interest filed with the courts.  But some of the juiciest stuff is to be found in criminal cases and civil lawsuits.  Ron Arons has an excellent book out called Wanted:US Criminal Records–Sources & Research Methodology.  He describes the state and federal repositories for these records.  I’ve used his book several times in …Continue reading →

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Freedman’s Bank Records Open New Doors, Reveal Much

The Freedman’s Bank, a distinct entity from the Freedman’s Bureau, was established by Congress on March 3, 1865.   The bank’s official name was the Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company.  The bank’s purpose was to assist African-Americans recently freed from bondage to adjust and thrive economically. It had branches in 16 states and the District of Columbia, where former slaves, black …Continue reading →

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I Love Ancestry’s Expanded, Updated City Directories

Last week, Ancestry.com updated and repackaged its U.S. Directories and U.S. Public information databases.  These are now all a part of Ancestry’s “1940 Census Substitute.”   Part of the upgrade was acquisition of  what Ancestry VP for Content Gary Gibb called ” a huge collection of city directories.”   I was excited about this from the outset.  I’ve long understood the value …Continue reading →

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Research Tip: Slaves and Slavs in the U.S. Census (and how to tell the difference!)

“No census taken between 1790 and 1860 contains even one slave’s name.” Harriet C. Frazier, Runaway and Freed Missouri Slaves and Those Who Helped Them, 1763-1865, (McFarland & Company: 2004), p. 12. Most genealogists will not find this statement particularly surprising. We all know that, except for a very few free blacks, African-Americans were not enumerated by name in the …Continue reading →

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To Tell the Genealogical Truth

Some Lessons about Census Records Contestant #1: My name is Julia McDavid. I was born in the nineteenth century and had a daughter named Helen. Can you find me in the 1880 or 1900 census? Contestant #2: My name is Julia McDavid. I was born in the nineteenth century and had a daughter named Helen. Can you find me in …Continue reading →

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Important Genealogical Tip: Try, Try Again!

An important tip in genealogical research is to re-plow ground you’ve already been over before. And if that’s not productive, do it again! Why? Because it works. Miriam at Ancestories had a Christmas Day surprise when she finally found some elusive in-laws for whom she had searched for years. In an idle moment, she tried again on-line and there they …Continue reading →

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