Local genealogy records are the key to finding the answers to your genealogy mysteries, but we sometimes don’t know how to find them or if we have located all that there is to find. Here are ways to find out what treasures await you in the locale you are searching.
Mapping Out Your Research Strategy: Before we begin our search for local genealogy records, it's essential to develop a solid research strategy. Start by defining your objectives and determining the specific locale you wish to explore. Is it a county, a city, or even a small town? Having a clear focus will help you tailor your search and make the most of your efforts.
The Power of Online Research: In this digital age, the world is at our fingertips, and so are valuable genealogical resources. Online databases, such as Ancestry, FamilySearch, and MyHeritage, provide access to an extensive collection of records from all over the world. To know what record sets are available to be searched for any location, start by filtering websites by location. For most, you’ll start with the country, then find the sate, then the county. Each one has a little different process, but most are set up to allow you to “drill down” to specific locations.
For example, at the FamilySearch Catalog [https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog], choose to search by place. In the search bar, enter the location by typing it in this format: Country, State, County. (Example: United States, North Carolina, Rockingham) When a suggestion pops up under the bar with your needed location, click it. That helps the computer at FamilySearch find exactly what you need. Underneath the search bar, toggle the “availability” options to show online records, records only at the FamilySearch center, or any availability. Click "search" to see a listing of all local records available for the area through FamilySearch.
Unveiling the Local Archives: Local genealogy records can be found in various places, such as county courthouses, historical societies, libraries, and even online repositories. Each jurisdiction holds a unique collection of records, waiting to be discovered. Let's explore some avenues to help you uncover these hidden gems.
Exploring Local Libraries and Historical Societies: Libraries and historical societies are treasure troves of local history. Pay a visit to your local library and inquire about their genealogy section. Librarians often possess a wealth of knowledge and can guide you toward specific records or resources tailored to your area of interest. Historical societies are another valuable resource. They frequently house historical documents, local newspapers, maps, and family histories, providing unique insights into your ancestors' lives.
Courthouses and Vital Records: If you're craving firsthand information about your family, courthouses are a goldmine of official records. Birth certificates, marriage licenses, death records, land deeds, and probate files can provide vital clues for your genealogical pursuits. Contact the county clerk or local courthouse to inquire about their holdings and procedures for accessing these records. Sometimes they have a website with that information available, so be sure to check. Also, FamilySearch wiki [https://www.familysearch.org/en/wiki/United_States_Genealogy then select your state and county] is a great resource to finding what is available at the local government offices, too. Remember, some jurisdictions may have restrictions on accessing certain records, so be prepared to follow their guidelines.
Collaborating with Genealogical Societies: Finding a sense of community is essential in any hobby, and genealogy is no exception. Connect with local genealogical societies or historical organizations dedicated to preserving and sharing local history. Attend their meetings, workshops, or seminars to learn from seasoned researchers and tap into their collective knowledge. You may even find fellow enthusiasts who can offer guidance, share resources, or provide fresh perspectives on your research.
Embracing Local Experts: Sometimes, the best way to navigate local genealogy records is by seeking guidance from those who know them best—the local experts. Reach out to local historians, archivists, or genealogists who specialize in your area of interest. They can provide insights into lesser-known resources or guide you toward unique record collections that might not be easily accessible to the general public. Remember, a simple conversation can open doors to a wealth of information.
Now that you're now equipped with a roadmap to uncovering the hidden treasures of local genealogy records, dive into the archives, follow the trails left by your ancestors, and revel in the joy of unearthing your family's rich history.
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