Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Minnesota Birth Index

The certificates themselves are not online, but the index from 1900 through 1934 is searchable and users can "play" with a variety of search terms, including last name and mother's maiden name.

I probably won't order the records, but I was able to find entries for several cousins using this database at Combining last name at birth with mother's maiden name I found particularly effective.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Where to Make Google Alerts

The place to get started creating Google alerts is here: 

It is best to create a Google account to do this, if you do not already have one. It might be good to brush up on a few advanced google search techniques:

Monday, June 27, 2011

How Often Do You Google?

Put a google search on your list for every "stuck" person you have. There will be some for whom you do not find anything ,but there will be others for whom you make significant finds.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Search DAR Database for more than Patriots

Not only does the NSDAR Database allow you to search for patriots, you can also search for other ancestors of members. This search was conducted to search for Archibald Kile, born in Ohio in 1812. The results located him and his wife, one of his children and his father who supposedly was a patriot. All of this will have to be validated, but it was a good clue.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Was The Data Entry "Standardized?"

When some companies index various records, they "standardize" parts of the entry, instead of transcribing it exactly as it appears.

Hence, the abbreviation "Ca" for a place of birth might become "California." The problem is that it could also stand for Canada.

Have you thought about this when searching?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Searching for Birth Place of Parents in 1880 At

Do you know how to search for people living in a certain place who were born in a certain place with a parent born in another place in the 1880 census?

The search interface at for the 1880 allows this (at least in a roundabout way). You can set a search to be for people born in an exact place, living in an exact location and then use the "key word" search feature to search for the place of birth for the mother or father.

I still liked the way this was done on the 1880 CDs the LDS church put out years ago, but I guess this is better than nothing.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

How Do They Treat Middle Initials?

Find out how databases treat middle names and initials. Not every database incorporates this piece of information in the same fashion.

Read the site's FAQ or experiment.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Image Suggestions at Google

Some last names do not lend themselves to quick google searches. Here are some modifications to consider when searching for images at

  • john lake cemetery
  • john lake tombstone
  • john lake chariton cemetery
  • thomas frame chicago cemetery
  • thomas frame tombstone chicago

Feel free to post additional suggestions to this entry. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Need Michigan Township Names and Numbers

This PDF map from Michigan Department of Natural Resources has Michigan names and the township and range numbers. Wonderful resource, particularly if you are using the Bureau of Land Management website.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Google Image Search for Ancestral Names

Have you performed just an image search at google for your ancestor? For names that are unusual, just use the name. For other names, try adding a county name, town name, etc. and see what results you obtain. You may find more images than you think.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Read That List of Contents

Have you read the list of sources for a database if it is available? The Illinois State Archives pre-1916 death certificate index includes a list of counties and time periods currently included at Always determine if such a bibliography is available.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Names With Apostrophes?

Databases do not always handle names with apostrophes in the same way. O'Neill may be entered in a database as ONeill or O'Neill. Make certain you search both ways or find out how these names are handled.

Friday, June 17, 2011


If you haven't tried Linkpendium's search box, give it a whirl. Like most, it finds uncommon names most easily, but other searches may bring forth results as well.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


I generally always use the advanced search form for searching the Social Security Death Index, either at Rootsweb or one of a variety of free online sites.

I don't often search for last benefit city or residence, unless I am absolutely certain of it. And even then, I usually only put in the county or state and see if I get the desired results.

The SSDI is on a variety of sites for free--don't pay for it.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

When Was the Last Time You Tried Rootsweb?

How long has it been since you tried a search for your ancestor(s) at Rootsweb? If it has been a while, you might want to give it a go here

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Try Unusual Names in Twitter

Some genealogists love twitter--some hate it. Consider searching at for some of your more unsual names. I found a few Trautvetter, Ufkes, and Rampley relatives using it.

Smith and Brown, not so much.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Check Multiple Indexes

On FamilySearch, always determine if there are separate indexes to the same or similar records. For example, there are two finding aids for Indiana marriages:

There are other states with similar situations on FamilySearch.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Card File Index to New York Passenger Lists 1820-1846

Family Search put this National Archives card file index on their site recently. Perhaps the card index will index a name differently from,, etc. Give it a try.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Wolfram Alpha Makes Quick Cousin Charts

Want to quickly see how third cousins twice removed are related? Type that phrase "third cousins twice removed" into the search box at

The site will do lots of math stuff too (grin), but the relationship chart is neat as well.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Old State Statute Books on WorldCat

You won't find actual images (usually) but if searches elsewhere have not located old copies of state statute books, try searching on Worldcat http:// These are best located using an advanced search and setting publication years to before 1900.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Ignore the Umlaut?

When searching an English-language site or database, you generally can just drop the dots.

Hüls can be searched for by using Huls.

You may be able to impress your friends by making the umlaut appear on your keyboard, but it is usually not necessary to use it as a search term.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Viewing Civil War Pension Index Free at Footnote

A paid account at is not required to view the Civil War and Later Pension Index at An account is required to view the image of the card.

However, using the index, even without an account, will tell you the unit and name of the man/woman who received a pension. That's enough to order the pension from the National Archives.

If you've never played with the index before, give it a try. If you're not certain you are navigating correctly, experiment with Company D of the 78th Illinois Volunteer Infantry. (click on Illinois, then infantry, then regiment 78, then company D, waiting every time and then waiting for the names to load).

You should see:

  • Riley Rampley
  • John Rampley, his brother
  • Eli Short (who testified in Riley's pension)
  • Milford Maulove (actually Wilford Manlove, who testified in Riley's pension). 
If you have difficulty, post a response here. To see the cards, you need a membership. To see the index you don't. At least when this post was written (grin!).

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

How Complete is that Database?

Some databases and sets of data are released in stages. Are they still "in process" when you search them? That could explain why the desired person could not be found.

Read the FAQ, "More about this Databases," etc.--that's where you may find information about just how "in process" the database is.

End of Casefile Clues Beginners $7.50 Rate

Effective 8 June 2011, we'll be ending the $7.50 6 month rate for Casefile Clues Beginners. To facilitate bookkeeping, we'll be accepting year-long subscriptions for $17.00.

If you'd like to try Casefile Clues Beginners, subscribe before the change goes into effect.


Monday, June 6, 2011

Query Your Database-Not Your Head

When you learn about a new database or resource, how do you decide for whom to search in that database? Do you pick names out of your head?

It might be a better plan to perform a search of your genealogy database for individuals who meet criteria indicating they may be in the database. When released the Civil War Draft Registrations, searching for men in your database born between the high end and the low end of the registration ages would have been a good idea.

Join Michael at the Allen County Public Library in Ft Wayne

There is still time and room to join me on my annual research trip to the Allen County Public Library in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. We have a great time and work on problem-solving and research while the library is open.

For more information visit our original blog post at

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Browse those Subject Headings

Don't forget when you find a useful book in an online library card catalog, browse for other books that have the same subject headings. Usually these are clickable links.

Interesting materials that you never thought to look for can sometimes be found this way.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Looking for a Living Relative Who Is a Notary?

Are you looking for a living relative who is a notary public? Illinois, Rhode Island, and Texas have online listings through their Secretary of State websites:
I found these by performing a google search for "mystate public notary search" (without the quotes). Make certain you are on an official government site (typically the Secretary of State's office) and not a fee-based site. Readers who find others are welcome to post them as followups to this blog post.

Some states provide addresses--some don't.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Searching The Family History Library Card Catalog

I like the related places feature of the "old" Family History Library Card Catalog. That is the feature of the old catalog that allows me to see what a place is a part of and what places it contains. The new catalog does not do that--at least not yet.

Here's a link to the "related places" page for Knox County, Illinois.

Try it for your own locations. One should always be looking for possible records cataloged in regions larger or smaller than the one you thought to search for in the catalog.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

US Newspaper Directory

Have you searched the US Newspaper Directory at the Library of Congress (

Users can also see a list of newspapers digitized through this project here:

Keep in mind that other websites (fee and free) may also have digitized newspapers not mentioned here.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Notifications Enabled for Members?

If you are an member, do you have notifications enabled for images or documents you've put in your shoebox or connected to one of your ancestors or family members?

I only link or store documents on those people who I'm "stuck" on--otherwise there would be too many. then sends me a notification when someone else links to the document.

A nice way to connect with others researching the same line.