Good morning everyone,
I was wondering if anyone had suggestions, websites, processes, methods, or the like for finding descendants of people, especially from the early to mid 1900s? I haven't used Ancestry.com yet - I'm trying to get an institutional account.
I am trying to track down descendants of a range of people, descendants of historical figures and sometimes descendants of donors who have since passed away. For example, I have some names for people who worked in the College Park, MD Air Mail Station and the DC Air Mail Office, but I haven't had luck tracking down descendants. I would like to connect for the purposes of exploring overlooked stories. Sometimes I find obituaries online and look for next of kin that way. There are other times I am looking for descendants of donors that previous staff did not stay in touch with and whose contact information is no longer in use. Prior staff did not always record proper provenance or context and I hope to fill in those gaps.
Any help or pointing my in any useful direction would be very appreciated.
As someone who researches a lot of local history, a couple of suggestions.Ancestry.com is good, but can be cost prohibitive. (Some local libraries and historical societies offer it at their locations.) Family Search is the free version and can be very helpful as you can both search for both family trees and individuals. Newspapers.com can be almost as useful as it contains obituaries, which can be invaluable in identifying spouses, parents and descendants. (Some Ancestry subscriptions can include discounts for Newspapers.com.)
I also found through Google that the Maryland State Archives have an online database of newspapers that appear to be free to use.
Best of luck,
At the risk of telling things you already know...
Various genealogy resources might be helpful. Ancestry.com you already know. The Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints maintains extensive genealogical records (I'm not sure what access might entail, though).
Going back to the early 1900s, there are many records being made available on line as time periods of confidentiality are coming to an end and various archives, etc. digitize their holdings. More and more census records, etc. are becoming available.
Local historical societies often have birth/death/marriage records in their archives or they know who to talk to. You might contact their respective memberships. And look into their publications, too. Something like the local postal service has likely caught someone's attention and they may have the research you're looking for, even if not published (yet).
Never underestimate your reference librarians, either. The librarians in my local public libraries have been amazing!!
Jennifer Bullock (she/her)
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101 Queen Street North, Kitchener ON N2H 6P7
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Jennifer, thank you for these suggestions!
Mary, thank you for this suggestion!
Aside from the ones already mentioned, findagrave.com can often be useful. Cross-referencing name/DOB/DOD dates, plus spouses can help identify folks. Additionally people frequently attach obits or photos to findagrave entries.
Oh and of course the USGenWeb site for your state or county may be helpful. It can be really hit or miss quality wise, but sometimes you get troves of stuff painstakingly transcribed years ago that might just be what your looking for.
Drew, Vivian, Marian, Jennifer, and Deborah thank you for the suggestions! I appreciate all the help.
Sometimes on Find-a-grave you will find an obituary that lists family members that are still alive. I have called people on that list and found descendants who were happy to know that their family things were in a museum.
The tools our museum pays subscriptions for are Ancestry.com and Newspapers.com because we use them very frequently. However Newspapers.com is pretty limited and doesn't do small local papers so you may have to find the local or state repository for the smaller papers. Obituaries are the way we track down relatives, so maybe you aren't getting a good sweep of newspapers to find the obituaries. Ancestry is really not as good for tracking down recent people because of privacy issues, so finding all the newspaper databases for obituaries are your best bet. I also concur that Find-a-grave is another good resource, but again, only as good as the people who diligently went around and photographed everything. You are on the right track. You may have to just practice until you get good at combining the right information together when do searches. Remember that spellings can be terribly off. My own grandfather's first name is never spelled the same way twice. It is a very common name for the time, but it had different ways to spell it. You can presume that the gravestone is the correct spelling, but think about the different ways someone's name could be spelled, misspelled or transcribed incorrectly. The Ancestry program that tries to transcribe census records gets it wrong a long because so many different people with different handwritings. But also many of them wrote down nicknames or spelled the names how they thought they sounded. This is very key in genealogical research: search on as many ways as you think the spelling could appear. Good luck.
Good morning, all
In addition to the sources already mentioned, I would add www.newspaperarchive.com. While there is a great deal of overlap between Newspaperarchive and newspapers.com (owned by Ancestry), we have found that we often do get different results from each, so we'll use both. Census records are now available through 1950. An often over looked source are U.S. military draft cards that recorded next of kin. Best of luck with you search.
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