Much like the surge of excitement I felt before starting 3rd grade with Mrs. Lonborg, I felt fist-pumping gratitude as I discovered a new FREE digital researching tool today.
One of my best practices is to research the history of an area as I research the people. Knowing more about where people lived can provide greater context for why they lived in a particular area. Learning about the history of the country and general migratory patterns of the citizens is useful as well. (My Netflix digital list is filled with History channel specials and documentaries I watch with my boys. PS If you haven’t seen The Men Who Built America, add it to your list. Even my 4-year-old was riveted to the screen.)
I start with a search engine to look up the history of a place. Often, a city will have Chamber of Commerce with links to city history , historical preservation societies, or museums. (These are the people who are as excited to hear about your great, great-grandfather and the impact they had on the community as you or I am.)
Today, I researched Braidwood, Illinois. Michor Edward Page lived there in 1880, and I wasn’t sure why. The historical society led me to a link for the library.
The Coal City Public Library has taken time to provide digital indexes of coal mining reports, cemetery records, obituaries, and quarterlies for the genealogical society records. It’s all easily searchable by last name. Just select the local history/ genealogy tab and which index you want to search.
If you find information on a person you are researching, you can complete an online form or call the library directly to request digital or paper copies of the record. In addition, they have 25 pages worth of genealogical research books available in the library. The topics encompass everything from Orphan trains to church records. Take some time to review the list. It may give you ideas about where to focus your research efforts, or a book you need to add to your library. (June’s not too early to start my Christmas list, right?)
Even if your ancestors didn’t live in Braidwood, Illinois, it’s worth searching the index.
If your ancestors migrated west, they may have lived nearby in Ohio, Illinois or Iowa before settling the Western territory or Oklahoma Territory, You may find a clue to help you with your research, a distant cousin, or topics that you want to explore next. Comment and let me know, how can I help you with your research?