Friday, January 22, 2010

A window to the past -- local area records

According to an article published recently on, "A window to the past," the Rutherford County Archives "holds the community's history" through its preservation of county government records, enabling people to do everything from legal work to genealogy research. Although focused on one Tennessee county, this story carries a broader message: be sure examine holdings at the local level to see what information is available. Buried treasure relating to your ancestors may be out there just waiting to be discovered, as Rutherford County archivist John Lodi explains.

"The records record history, so when it was times of enslavement, we have those records. When it was times of antebellum plantations, Old South, we have those records. We can document the civil rights movement through our records. So we definitely keep up with the social history of Rutherford County and Murfreesboro. It's very fascinating."

While not everything a locality holds is digitized, a multitude of potentially valuable materials are available -- the task is finding out what records are available and how to access them. Most counties, libraries, and archives have websites . . . and check back often. Also, don't forget local genealogy societies, which make it their business to know the local area and can be very helpful.

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Friday, November 6, 2009

Diamonds in the Rough -- Findings at Local Area Museums

Researchers may want to look beyond the courthouse to the local museum in their quest for family information. An article on, "Clarinda museum tells area's story," illustrates the type of information -- buried treasure, really -- that can be found in local area museums. Clarinda, Iowa, for example, known as the birthplace of big band leader, Glen Miller and the 4-H was also home to a World War II prison camp. The camp held 3,000 prisoners, mostly German soldiers, as well as some Japanese and a few Italian soldiers.These POWs worked within the community and many returned after the war to visit with local families. The museum holds many artifacts, including photographs of the POWs and some of their art work left behind. Additionally, Clarinda wa a stop on the Orphan Train route, with nearly 10,000 children brought to Iowa homes.

For more information and research ideas, see Museums as a family history resource, and Researching Ancestors Through Museum Collections

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Using the "Images of America" Series for Your Family History

The "Images of America" series is a collection of books covering a wide range of topics in American history, including local area histories that may be relevant to your own genealogical research. Gena Philiber-Orgtega, in her article, "Using the 'Images of America' Series for Your Family History," explores the wide range subjects found in these books, their limitations, and how to make them useful.

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GenWeekly -- Delivering a Fresh Perspective for Genealogists