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more records, records everywhere
they're closer than you think!

By Deborah K. Millemaci
(return to genealogy)

Researching your family history can be exciting, especially as you uncover bits and pieces of information that help you form links to the past. But sometimes we aren't sure what resources will help us in discovering those bits of data we need. Well, your attics and basements may hold some clues, and I will attempt to expand upon possibilities that could prove more valuable than you think. Employment records, Legal papers, Membership records, Military records, and Newspapers are the focus of this article.

Employment Records
Information contained on employment records include personal and professional histories. A person's name, address, telephone number, marital status, education, employment history are documented. Personal hobbies, military service, and other miscellaneous information may be included. Social Security and retirement information will also be recorded. Employment histories can provide membership affiliations to professional organizations and awards received.

Legal Papers
This area is broad in spectrum because it covers many items previously mentioned. But this section will focus on deeds, mortgages, tax records, title abstracts, and the like. Information will include present and former residents of a property. It is important to mention here that these records are not inclusive to homes. You will also find that it covers cemetery plots, empty lots, and farmland to name a few examples. This area can be complex to research because of the intricate paperwork that is recorded, and sometimes these papers would be found within different areas of a home and long forgotten (such as between floorboards or walls). Your local tax assessor or county courthouse will also have these records. Historic homes that are in the process of being restored are a good example of of this type of research, as it will provide links to the previous owners and possible descendants who resided there.

Membership Records
Many of our ancestors became members of associations once they emigrated to the U.S. My grandfather was a member of the Columbus Club in Dunkirk, NY and my grandmother was a member of the Maria SS Provvidenza Society in Buffalo (thru St. Anthony of Padua Church). These organizations offered support for new immigrants and helped them assimilate into their new surroundings.

Military Records
Thousands of our family members served in our nation's military services. Military records will include name, branch of service, any known disability, date of discharge, awards or special commendations, and date of separation from service. Draft registration cards list name, address, date of birth, citizanship, employment information, marital status, children, and rank. These records can usually be found in the county or city where the applicant applied. Copies of military records for WWI can be found at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

Many times overlooked, newspapers supply valuable information for the family ancestral researcher. In addition to birth and death announcements, newspapers list upcoming activities of interest to various ethnic groups and present stories that profile the accomplishments of people who strived for improved conditions within their community. Newspapers cover historical events which are clues to the past.

All of these sources will give you hints to your ancestors, and as you uncover more information - the encouragement to dig even deeper into your roots. So start going through those old trunks, boxes, and the like. You may just uncover irreplaceable treasures to your past.

This article is the second part of a three part series.
Read Part One, or Part Three.
©Deborah K. Millemaci - 2002
No part of this article may be reproduced in any form without written permission from the author.


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