Using the Resources
Using the Resources > Getting Started
As an example of how some of the resources in the genealogy collection can be used, let's follow our sample genealogist, Martin, as he visits the Library.
Martin comes to the Library eager to explore what the Library has to offer a beginning genealogist. After a preliminary talk with staff, he is given a 5-generation chart and is shown several books he can check out that will explain what the beginning genealogist needs to know about sources and methods of genealogical research. Martin returns home and begins to fill in the chart beginning with himself and then his parents. He calls older relatives and asks questions about the family and he reads Genealogy 101, the "how-to" book he checked out.
Once Martin has some additional information he returns to the Library with his chart and is ready to begin. He has learned from family members that his grandfather, Nicholas, emigrated from Ireland to Connecticut with a sister named Mary when he was about 20 years old and she was 18. Since Martin's father was born in Connecticut in 1908 he decides to begin his search with the 1910 census of Connecticut.
Using the Resources > Using Ancestry.com
He expects to find his father, George, listed as a 2 year old living with his parents and siblings. At a library computer, staff show Martin how to use Ancestry, as it is a quick and easy way to search the census, and Martin locates the family in Middlesex County, Cromwell Township. It is hard to make out the year of immigration for Nicholas, but it appears to be either 1887 or 1897 (1887 being the most likely based on the age of the older children also born in Connecticut, and the number of years the parents have been married). But to verify this, a check of the 1900 census in Ancestry locates the family and the year of immigration for Nicholas is clearly, 1887.
Now Martin can use the immigration search feature in Ancestry to look for Nicholas. However, Ancestry does not list a Nicholas or a Mary arriving in New York in 1887. Discouraged, but hopeful, Martin knows from his preliminary reading that handwriting in these old documents can be hard to read and mistakes can render the indexing incomplete. He concludes the next step must be the detailed work of searching all the months in 1887 in Ancestry for ships arriving at the port of New York and he knows this can take a long time.
Using the Resources > Using Ancestry.com > Page 2
Using common sense, Martin begins with the spring and summer months, when many immigrants chose to sail the north Atlantic. He begins with the month of April and eventually he found a Nich and Mary Ronan on the City of Montreal, on April 19th, 1887 when it arrived in the port of New York. He notes that the clerk used an abbreviation for Nicholas, Nich, and listed Mary as his wife, probably because the family felt it was safer for her in steerage to appear to be a married woman. Their ages match stories told to Martin when he started his search. The use of a nickname plus the handwriting of the last name in the ship passenger list explains why the indexes contained no Nicholas Ronan. However, Martin persisted and found the record he was looking for.
Martin notes as he searches the available census records on Ancestry for Nicholas, 1900-1940, that in 1900 and 1910 under the column that inquires about naturalization, that Nicholas is listed as AL, or alien. In 1920, he is listed as PA, meaning he has filed his papers, and then in 1930 he is listed as NA, a naturalized citizen.
Locating Vital Records
Using the Resources > Locating Vital Records
Martin then consults several books on immigration and naturalization records to learn more about the naturalization process and help him to locate Nicholas' application papers that will list additional facts about him:
- Locating Your Immigrant Ancestor: A Guide to Naturalization Records
- Guide to Naturalization Records of the United States
- American Naturalization Processes and Procedures, 1790-1985
- They Became Americans: Finding Naturalization Records and Ethnic Origins
Using the Resources > Locating Vital Records > Page 2
Martin has learned from family sources that Nicholas died in 1942 so he checks the SSDI (Social Security Death Index) in Ancestry but finds no record of Nicholas. He then consults The International Vital Records Handbook, a resource that will give him contact information as well as the fee for a death record search in Connecticut. The death record should give the place of burial and perhaps list Nicholas' parent's names and his birthplace in Ireland.
In case the American death record does not contain all the information Martin seeks, he wants to know how to obtain birth and baptismal records from Ireland. He checks out two books, Tracing Your Irish Ancestors and A Genealogist's Guide to Discovering Your Immigrant & Ethnic Ancestors. These should answer all his questions about taking his research overseas.
Using the Resources > Locating Vital Records > Page 3
Now that Martin has a start on his father's side of the family he turns his attention to his mother's line. She gives him the names and facts about her parents, George and Florence Ryon, his maternal grandparents. He locates George, as a one year old on the 1880 census of New London County Connecticut in the town of Old Lyme. George's parents are listed as Wm H. 38, and Adelaide, 22. Since that would place William's birth around 1842, he would be of prime age to have participated in the American Civil War from 1860-1865. A further search on Ancestry in the Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934 for the name William Ryon, reveals one. Martin clicks on the entry and finds that this William had a widow, Adelaide, who filed for a pension and those records are available to Martin.
Using Military Records
Using the Resources > Using Military Records
Staff at the Library tell Martin that the records can be obtained from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and direct him to the library computer where he uses the genealogy section of NetLinks. This is a list of commonly used links recommended by library staff for genealogists. In this list he finds the website for NARA. Once he is on their website he discovers he can either order the Compiled Military Service Records for William online or use a form he can download and send in by mail. Before he leaves the Library he checks out some circulating books on the Civil War and consults other reference sources: Civil War Genealogy and The Union: A Guide to Federal Archives Relating to the Civil War.
Once Martin receives the records form the National Archives he learns his ancestor fought with the 1st Connecticut Heavy Artillery and he is interested in locating additional information about the unit so he knows in which battles William participated. He can use another of the Library's online databases, HeritageQuest Online, from home, to find this information.
Using the Resources > Using Military Records > Page 2
He searches the book section of HeritageQuest Online using just 'Connecticut' in the Place Name field and 'heavy artillery' in the Keywords field and one of the titles in the results catches his eye: Catalogue of Connecticut Volunteer Organizations, (Infantry, Cavalry, and Artillery,) in the Service of the United States, 1861 - 1865: with Additional Enlistments, Casualties, & C., & C., and Brief Summaries, Showing the Operations and Service of the Several Regiments and Batteries, Hartford: Brown & Gross, 1869, 933 pgs.
Martin can read about the unit and the campaigns they were in as well as see William listed on page 151, in company D of the 1st Connecticut Heavy Artillery. To further his research of the Ryon side, Martin can use census records in Ancestry to track his grandparents, George and Florence and his great grandparents William and Adelaide through all the Connecticut census records. Since George was only a year old in 1880, the next census he appears in is the 1900 as the 1890 burned. In 1900 he is a young married man with his wife, Florence, living in Middlesex County, in the town of Saybrook, with his father-in-law, Richard Daniels. This automatically provides Martin with his great grandmother's maiden name and opens further research to him.
Using Vertical Files, City Directories and Other Resources
Using the Resources > Other Resources
On subsequent trips to the Library, Martin consults the vertical files to see if there is any information on any of the family lines he is researching. He browses the book collection looking for published family histories on any of the surnames in his family. He also explores the books on Connecticut and Ireland to see what secondary sources the Library has on cemetery transcriptions, land transactions, or newspaper abstracts that will help him in his research.
Martin checks the city directories on microfiche for the towns his ancestors lived in to follow them through the years to discover exactly where they lived. He plans a visit to the area to take pictures of the houses they lived in and the churches they attended as well as their tombstones.
Using the Resources > Other Resources > Page 2
Martin is discovering that genealogy is an ongoing study, and the Library offers a myriad of sources that can help him not only with the search, but with organizing his documents, photographs, and research notes so that he can eventually publish the data and preserve it for others to use in the future. Martin checks out, Organizing Your Family History Search: Efficient & Effective Ways to Gather and Protect Your Genealogical Research; You Can Write Your Family History and Uncovering Your Ancestry Through Family Photographs.
Through each stage of his research, the Library is the place Martin can rely on to provide him with the information that will inspire him to discover more than he ever imagined about his family.