She was a beautiful, young Irish maid, working in a wealthy English household. Her employer’s oldest son fell in love with her. When he announced intentions to marry her, his parents said they would disown him. He married her anyway. Then, bride and groom ran away to live happily ever after. “Her name was Mary Cordial,” my maternal grandmother Marilyn Matilda Dietz told me, that distinct glimmer of pleasure in her eyes—the one she always had when she retold this story. “And you are her legacy.”

This blog is a resource for those who want to--have to--find out more about who they came from.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Location, Location, Location

It isn't exactly news that has become one of the very best web sites for genealogical research nowadays, having much improved its offerings from the questionable member-submitted information and unconfirmed family trees of old to the free-to-download scans of actual vital records that can be found there today. Did you know, however, that there’s a way to search specific state records rather than slog through all of the results that a basic records search yields? It’s true, and it could save you a lot of research time.

Searching for family members by specific location is handy, particularly when you're looking for a family member with an exceedingly common surname. The problem with using the site’s basic search option is that although you may specify "New York" as the birthplace of your ancestor, the search will yield results that aren’t New York specific, requiring you to either filter results (which may work) or click through a bunch of pages that have no value to you at all. If you know where y our ancestor lived, searching by location yields far more relevant results.

Here's how one searches by location on Family Search:

1. Click on "Search" in FamilySearch web site's top bar.

2. Instead to filling out the resulting search fields, look to the lower right and click on the Browse All Published Collections link.

3. Select the Place, Date or Collections in the left sidebar on the resulting page. By doing so, you are narrowing down the scope of the search in a way that's far more likely to find your ancestor. (For the purpose of an example, I select "United States of America" and then "New Jersey," to look for a female relative that I know lived there.)

4. After selecting the state, a list of individual databases comes up. For my New Jersey search, the list is as follows:

25 Feb 2013
21 Mar 2012
04 Dec 2012
14 May 2014
18 Jun 2014
04 Mar 2012
19 Dec 2011
18 Jun 2014
13 Feb 2014
22 Jun 2012
08 Oct 2014

As you can see, some listings say "Browse Images" next to them. This means they have not yet been indexed and are not searchable, so one would need to go through the images one by one to look for information. You’d need to know approximately when your ancestor might have generated a record in order to possibly find it. The other databases with large numbers in the same column, however, hold records that are already indexed, so you can click into the database and plug in your ancestor's information. Those records, if any, should pop right up.

Hopefully, searching by location on Family Search will help you to find your hard-to-find ancestors more easily. If it does, I hope you’ll post about it in the comments section, letting me know.

"Coffee" image above courtesy of luigi diamanti/