Tagged: family history

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Genealogy for Kids

Introducing kids to genealogy is a great way for them to learn more about history as well their family history. Genealogy is even being incorporated into some school curricula as way to connect kids to history. Children and teens who develop an interest in family history are more likely to participate in family history throughout their lives. And there’s also the element of FUN. Genealogy didn’t become the second most popular hobby in the U.S. by not being enjoyable! Kids, parents, grandparents, and other relatives getting involved can make this a fun and rewarding learning experience. Following are some ideas for activities that can help kids learn more about their family history. Talk to living relatives, especially older ones. The stories older relatives have to tell about what life was like for them is a great way for kids to connect to the past. This activity can help bring generations...

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Genealogy: Government Documents

Government documents are a little-known genealogical resource that can yield great benefits to genealogists. If your ancestors interacted with the federal government in some way, there may be records that document those transactions. Some kinds of these are well-known, such as federal census records, military records, passenger lists, and immigration and naturalization records. Today we’ll discuss a few of those records, along with a few that aren’t well-known, and show how you can access them. “A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation” Home page: http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/amlaw/ This free collection consists of a linked set of published congressional records (primary source documents) of the U. S. from the Continental Congress through the 43rd Congress, 1774-1875. All these materials may be viewed on-line as digital facsimile page images; some also have fully or partially searchable transcribed text. Two sets of documents on this site have great genealogical value – The U. S....

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Genealogy: Black Sheep Ancestors

One kind of ancestor that genealogists may or not look forward to finding is a “black sheep” or “skeleton in the closet.” Researchers often chuckle about the so-called “horse thief” in the family. In some instances, there’s “that relative” that everyone knows about but nobody talks about. Black sheep ancestors are people who made bad or questionable choices, committed some kind of crime, or did something considered scandalous or roguish in their day. Several factors can determine how much researchers choose to reveal about such ancestors, depending on the type of misdeed, how long ago it occurred, and the presence and feelings of living relatives. There is no “blanket” answer to this question; each instance should involve looking at the ramifications of sharing. Probably the most important consideration involves living descendants and how discoveries might affect them. Some descendants may be fine with public knowledge of what happened, while others...

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Genealogy: Court Records

Court records are important resources for genealogists for many reasons. They can establish family relationships, places of residence, and provide various kinds of family history information. Unfortunately, they tend to be difficult to use because they’re not usually well-indexed, there are many different kinds of records, and court names and jurisdictions changed over time. Also, researchers will need to learn lots of legal terms and abbreviations in order to understand the legalities in these documents. Fortunately, you can get a good basic understanding of court records and legal terminology by using some resources included later in this post. In the U. S. several types of courts exist. They include federal, state, and local courts, each designed to handle certain types of legal cases. The federal court system was established in  1789, and district courts were established in each state. Some states were divided into two or more districts as the...

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Genealogy: Public Land Records

At the close of the American Revolution in 1783, the new United States was cash-poor and land-rich. To help fill the federal treasury and ensure an orderly settlement of lands west of the original 13 colonies, Congress devised a system of settlement to encourage westward movement. The result was the Rectangular Survey System (RSS) or Public Land Survey System (PLSS). This post is meant to give you an idea of how western lands in the U. S. were laid out for settlement and how you can find out if your ancestor bought some of this land from the federal government. The Land Ordinance of 1785 and Northwest Ordinance of 1787 established the PLSS to control the survey, sale, and settling of the new land. Land was systematically surveyed into square townships, six miles on each side. Each township was then subdivided into 36 sections of one square mile each, or...