The next page is not always the next page

June 19, 2010

If you find a family listed at the top or bottom of a page in the census, take care about blithely hopping to the “previous” or “next” page. Occasionally pages are out of order, so that the family’s continuation is actually not on the page one would assume it will be. If the enumerator has written the surnames in every line, or at least at the top of the next page, this may be easily seen, but sometimes one has to check the page numbers to determine if you are really seeing entries for the rest of the family. However, this

Oktibbeha County, MS, 1930, Enumeration District 24-16, page 2B

example from Oktibbeha County, MS in 1930 lists parents William T. and Lucy Cothran with sons Pope M. and Carl C. on page 2B, while the rest of the household, sons William and James and Lucy’s father, Pope Williams are at the top of page 2 A.

Oktibbeha County, MS, 1930, Enumeration District 24-16, page 2A

Only the dwelling and family visitation numbers reflect the fact that this is a family. So instead of going to the next page, to find the continuation of the family, one must look at the top of the previous page. So remember to examine your material thoroughly to verify that the family grouping is complete and correct.


Where Did I Find …?

June 8, 2010

It is never too late to start logging your sources. Knowing where you gathered particular details on an ancestor is very important in your research. When evaluating incongruous information, reviewing which source the details are from can help you decide what is more accurate. Another reason to keep track of your sources is so others can verify or follow-up on your research.

Some ways you can keep track of where you found information on your ancestors are:

1. Maintain a log of sources in a notebook or on your genealogy software.

2. Copy the title page of sources you have viewed.

3. Note materials you have searched, but in which you did not find information. It prevents you from repeatedly returning to the same source.

Family Reunions

June 1, 2010

With the end of school, many people will plan family vacations over the coming months. With any luck, some vacations will include getting together with family members and holding a family reunion.

The Allen County Public Library has several books available to help you plan your reunion. Even if you can’t visit us, you can look for these books at your local library.

Your family reunion: how to plan it, organize it and enjoy it

How to plan your African-American family reunion

The family reunion sourcebook

Family reunion: everything you need to know to plan unforgettable get-togethers for every kind of family

Another option for a summer trip is to visit the Genealogy Center and enjoy a research vacation.

Researching Long Distance via RAOGK

May 10, 2010

by Dawne

The situation happens to everyone eventually – you discover a record that you need copied, a quick look-up to be done, or a photograph of a tombstone – but it is in a distant state and you can’t get there yourself. Sometimes the easiest way to get record copies is through corresponding directly with the courthouse or library in the distant location. But in other cases, that can be expensive and/or take more time than you would like.

Another option is to hire a professional researcher to do the task for you. The Association of Professional Genealogists and the Board for Certification of Genealogists have lists of available professional researchers on their websites. Many libraries and courthouses also have lists of researchers who have placed their names with the facilities. But often these professionals require a multi-hour retainer to make the job worth their while, and if you have just a quick look-up to be done, this doesn’t really suit your needs.

Photo of gravestone of Mary, wife of Samuel Rhodes, died March 18, 1856, aged 50 ys. 6 mo. 11 ds. (Old Huntertown Cemetery, southeast corner of Dunton and Cedar Canyon Roads, Perry Township, Allen County, Indiana) that Dawne recently took and sent as a Random Act of Genealogical Kindness.

What to do? See if a volunteer will do the small (but significant to you!) job at the cost of any out-of-pocket expenses. Contact the genealogical society in the area where you need the look-up done and ask whether it has members who will do such work. Or go to the website of Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness (RAOGK) at and see whether anyone has registered to do lookups in the area in which you are interested.

Volunteers on the RAOGK have agreed to do one free genealogy research task at least once a month in their local areas. Those who take advantage of this service must pay the out-of-pocket expenses such as record fees, copy fees, postage, parking fees and the like. They also would like a thank you, of course. The RAOGK boasts more than 4,000 volunteers, with a volunteer in every state and many other countries.

Whether or not you are successful in finding someone who will perform a Random Act of Genealogical Kindness for you, consider adding your name to the list as someone who will do a look-up in your local area. One look-up a time, once a month, we can make long-distance genealogical research easier for everyone and perhaps even bank some good karma for our own genealogical endeavors!

Printing from

April 22, 2010 is an online database available at the Genealogy Center, where you can access the 1790-1930 Census, Passenger Lists, Military Records, Family Trees, and much more. Once you find the record you have been searching for years to discover, you might want a copy of it for your records.
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Ellingham Family Papers

April 5, 2010

(and other long records in the library catalog)

by Aaron

Here in the Genealogy Center, we own a number of very large and comprehensive compilations of significant research created by individuals who have committed decades to their respective projects. One such recently cataloged set is the Lewis Ellingham’s Family Papers. Its 363 volumes contain thousands of surnames, accompanied by pedigree charts and genealogical tables encompassing hundreds of years. However, there is no index to these volumes. So how does one find information about specific names of interest?

In the Allen County Public Library catalog, type the surname you seek followed by the word “family” (searching it as a subject and limiting your search to the Genealogy Center will help).

The results you get will look like this.

You’ll notice that the Ellingham family papers (#3 above), includes 158 volumes–volumes 206 through 363. When you click on the Details button, you see this.

Then click on the Catalog Record tab.

This very long screen of information is easily searched by using the Find command in your browser. In the most common browsers (Internet Explorer and Firefox), hold the Ctrl key down and strike the F key. A box will appear on your screen. Enter the surname you are looking for in that box.

When you press enter, the browser will locate the text in the record, and in this instance you will know there is a significant reference to a Deetz family in vol. 276.

Boundary Changes

March 25, 2010

To determine where we should look for records, we need to know the county and state our ancestor lived. As we search, we need to review histories and maps of the county and state to see when and how the boundaries changed.

States changed their boundaries more than we think. For example, Kentucky settlements were a part of Virginia until Kentucky became a state in 1792, but continued to have boundary disputes with Tennessee until 1820. The northwestern portion of Virginia split in 1863, forming West Virginia. Colonial Louisiana included sections of ten other states, including Minnesota.

County boundaries changed more frequently than state boundaries. Present day Indian River County, Florida has changed county boundaries six times since being Indian Lands. Sections of Mellette County, South Dakota were formerly part of Cheyenne and Jackson Counties.

To begin determining changes in county and state boundaries, you can search the following books:

Red Book

The Handybook for Genealogists

Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Censuses, 1790-1920

Atlas of Historical County Boundaries Series