HeritageQuest Online

There are so many online sources of genealogical information out there.  Some of them should be one of the places you check for every new individual.  Many are subscription based, but have agreements with libraries that make them accessible to all, for free.  HeritageQuest Online is one of them.

I access HeritageQuest Online for free through the Free Library of Philadelphia.  Check for a library in your area that has the same access.  You only need your library card number and a pin number.

HeritageQuest allows me to search many old genealogical books and journals, and also has images for many of the US Censuses.  It’s also a great source if just looking for information about the area and time in which your ancestors lived.

There are other similar online holdings out there, such as JSTOR.  So be sure to always check the website of the library in your area, as well as the libraries in the area of your ancestors for access to free information.


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Most helpful site of the week:  www.stevemorse.org.

While doing some research for my Italian nieces and nephews, my search took me to NY, NY.

I had found their great grandmother’s journey to America in 1920 on a ship’s passenger list.  As usual, the passenger list was a great source of information.  In this case it landed me with 3 major pieces.  First, there was a list of all the family members on the trip and their relationships to the one left at home.  Second, it listed the hometowns.  Last, was what took me to NY:  the name and address of the person they were meeting up with in NY.

This address became important because census searches for the names were getting me nowhere, despite all my usual tricks of changing names, using wildcards, etc.  Because of the address listed on the ship’s list, I had a new place to search on the census.  The trouble with NY, NY is that it’s a really big place.  Really big.  So it has many different districts.  Only, I had no idea in which district the address falls.

That’s where www.stevemorse.org came in.  This site does a fantastic job of pinpointing the enumeration districts (ED).  All I had to do was find the address on a map (google maps, eg) and then input the 4 crossroads (the 4 streets making the block) into the program.  Bingo!  ED identified.  Then, I browsed the census in ancestry.com.  You can also just press the button to view the page (must have ancestry.com account to be able to do this).  Then I found the address, and its inhabitants.

I have used other sites in the past to help me identify EDs.  This one, without a doubt, has been the easiest.

The website has many other “One-Step” searches that I’m sure I’ll find useful as well.

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Starting a blog…

I figured since I find myself spending more and more time working on family history research that I ought to start a blog about it.  I suppose I could write about any interesting items I find along the way, or even about the ones I have already found.

I’ve been interested in genealogy for a long time.  I started thoroughly documenting the work sometime in the 90′s.  The first time I stepped in the National Archives center in Philadelphia, I was permanently hooked.  Once I flipped through the microfilm and found the passenger list for my grandmother’s immigration from Ireland, I couldn’t wait to find more.  Then trips to Ellis Island and the Washington, D.C. National Archives pretty much sealed the deal.

I have my files on Ancestry.com and at home on Family Tree Maker.  I had been researching my side of the family for so many years, that I decided it was time to check out the Shacklock side.  It started out challenging, but quickly took me in interesting directions.  I have enjoyed collaborating with some Shacklock cousins along the way.  There were some intriguing stories about his Kemp (Stockton) side of the family that I am interested in documenting, should they be true.

These days I jump from file to file.  I have even started trees for other families.  While it is a bit ADD, it also helps me keep a fresh look at everything.  Revisiting an ancestor with a clear mind sometimes helps me think of a new path to research.

This week I finally took the time to visit the LDS Family Search Center here in York.  While it is only operating out of 2 small rooms, there is a wealth of knowledge there, and some really nice people!  I only had time to become familiar with their set-up, but plan on going back very soon.  I have already started a list of some images that I expect them to have.

Time to get back to the research!

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