Click the link to access Ancestry.com’s free online course showing you how to navigate their Wills and Probate collections.
From Larry Naukam at The In-Depth Genealogist …
Lately a term called cluster genealogy has become all the rage to study up on. It means, simply, to look at collateral relatives, neighbors, and similar people out of the direct line of your tree in hopes of extending your successful research.
What is a collateral? It’s someone who is not in your direct line of ancestors or descendants. But I hit some brick walls a long time ago, and broke down most of them by doing exactly that back in the day.
Newspapers can be very useful in tracking down that elusive ancestor and adding the “color” you won’t find in vital records. You’ll find more than just obituaries – lots more. The society pages are full of descriptions of engagement parties, weddings and even simple social events. The legal notices and business notices are also quite useful. I found several notices announcing sailings with my great-great grandfather identified as the ship’s captain.
The place to start is Chronicling America – a newspaper digitization project of the Library of Congress. It costs you nothing and new content is added regularly. You’ll find subscription archives at NewspaperArchives and GenealogyBank. Both offer free trial periods, and it’s always a good idea to make sure there are newspapers from the areas you’re researching before you commit to a paid subscription.
Some newspapers – like the New York Times or New Orleans’ Times-Picayune – have been around long enough to have a significant archive of their own. Check them out and see if you can’t take advantage of a “day pass” or some other short-term option.
Newspapers are fascinating and you’ll find lots of things to distract you while you’re searching. If you’re time’s limited, make sure to develop a plan before you begin to help you stay focused.
Thanks to Tony’s Genealogy Blog for this tidbit via Crista Cowen’s weekly updates video at Ancestry.com:
Crista spent a good time on this video noting that it is important to consider “browsing” records rather than always searching indexed databases. Browsing databases are those that have not yet been indexed. You cannot search these but the data as images is available for you to look through. The data is generally subdivided into manageable viewing components. Think of it as viewing a microfilm online. Look at an individual database via the “Card Catalog” and look to see if it has a “Browse Box” that allows you to look at the data but not be able yet to search it. The “browse box” implies the data is not yet indexed for direct searching.
Time to head for the Card Catalog …
Don’t Rely on the Search Engine
A great tip from Have You Seen My Roots?
Bottom line though – search engines can be temperamental. You can put your information into the main engine and find very little that is relevant to the person you’re looking for, but if you perform the same search in a specific database, it can yield genealogical gold!
Via Ancestry Blog:
Do you think some of your ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War? There are many collections you can look in, but pension records are a good place to start.
Pension records often contain invaluable genealogical information, including vital events that you most likely won’t find anywhere else. For the Revolutionary War, the Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files contain an estimated 80,000 application files from officers and enlisted men who served in the Revolutionary War in all branches of the American military: army, navy, and marines. Even if the claim was rejected, there will still be information there.