Monday, June 12, 2006

Pursuing my Elusive Ancestors - Part 1

My wife and I attended my cousin’s 50th wedding anniversary in Easton PA in May 2004, and we also visited Cooperstown NY, Toronto and Niagara Falls in Ontario, and the Washington DC area over 16 days and 2,000 miles. Of course, I was able to do a bit of genealogy research at some of the “in-between” places – Newton NJ, Watertown NY, Mercer PA, and Hyattsville MD. These locations are places where some of my most elusive ancestors lived.

To prepare for the trip, I posted notes on the Rootsweb message boards asking for recommendations for places to do research. I also defined what I hoped to find at each repository. I printed out a map of the area (using and a list of the holdings of each repository. Finally, I printed out a genealogy report for each family of interest including my notes, and put them in my notebook. I thought I was well prepared.

In previous presentations to my local society, I recommended visiting local libraries, genealogy and historical societies to find the records that are not available in publications, at the Family History Library, or on the Internet. This was my quest at each location visited – try to find manuscripts, maps, correspondence files, vertical files, etc. that only a local repository might have. I also wanted to visit as many ancestral homesteads as possible.

Parts 2 through 5 of this series will cover research at each location.

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