Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Finding data online - a fun day

Today was pretty much a genealogy day, with our CVGS board meeting in the morning, then delivering program flyers to libraries and senior centers, and finally doing a bit of research on Ancestry (in the 5th day of my 3 day freebie (what's up with that? - I'm not complaining!).

So rather than post something on the blog this afternoon I was digging in Ancestry for data on a friend's family. His father's line came from Norway in the 1875-1895 time frame. His father's surname is pretty rare, but I found his paternal grandparents in the 1900, 1910, 1920 and 1930 census records in Big Stone County, Minnesota, although the spelling was variable. His paternal grandmother's surname is uncommon and easily misspelled and mispronounced, but I found the family in 1900 and 1910 also in Big Stone County, but not in 1880 (before the great-grandparents married).

Then it was into the databases - WorldConnect had very little on either surname, FamilySearch had very little, and a good Googling revealed a fellow with some data in a web page. There were no message board or mailing list posts for either surname in the localities involved.

The Ancestry databases provided the Minnesota birth (1935-2002) and death records (1908-2002) for the two surnames, California birth (1905-1995) and death (1940-1997) records for my friend's surname, a World War I draft registration for my friend's grandfather, SSDI entries for his parents, the marriage record of his grandparents in South Dakota, a OneWorldTree marriage for the great-grandparents providing the wife's maiden name (actually a farm, probably), and a naturalization entry for the great-grandfather. Not a bad haul for an afternoon's effort.

Now I need to write that all up in an email for my friend and see if he knows much about his father's paternal grandparents and about his mother's family. I need to recommend data sources to him that are not in the Ancestry or other databases that might help with the unknown family names, especially for the paternal surname - my guess is that they adopted a surname when they came to America and it might be hard to find them back in Norway without the patronymic name. We'll see!

I captured all of the data images and put them in a separate directory and will print them all out for my friend to peruse. It was a decent day's work.

Frankly, I'd rather do research than write blog posts or do my society duties, but don't tell my society colleagues - the secret is safe here, I think, since they don't seem to read my blog on a regular basis.

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