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GREEN VALLEY GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY

From the Green Valley News, Friday 1 June 2007, page B6


Genealogy Today, by Betty Malesky

Summer: Time for Research

Summer in Green Valley usually includes travel. Itís not too difficult to make a genealogical excursion part of your summer plans. Do a little homework and youíre sure to find several places you can visit on the way to or from your summer destination.

If youíve never ventured into a courthouse to research your family, why not start now. Before leaving home, check the USGenWeb site at http://www.usgenweb.org/ for the location of courthouses youíd like to visit. The homepage features links to all the states, and the state homepages are linked to the counties within the state. Normally you will find other links here to information about government offices, archives, and libraries in the area.

The county courthouse is a treasure house of records for the prepared genealogist. Besides having a record of all land and probate transactions from the inception of the county, you can find voting records, tax records, land plat maps, marriage, and county court records. If youíve been intimidated at the thought of tackling courthouse research, professional genealogist Christine Rose has written an excellent resource book, Courthouse Research for Family Historians. The book is available for about $20 on Amazon.com.

When we think of genealogical libraries we tend to think of Salt Lake City or Fort Wayne, Indiana, but many excellent smaller libraries exist all over the U.S. to help you find information about ancestors who lived in the area they serve.

USGenWeb is also a good place to begin the search for libraries located where you will travel. Each state link generally has a link to libraries in that state with genealogical collections. If not, poke around on your county site and youíll likely find libraries listed. Otherwise try a Google search for genealogy library and the geographic location.

Before leaving home you might want to call for hours a library is open if it is not listed on the website. Many smaller libraries are staffed by volunteers and open only a few days or hours a week or by appointment. You will want to arrange your trip accordingly.

The state capital may also have a state library or archives where the earliest records of the state are found. Some counties or towns in the state may have transferred their records to a central state archives. Again, on the state USGenWeb site you should be able to determine the type and extent of records available.

If you are visiting the area where your ancestors lived and have never done the local cemeteries be sure to do so when youíre in the area. Older cemeteries are quickly disappearing due to encroaching development, new highways, and lack of maintenance. Weather and neglect have caused many ancient tombstones to wear away or fall over so they are illegible. Local volunteers may have read the cemetery markers in years past. Check libraries and historical societies in the area so see if they have such lists available.

Once you have tasted on-site research it will whet your appetite for more. Microfilm is handy and convenient, but itís not the same as entering the courthouse frequented by an ancestor or walking a cemetery where grieving family members once left their departed loved ones.


GVGS
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