July 23, 2016

PERSI for Genealogy: the Periodical Source Citation Index

PERSI for Genealogy Periodical Source Citation Index

Have you met PERSI? You should! PERSI is the Periodical Source Citation Index. Use PERSI for genealogy and you may discover your ancestors in thousands of articles you never knew existed. 

You may have heard me talk in the past about PERSI. In case you haven’t…PERSI is not a person—it’s the acronym for the Periodical Source Index. PERSI is THE master index for periodicals with over 2.5 million entries. Thousands of magazines, newsletters, journals, and other periodicals from the U.S., Canada, Britain, Ireland, and Australia are indexed here.

PERSI is maintained by the Allen County Public Library’s Genealogy Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana. They have the equivalent of 6 full-time staff who are dedicated to subject-indexing every issue of every known genealogy or historical periodical and even the tiniest society newsletter.

Curt Witcher, who runs the Genealogy Center at Allen County and who has been a guest on the podcast in the past, estimates that if you don’t consult periodicals in your research, you could be missing up to 30% of your research leads! That’s a lot of leads! PERSI has long been a staple resource for advanced and professional genealogists to help them break through brick walls. With its help, you can much more quickly locate articles like biographical sketches of ancestors (or people they knew), transcribed indexes to naturalization or probate records, church records, school records, and the like. There might be just-what-you-need histories of places or the organizations your ancestors belonged to.

These key articles are often buried so deep in back issues of little local genealogy newsletters that you may never come across them on your own. Sometimes, they’re what we call “orphaned” content: articles we’d find in totally unexpected places.

HOW TO SEARCH PERSI ONLINE

PERSI used to be searchable on Ancestry, but it isn’t there anymore. You can use an older, archived version of PERSI on HeritageQuest Online at libraries that subscribe. The current version of PERSI is exclusively on Findmypast and they’re doing something really cool with it. They are adding digitized articles to the index. In fact, they added a total of 18,257 articles from 94 publications in their recent July update. They are doing this by signing contracts with each individual society or journal publisher, so it’s not a fast process. The vast majority of entries on PERSI do not have digitized articles linked to them yet. It’s a bonus when you do find them!

To search PERSI at Findmypast you do not actually need a subscription. They allow anyone to search and see the list of results. To see a image of a specific search result, you will need a subscription OR you will need to purchase their pay-per-view credits. You can also use Findmypast at Family History Centers and at many libraries that have institutional subscriptions.

Once you have located an article, it’s inexpensive to order a copy directly from the Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center. Simply download the order form PDF from their website, fill it out, and mail it in. You can request up to six articles for only $7.50, which you pre-pay and then they bill you separately for copies at 20 cents per page.

Sometime soon, why not take 15 minutes—or your next lunch break at work–and search PERSI for your top surnames and locations? Again, the database is PERSI, it is at Findmypast, and the chance to discover is all yours.

MORE GEMS ON PERSI

PERSI Digitized Collections Gaining GroundGenealogy Gems - Family History Podcast and Website

New FindMyPast Hints Help Find Records

The Genealogy Gems Podcast Premium Episode 135: Comparsion of Google Scholar & PERSI (Premium Member Subscription Needed)

 

New Record Collections Offer a Royal Treat

dig these new record collections

New record collections for the United Kingdom offer a royal treat for your week! You will find new collections for monumental inscriptions, British newspapers, and baptisms. And for the cherry on top, see the new and updated collections for the U.S. Military and the great state of Texas!

 

UNITED KINGDOM – WORCESTERSHIRE & OTHER COUNTY TOWNS

A new record collection at Findmypast entitled Worcestershire Monumental Inscriptions is now available. A monumental inscription is an etching carved into stone, wood, or on a plaque as a memorial to a person buried there. Monumental inscriptions are an important source for genealogical data. Many will include more than one name and help trace further family connections. Name, year of death, and a location are some of the things often carved into these monumental inscriptions. What is even better is if you find an ancestor in these Worcestershire Monumental Inscriptions, you can pop over and look for a baptismal record in the Worcestershire Baptisms collection.

Another new monumental inscription collection at Findmypast is entitled Aberdeenshire, Banffshire, & Kincardineshire Monumental Inscriptions. These records are going to include more data than the Worcestershire inscriptions. Name, date of death, denomination, graveyard name, special inscriptions, and even some notes may be included in these transcribed records. Many of these records will also hold multiple names.

UNITED KINGDOM – NEWSPAPERS

Findmypast has updated their British Newspapers 1710-1953 collection this week, too. There are literally thousands of local and regional publications across England, Wales, and Scotland. Each page has been digitized and indexed, which makes it super simple to find what you are looking for!

UNITED STATES – MILITARY

Fold3 now has WWI Draft Registration Cards as a searchable online database. In 1917 and 1918, about 24 million men living in the U.S. filled out a World War I draft registration card. These draft cards will contain a name, date of birth (if known), birthplace, citizenship status, and information on a relative or close associate. Even though this record collection is only about 14% complete, you may find the person you have been wondering about. Don’t forget to check back often as more records are made available.

UNITED STATES – TEXAS

FamilySearch helps the Lonestar State researchers with the Texas, Tax Rolls, 1837-1910 records. This collection has indexed records for only 231 out of the 254 counties in Texas, but you can still find records that have not been indexed by using the browse only feature. [Tip: Read step-by-step instructions for how to access the browse only databases here.]

Texas tax roll records include the first year for each county included prior to 1845, as well as 1855, 1865, 1875, 1885, 1890, 1895, and 1905. There are some gaps in several years of some counties. Ellis County, 1886, images 114, 116, 118, 120, 122, 124, 126, 128, 130, 132, and 134 are cut off on the left side, so some of the beginning letters of the surnames are missing.

Information in Texas tax records include:

  • Name of owner
  • Assessment number
  • Original grantee
  • Number of acres of land
  • Value
  • Town plot description
  • Name of city or town
  • Kind, number, and value of livestock
  • Kind, quantity, and value of farm commodities
  • Amount of state taxes
  • Amount of county taxes

MORE GEMS ON NEWSPAPER RESEARCH FOR GENEALOGY

How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers

Are you looking for some tips and tricks to find and research newspaper articles for your family history? Lisa shares all her valuable know-how and years of experience in her book How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers. Available in both a printed copy and digital version, this book provides you with a fool-proof research process and is stuffed with everything you need for genealogical success in newspaper research!

New Genealogical Records for Immigrant Ancestors

dig these new record collections

Land ho! Your immigrant ancestors are waiting to be found in these new and updated record collections. Find naturalization petitions and passport applications first, then move on to the civil registration records to find the family members they left behind. Records for this week cover the United States, Italy, Peru, and Spain.

UNITED STATES – NATURALIZATION PETITIONS

Find My Past now offers more than 7.8 million digitized records for the U.S. Naturalization Petitions collection.  Records can be found as early as 1795, but may not hold much information other than a name and place of origin. Between the years of 1905-1950 however, the naturalization process asked many helpful questions for today’s genealogist. Not only will you likely find your ancestor’s arrival information and country of origin, but you will likely find a full name, birth date and place, name of spouse and their birth date and place, and names of children and their birth details. The best part is there may be a photograph included of your relative!

This collection includes the following publications from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA):

  • NARA microfilm publication M1545, Index to Petitions and Records of Naturalizations of the U.S. and District Courts for the District of Massachusetts, 1906-1966
  • NARA publication M1522, Naturalization Petitions for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
  • NARA publication M1248, Indexes to Naturalization Petitions to the U.S. Circuit and District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, 1795-1951
  • NARA microfilm publication M2081, Indexes to Naturalization Petitions for United States District Courts, Connecticut, 1851-1992
  • NARA microfilm publication M1164, Index to Naturalization Petitions of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, 1865-1957
  • NARA microfilm publication M1675, Alphabetical Index to Declarations of Intention of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, 1917-1950
  • NARA microfilm publication M1676, Alphabetical Index to Petitions for Naturalization of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, 1824-1941

UNITED STATES – PASSPORT APPLICATIONS

The U.S. Passport Applications and Indexes can now be accessed on Find My Past. This collection currently covers records from Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania. Records from others states will be added to the collection as they are obtained. Some records go back to 1795, however the most valuable in genealogical data will likely be those created in the 20th century and beginning in December of 1914, you may find a photograph of your ancestor as well. These applications are loaded with valuable genealogy information. Find out where your ancestors were going and who they were setting out to see!

ITALY – CIVIL REGISTRATIONS

Benevento, Civil Registrations for the years of 1810-1942 have been updated on FamilySearch.org. These civil records include births, marriages, and deaths. Though the records are not yet indexed, you can browse the digital images. The records are in Italian of course, but don’t let that stop you! Just use the handy Google Translate tool for Italian to English.

PERU – CIVIL REGISTRATIONS

The Peru, La Libertad, Civil Registration, 1903-1998 is a collection of digital images at FamilySearch. Some have already been indexed, but you can browse through the entire collection as well. Included within these civil registrations are birth, marriage, and death records. You will be delighted to find extra genealogically significant pieces of information like names of witnesses and parents, and even the ages of parents. [TIP: When you find the age of the parent, you can calculated the estimated birth year which will come in handy as you continue to fill your family tree.]

SPAIN – MUNICIPAL RECORDS

FamilySearch also offers the Spain, Province of Cadiz, Municipal Records for 1784-1956. Some of these digital images have been indexed, but it would serve you well to browse through the 1.6 million records. Remember, they are broken down into smaller locations which make searching over 1 million records do-able. The municipal records include what is traditionally considered civil records like birth, marriage, and death items. However, they go one step further and contain some interesting record sets such as censuses, military records, and nobility records.

WHY WE’RE HERE

Each week, we share what’s new and updated in genealogical record collections. We hope you will feel inspired to dig with us as we flesh out our long, lost ancestors. For more helpful tips and tricks for your genealogy success, sign-up for our free weekly newsletter found at the top right of this page or by scrolling to the bottom if you are on your mobile device. Have a great weekend!

MORE GEMS ON RESEARCHING IMMIGRANT ANCESTORS

U.S. Passport Applications: Finding Immigrant & Traveling Ancestors

Beginning Irish Genealogy: Tip & Free Records
Google Drive and other tips

How to Use Google Earth for Genealogy

 

How to Find Recent Genealogy Records That Are Not Online Yet

recent genealogy records not online yet square

Records that have been created recently are difficult to find and access. Some privacy laws protect, and hinder, our being able to find more recent birth, marriage, and death records we need. Here are some tips for finding these and other genealogy records not yet online.

Recently, Tom in Olympia, Washington wrote us with a question about how to find recent genealogy records that are not online yet.

“My wife’s mother was adopted in 1925. We have found her biological mother’s name and through Ancestry.com, I’ve found several bits of information about her from census records. She also was a crew member on three steamships in the 1930s. On two of the ship manifests, her U.S. passport numbers are listed. Do you know any search options for finding information from passports in the 1930s?”

Maybe you have had a similar question. We hope our answer helps everyone more easily find genealogical records that are not online yet.

Obtaining Recent Passport Application Records

Tom will be interested in obtaining a passport application record which may hold more information about his targeted ancestor. As Tom already discovered, U.S. passport records are online at Ancestry and FamilySearch, but only those records prior to 1925.

My original hope was that the National Archives Records Administration would have had the passport application records for the 1930s. I googled passport applications National Archives, and the first search result took me to an excellent article. I learned the U.S. State Department has passport applications on microfilm between the years and dates of 1795 to 1905 and January 2, 1906 – March 31, 1925. Sadly, these were not the years Tom was looking for.

To find information about passport applications in the 1930s, I needed to go another route. I opened a new window and googled U.S. State Department passport applications request copy. The first search result took me right to the page I needed. The Passport Services maintain the U.S. passport records from 1925 to the present. These records are protected by the Privacy Act of 1974.

Passport records in this time frame for a third-party person are processed under the Freedom of Information Act. These records need to ordered by mail. Tom can make a request in writing and send that request to:

U.S. Department of State
Office of Law Enforcement Liaison
FOIA Officer
44132 Mercure Cir
P.O. Box 1227
Sterling, VA 20166

I suggested he mention his desire for the information is for genealogical purposes and what his relationship is to the person in question.

Using the Same Strategy for Other Recent Genealogy Records

Remember, this same kind of strategy applies to other genealogical records you might be looking for that were created recently. You can use Google searches and follow-up phone to find out where more recent records are and the access policies.

As an example, a recent Indiana marriage license index can be searched and viewed online for free at the Public Access records website for the state. I found this little goody by googling Indiana marriage records.

Recent_Records_1

All of us at Genealogy Gems adore having the opportunity to find and share solutions like this one for overcoming the problem of locating recent genealogy records that aren’t online. If you haven’t done so already, sign-up for our weekly newsletter for more tips and tricks. Oh, and write to us anytime with your genealogy questions! We love to hear from you!

More Gems on Recent Genealogy Records

foia turns 50 featured image

Other recent genealogy records in the U.S. are also available via the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Click here to read about them! They include post-World War II draft registrations, immigration and naturalization documents and Social Security applications (SS-5).

Exciting New Records Across the Southern U.S.

dig these new record collections

Exciting new genealogical records are popping up for the southern U.S. this week. If you haven’t found the record you need yet, try again…you may be surprised! Records for Arizona, New Mexico, California, Texas, Kentucky, and Georgia are listed below.

 

 

ARIZONA, NEW MEXICO, CALIFORNIA, AND TEXAS – BORDER CROSSINGS

Ancestry has updated their Border Crossings: From Mexico to U.S., 1895-1964 collection. This database is an index of aliens and some citizens that crossed into the U.S. from Mexico via the states of Arizona, New Mexico, California, and Texas. Each port of entry used a slightly different form, so some data will vary. Information contained in these records may include: name, age, birth date and place, gender, ethnicity, the names of individuals accompanied by, and port and date of arrival.

KENTUCKY – MARRIAGES

FamilySearch has updated the Kentucky, County Marriages, 1797-1954 collection this week as well. This database is unique because it contains digital images of the marriage books and ledgers. There are over 1 million digital images in this collection, and now they are almost completely indexed. It is much easier to search these records when they have been indexed. However, you can still have great success using browse-only databases by reading our simple how-to post here.

GEORGIA – MILITARY

The Georgia World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1940-1945 have been updated at FamilySearch, too. These draft cards cover a group of individuals born between 1897 and 1929. Usually, WWII draft cards contain the following information:

  • Name and Serial Number
  • Place of residence
  • Date and place of birth
  • Age
  • Name of person who will always know your permanent address (which is sometimes a relative)
  • Employer’s name and address
  • Physical description (height, weight, color of hair and eyes)

GEORGIA

This week, I found the Georgia Vault online at the Georgia Archives. The “vault” is an online website of digital material that pertains to the history of Georgia. Deed books, church records, colonial wills, and confederate pensions are just a sampling of the things you will find there. I think you could spend a few afternoons browsing their wonderful collections. There is so much to see!

Would you let us know of any new or updated record collections we may have missed? Just leave us a comment below. Afterall, it’s nice to share!

More Gems on Using New Genealogical Recordsshare

Browse Only Databases at FamilySearch: Easy to Use

 

New Record Collections Reach From Sea to Shining Sea

new record collections for Rhode Island

This week’s new record collections reach from sea to shining sea. Keep reading for great genealogical records available for the United States, Scotland, and Canada.

UNITED STATES – RHODE ISLAND – COURT RECORDS

The Rhode Island Historical Society has launched a digital archive entitled “Colonial Justice: Preserving and Digitizing Early Rhode Island Court Records.” These new record collections cover the years of 1729-1812 for the counties of Providence, Kent, and what was known as Kings County (now known as Washington County.) The online records are free and open to the public.

SCOTLAND – MILITARY

In honor of the Battle of the Somme on July 1st, 1916, ScotlandsPeople is offering free access to the stories of five Scots and one French soldier who lost their lives in the Battle. These stories include digital images of several records in which the soldier appears and even some great personal photographs and biographies.

CANADA – CENSUS

MyHeritage is always adding new record collections. This week, they have added the 1911 Canadian Census. This census was conducted in May and June of 1911 and enumerated over 7 million people. Questions asked on this census include: name, relationship to head of household, marital status, birth month and year, age at last birthday, nationality, immigration year, naturalization year, and religion. Be sure to check out these digital images if you have some research to do in Canada.

UNITED STATES, UNITED KINGDOM, AND IRELAND – FREE ACCESS

In case you hadn’t heard, Findmypast is offering free access to their complete record collections for the United States, United Kingdom, and Ireland. This free access began on June 29th and will run through July 6th. Take advantage of over 1 billion online records like naturalizations, marriages, and censuses.

Please share these new record collections!

As always, we hope you feel like sharing this week’s new and updated genealogical records with your friends. (Let them know about free access to Findmypast, too!)

share these new record collections

 

Browse Only Databases at FamilySearch are Easy to Use

browse only databasesBrowse only databases at FamilySearch are easy to use and may hold the key to the genealogy brick wall you have been working on. Don’t be scared off because the records haven’t been indexed. Let us show you how to take advantage of these great records!

Each week, we bring you our We Dig These Gems! New and Updated Genealogy Records series. Sometimes, we include FamilySearch databases that are not yet indexed. These collections are referred to as browse only. Have you been disappointed when you realize the database you are most interested in is only able to be browsed?

 

Browse Only Databases at FamilySearch are Easy to Use

You may be thinking, “Good grief! I can’t possibly browse thousands of records!” and we don’t expect you to.

Browse Only Databases are Easy to Find

Most of us search for genealogy records at FamilySearch by typing in some key information at the home page.

How to Browse Database

When you use this method, you are only searching for records that have been indexed. In other words, there may be thousands of records you want on the site, but you won’t find them. They have not been indexed by a searchable name. Instead, you need to go in the virtual “back door.”

Let’s imagine you want to search probate records in Auglaize County, Ohio. You would click the little map in the vicinity of the United States and choose “Ohio” from the pop-up box.

How to Browse Database

At the Ohio research page, you could do a general search of the Ohio collections. Again, this is only searching records that have been indexed. Instead, scroll down until you see “Ohio Image Only Historical Records.” Look at all these databases you might have missed!

For our example, continue to scroll down until you see the database titled “Ohio Probate Records, 1789-1996” near the bottom. Click on it.

Browse_Only_Database_4

You will notice right away that there is no way to “search” this database. Many people give up at this point, after all, who has time to search nearly 7,000,000 records. Click on it anyway!

Browse_Only_Database_5

The next screen has been broken down by county name. Choose the county name “Auglaize.” You are then directed to a page listing the volumes of records for Auglaize county that have been digitized.

Bonds, settlements, wills, estates, and so much more! It is as if you are standing in the courthouse probate office surrounded by volumes and volumes of records you need. Pick the volume you want to search by clicking the title.

Browse_Only_Database_6

“Open” the pages of the book and search like you would as if you were flipping the pages of a book or scrolling through a roll of microfilm.

Browse_Only_Database_7

Friends, we want you to get excited about all the new records that are coming online, even if they are browse only databases. Share this tip with your genie friends and for more tips and tricks to help you in your genealogy journey, sign-up for our newsletter by entering your email address on this page.

More Genealogy Gems on Records and Databases at FamilySearch

We Dig these Gems! New Records for Australia, Philippines, and Iowa and Indiana

We Dig these Gems! New Records for California, England, Australia, and Italy

Using the U.S. Public Records Index for Genealogy

We Dig These New and Updated Genealogical Records


We have a new title for our Friday series, but it is still your go-to list for new and updated genealogical records! Here is this week’s suggestions for Australia, North Carolina, and Florida. Happy hunting!Dig_Records_First_Image

AUSTRALIA – MILITARY

Fold3.com has added WWI Service Records for Australian soldiers to their website. This collection contains service dossiers for the Australian Imperial Force, Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force, Royal Australian Naval Bridging Train, Australian Flying Corps, and the Australian Army Nursing Service. It also has depot records for those serving at home. Records found in this collection are administrative files that only provide a general overview of the individual’s service. Further information may include details about casualties, wills, medals, pensions, mail, and personal effects.

UNITED STATES – NORTH CAROLINA – LAND GRANTS

Ancestry.com now offers the North Carolina, Land Grant Files for 1693-1960 for those researching this area. Organized by county name, these records offer warrants, surveys, and sometimes a hand drawn map. Additional information may include:

  • Certificate number
  • County
  • Name of grantee
  • Number of acres
  • Date the grant was issued
  • Entry Book and page number
  • Location description

UNITED STATES – FLORIDA – PASSENGER LISTS

Florida, Passenger Lists, 1898-1963 is a record collection provided by Ancestry.com. It is an index-only of passenger lists of ships and airplanes arriving from foreign ports to various Florida ports. The names found on this index are linked to images of the passenger lists, which were copied from the NARA microfilm. Information you might find on these indexed records include:

  • Given name and surname of passenger
  • Age, sex, and ethnicity/nationality
  • Birthplace and last residence
  • Name of friend or relative
  • Final destination
  • Port of departure and/or arrival
  • Date of arrival and/or departure

RESEARCH TIP:

Many passenger list forms from the twentieth century are two pages long. You should click the Previous and Next buttons to make sure you are seeing the all the information.

We Dig These Gems! New Records Online

new genealogy records onlineHere’s this week’s group of new genealogy records online. Though not all these databases are new, many have been updated and are definitely worth another look! Records for: England, Ireland, Australia, and the United States.

ENGLAND – WARWICKSHIRE – BURIALS. Warwickshire Burials, 1836-2006 at Findmypast now has over 175,000 new records. This collection contains more than 1 million records which include inscriptions from the Clifton Road Cemetery in Rugby.

ENGLAND – SURREY – MARRIAGE. New records have been added to the Surrey Marriage Index, 1538-1887 on Findmypast. Though it is only an index, it now offers over 755,000 records from 178 parishes in Surrey, England.

IRELAND – COURT REGISTERS. Findmypast has added Irish Petty Sessions Court Registers, 1828-1912 to their collections. This database includes details of victims and witnesses, as well as those accused of a crime. The Petty Sessions were the lowest courts and often heard cases about money and domestic disputes. Another exclusive database for Ireland research is the Ireland Poor Law Reportsalso found at Findmypast.

AUSTRALIA – BEACHPORT – RATE BOOKS. South Australia Rate Books is an index of about 4,000 records. This index was transcribed from rate assessments for the coastal district of Beachport between the years of 1882 and 1888. Information varies, but may include your ancestor’s name, assessment year, assessment number, occupier, owner, situation, and town.

UNITED STATES – HOMESTEAD RECORDS. Ancestry.com has updated their U.S., Homestead Records, 1861-1936 this week. These records currently only cover six states, which are: Ohio, Arizona, Indiana, Iowa, Nebraska, and Nevada. They will be adding more states in the future. These documents are part of the Records of the Bureau of Land Management. Many application and case files contain valuable pieces of genealogical data.

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Be sure to check in next week to see what’s new in genealogy records and collections. Sign-up for Lisa’s free weekly e-newsletter so you are sure not to miss it. Just enter your email address in the sign-up box at the top of this webpage or scroll to the bottom if you are on your mobile device. You’ll also receive a free e-book with Lisa Louise Cooke’s best Google search strategies for genealogists!

Using the US Public Records Index for Genealogy

US Public records index for genealogyThe US Public Records Index can be useful for genealogy–if you understand what it is and how to use it properly. Here’s an example and some tips.

Not long Russ sent in this tip recommending the US Public Records Index for genealogy:

“I was listening to Genealogy Gems Podcast 181 [in which] you were talking about where do we search while we are waiting for the 1950 Census….I recently discovered a wonderful resource, on Ancestry.com, that I have used along with city directories. The name of the record group doesn’t sound interesting but it can be a Gem for you: the US Public Record Index, 1950-1993, Volume 1 and 2. Volume 1 is far more interesting with more data. A search will return a name AND birth date, along with more than one address, zip code and sometimes phone numbers.”

Here’s a sample search result:

US Public records index

Russ kindly sent me Ancestry’s description of the its online database for Volume 1, which says that original data comes from public records spanning all 50 states, such as voter registration lists, public record filings, historical residential records and other household database listings.

Collection Profile

What: U.S. Public Records Index

Where: Ancestry, FamilySearch, MyHeritage

Years Spanned: 1950-2009

Source Type: Lacking original source citations. “Hints to go on and follow up with further research into verifiable sources.”

Then he shared the following example of using the US Public Records Index to find recent relatives that he can’t look up yet in the 1950 census:

“I had a hint for a cousin in a yearbook. I know that she recently lived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I didn’t know where she went to college and I know her birthday. The name is not unique, not also not common. At the same time, I had the hint for the Public Record Index. You know those things we can’t use in a proof argument, but there [she] was in Philadelphia. The yearbook had her picture and only her name, not spelled the way I know it, but the Public Record Index puts her in Philadelphia at the right time and place.

I have seen 2 or 3 addresses for folks in the 1980’s and 1990’s in these indexes. Not all addresses have dates, but some do. I have one cousin with 5 addresses since 1983 and he won’t be in a census until the 1960 Census Records are released.”

Russ blogs about his family history at worthy2be.wordpress.com/. Thanks for the tip!

The U.S. Public Records Index pops up in my search results sometimes, too. Both volume 1 and volume 2 are searchable on Ancestry.com, as Russ says, in separate databases. Each has over 400,000 records in it. There’s also a free partial version of this database for 1970-2009 at FamilySearch.org and yet a third version at MyHeritage, with 816 million records, with nearly the same time frame. The FamilySearch database says its data comes from “telephone directories, property tax assessments, credit applications, and other records available to the public.”

More on the US Public Records Index

Here are a few tips worth mentioning about the US Public Records Index. Some of these points come from the FamilySearch wiki:

  1. Not everyone who lived in the U.S. appears in the index, and you’re more likely to find birth information for those born between 1900 and 1990. What you’ll find is primarily where someone lived, and often when they lived there.
  2. It’s rarely possible to positively identify a relative in this index, since there’s limited information and it spans the entire country for up to a half century, and you can’t follow up on the record it comes from because the index doesn’t say where individual records come from. So as Russ says, this is a great resource to use in combination with other records. It’s a similar concept to the way you might consult family trees that lack sources: hints to go on and follow up with further research into verifiable sources.
  3. When you find more recent listings, you can sometimes find telephone numbers for living distant relatives. If the thought of cold-calling distant relatives seems a little intimidating, listen to my Family History: Genealogy Made Easy podcast, episodes 14-15, for tips–and to get your courage up!

1950s family historyMore Gems on Researching Recent Relatives

The 1950 Census Substitute: What to Use Until Its Release Date

Google Earth for Genealogy: Map Your Own Childhood Homes

World War II Military Yearbooks

 

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