Making progress with family history

So, on a whim, I started cruising around the FamilySearch.org website. They seem to be the only resource for truly free census searches. In my spare time, I’ve been doing some indexing for them. I didn’t know they had this great tool, call the Record Search Pilot.

The Record Search Pilot does a search of all the indexed records they have available. You can view the transcribed data in all cases, and in some cases, you can also view the original document! Since I’ve discovered this little tool two days ago I’ve added more than ten people to my database, and have been able to estimate birthdates and marriage dates for each family I was looking for.

I made two exciting discoveries. I kept finding birth certificates for people I knew were in my family tree, but the parents names didn’t match what I had been told. The first thing I had to realize was that the previous researcher was wrong! Secondly, based on recorded birth years in various places, as well as other known information, I realized that the mother changed her name from Magdalena to Ellen! What a relief to have been able to put those pieces together!

The second discovery I made, was to find my husband’s grandmother’s family in a census. No one knew much about them because of some tragedies that occurred which resulted in a cut-off from communication. It turns out, she had three older brothers, and I was able to view and download one of the brothers’ birth certificates, which also listed their mother’s maiden name. I then headed to the Ellis Island record search site to see if I could find any of them there because they listed that they were born in Europe. Now, I’ve heard a lot of people having success in Ellis Island searches, but I have not had any luck there. Imagine my surprise when, not only did I find her mother, but I also discovered that her father was already in Chicago, and the mother listed her home town! So now I know where they’re from!

Anyway, if you are interested in family history research, be sure to add the FamilySearch.org Record Search Pilot to your list of favorite tools. It’s now my first stop for anything before 1930.

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