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Genealogy Research in the Winter

Winter has finally arrived here in central Nebraska. With several inches of snow, extremely cold temperatures and icy, snow packed roads, it means couch-research.


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Resource: Tracing Lines
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Winter has finally arrived here in central Nebraska. With several inches of snow, extremely cold temperatures and icy, snow packed roads, it means couch-research.

Using my computer, Internet browser along with the cell phone or phone, I can travel at home to my destinations. I prefer to make trips to courthouses, libraries and particularly cemeteries. Sometimes it isn't possible when I am home bound.

There are a number of cemetery projects on Internet, but even so there are many cemeteries that have never been canvassed, photographed or visited. Enter the name of the cemetery and location into a search engine, such as Google. If you locate the cemetery, there may be an address or better yet a telephone number and web page. You may be able to e-mail the cemetery or call them for information. This works good for larger cemeteries. If this fails, you can always mail a letter requesting information.

It is a good idea to also check the genealogy county web pages which are available at places such as USGenWeb, The USGenWeb Project. Another web site to check is Genealogy Trails and History Group, Genealogy Trails Finding Ancestors wherever their trails led. There may be lists of volunteers at specific states and counties who will be willing to look up cemetery information. Another web site to check is Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness,

Some of those small, rural cemeteries will have to wait until you are able to get off the couch and travel to them, or have somebody go there for you. In the meantime, you can map out their location. Use Google and Google Maps to find the maps and save them for reference.

Courthouse research can be done with a letter, e-mail or phone call. Begin by checking out the state government and county government. A very comprehensive web page on government offices is at Click on the state of interest. This will take you to information about the state government and a listing of counties. Locate your county of interest and click. You may also find city government links of interest.

Once you are on the county government web page, you will be able to find links and further information such as e-mail addresses, phone numbers, the courthouse address and more. By placing a phone call to the office holding a specific record, you can have them check to make sure the record is available. Be sure to ask questions, such as the cost of photocopies.

It is best not to have too many lookup requests at once. By making the phone call, you will save time and eliminate the possibility that the record is not in their office. They may advise you that it is stored off-site or in another location. Be sure to ask questions regarding how to locate the necessary record.

Keep in mind that you may be interrupting their busy schedule. I try to avoid calls to courthouses right after a holiday or around election time. County elections vary from county to county, so read the web page for further information.

A few months ago I contacted a county courthouse office regarding some divorce papers from the late 1800s. I was told they were remodeling the office and all the records were in storage until it was finished. I gave them the necessary information and two months later received a follow-up call telling me they had found the record that I needed. This was better than mailing a letter which may have gotten shuffled around in the remodeling transition.

Winter is a perfect time to get books on interlibrary loan. Be sure to check WorldCat on Internet, WorldCat. Entering a full title will result in information about the book, where it can be located and how far the library is from your place of residence. Being home bound, you can have your local librarian request the book or books on interlibrary loan. There are many large genealogy collections that circulate on interlibrary loan.

The book you need may be downloadable on Google Books, You can also link directly into WorldCat from their web page. As you check the Family History Library Catalog on the new FamilySearch web page, FamilySearch International, you will notice that specific titles will be shown as digitized. You can click and locate more information and also download the item in PDF format.

There are many web pages with links to public libraries in the United States. One of them of interest is Public, Public Libraries. Click on the state of interest and you will locate the city, library, library system, address and phone number. If they have a web page, you can click and go directly to the web page. Many libraries have databases online or information about genealogy collections.

In preparation for summer time research, print out the library information along with a Google map of their location, and the hours they are open. You can go to the library, the cemetery and the courthouse with all of this information. Winter is a good time to create a notebook of Summer Research.

Source Information: Tracing Lines, New Providence, NJ, USA: Genealogy Today LLC, 2011.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Genealogy Today LLC.

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