Dot to Dot Research

by Ruby Coleman

In grade school I enjoyed doing the dot to dot or number to number drawings that were found in coloring books. It was fun to do them fast to see how quickly I could count, but usually I would connect a wrong number, have the erase what was wrong and start over.

For the genealogist, dot to dot research is somewhat the same technique. Get in a hurry and you have to start over! Methodically we stay on track, but without a plan we loose our way and have to back track or start over.

Those dots can be connected if you don't rely solely on Internet for resources. While there is a good deal that can be learned and accomplished by using Internet, there is even more waiting for our inquisitive minds. It is very helpful to start this search by making a list of what you know and what you don't know about your ancestor. Where was he or she living at pertinent times such as birth, marriage, birth of children, marriage of children and deaths?

Wh at is available for you to check in those locations during tho se time periods? Are you thinking Internet? Think original documents. These would include vital records, such as marriages, divorces, births, deaths. Those documents will also include land records, probate records, naturalizations, church records, civil and criminal court records and a variety of other miscellaneous records.

Many vital records are being abstracted and placed on Internet. They are helpful and provide clues, but the original records should always be checked. The interpretation by the abstractor may not be accurate. Less likely to be found on Internet are the other types of documents, such as naturalizations, church records, probate records, tax lists and a lot more.

Help is on the way and it starts with Internet. The dots will connect when you go to the web page of the Church of Je sus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Click on the area of "Family History Library System" to search for a Family History Center near you. The information supplied consists of the location, contact telephone if available, and hours they are open.

Once you have determined the location of a Family History Center either in your community or close by, begin preparing a list of items you want to check. Do you need vital records or probate files or land records? The Family History Library in Salt Lake City has over 2.2 million rolls of microfilm which loan through their over 4,000 Family History Centers worldwide. The microfilm can be borrowed and used in the center for a small fee.

Finding information about the microfilm is as easy as a click of the mouse. From the web page,, click on "Family History Library System" to search the Family History Library Catalog. This can be done by place (location), surname, keyword, subject, title, author and by film/fiche number or call number.

A search by place will reveal many of types of records. These normally include topics such as bio graphy, business records, cemeteries, census, church records , court records, genealogy, guardianships, histories, land and property records, maps, military records, minorities or ethnic groups, probate records, public records, taxation records and vital records. In some instances there are more records on microfilm that are specific to the area.

Once you have determined that film is available, copy the information about the film along with the film or fiche number and take it to your Family History Center. The person in charge will advise you as to the cost of the film and order it for your use within the center.

Not everything is on Internet. There is a world of records available through the Family History Library in Salt Lake City and you don't have to go to Utah to use them. Connect the dots by using microfilm available at the Family History Centers.

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