Southeastern Colorado Genealogical Society
Twenty Eight Places Where Your Family's Facts May Hide
Most everyone who's been researching their family history a while seem to have exhausted all of the traditional birth, marriage and death record locations. Researchers are now looking elsewhere for alternative sources to help find those elusive genealogical and historical facts. Below are a few suggestions – in random order where some of this information MIGHT be found:
- Check between the pages of family Bibles for newspaper clippings, obituaries, greeting cards, etc.
- If at all possible ALWAYS visit the Cemetery Office where ancestors are buried – those cemetery records/logs CAN contain information not available elsewhere. These records can predate death records/certificates.
- Try to find your parents' address book or perhaps the address book of another relative to find the location of other family members.
- Search professional organizations' websites as well as clubs, trade unions, fraternity/sorority sites.
- Google your ancestor's name on the internet. It may surprise you the information that you find.
- Check the old photographs for names and locations of photographic studios.
- Some family members might have used an old book as a scrapbook – look hard for these because they are invaluable treasures.
- Always check the Periodical Source Index (PERSI) to locate articles about your ancestors, the areas they lived, and the cemeteries, churches, and mortuaries of that area.
- Check area cemetery lot deeds – the local county clerk or recorder of deeds can help you locate the right cemetery and even the specific family lot.
- Family jewelry might be a source – check for engravings – initials and dates could be a source.
- Insurance policies and premium notices may contain the names and birth dates of family members and even beneficiaries.
- ANY old letter or postcard you can find from family members should be collected, arranged chronologically, and read for names, dates, and personal events. The envelopes can yield the return address or at least the postmark will give you a clue.
- Special Collections materials in local college, university and local libraries might contain THAT clue.
- Any old paperwork: cancelled checks, tax bills, lawyers' letters, church bulletins, social club newsletters – can all hold a key to that elusive information that you seek.
- School records can hold a wealth of information: student's date of birth, parents/guardians' names, addresses, etc.
- Annuals and yearbooks may contain biographical information, not only on students, but faculty as well.
- Alumni organizations may have a current or at least last-known address for family members who attended that school.
- ALWAYS check with the probate department in the area you are researching. Probate packets contain the names, addresses, and status (dead or alive) of all name beneficiaries/heirs of an estate.
- Census records often have the clue to find YOUR family member. Simply look for the siblings of your direct ancestor. This oft times leads to more family and more clues.
- If baby books are available (and have been filled in) they are a valuable source of family information plus they may contain photos.
- Check for out of print local/county/state histories. These often contain family stories and biographies of many families – one of which could be YOURS.
- Guardianship records can contain a lot of information: child's date of birth, names and dates of birth/and death of parents, surviving family members and guardianship arrangements.
- World War I and World War II draft registration cards contain a wealth of information. IF your elusive family member was a male and alive in the right time period, don't overlook this important source of information.
- Alien registrations were required to be completed at various times in US history, especially between 1798 and 1828, during WW1, WW2, and since.
- Tombstones often have the initials or a mark inscribed on them – usually near the base – that identifies the person or business that did the work. Business records and client files may still exist, including correspondence, work orders, invoices, etc.
- Voter registration cards – if available – contain name, address, age, and sometime indicate proof of citizenship for naturalized citizens.
- Oaths of alliance for southern males were required to reinstate their US citizenship after the Civil War, and to permit the men to vote in elections. These can help you locate the person in the post-war years. They are typically found in state archives or libraries.
- Ethnic and foreign language newspapers may provide information about your ancestors and their families, including births, engagements, marriages, deaths, and other events.
Southeastern Colorado Genealogical Society, Inc.
P.O. Box 1407
Pueblo, CO 81002
Our monthly meetings are held on the first Saturday of the month with a Genealogical Studies class at 12:30 pm to 2:00 pm
and our Program from 2:00 pm - 3:00 PM
You do not have to be a member to attend - Everyone is welcome.
Call 719-250-5782 for more information or to schedule a ride.