Photograph family record of Henry Curtis and family

Chart after repairs and cleaning

This remarkably complete “Photograph Family Chart” shows the parents and children of Henry Curtis and Elizabeth Bever. The chart was created by J. Boller Sexington and is not dated. Although many examples of charts similar to this exist in libraries and private collections, this chart is unique in that every photograph slot is filled. The decorative elements on the chart are a mix of watercolors and ink.

This chart recently underwent minor repairs in the library’s conservation lab to clean the chart itself as well as straighten the photographs. As seen in this before photo, many of the images had moved with time and been reattached with tape. Also, the top edge of the chart had sustained several tears.

Back of chart before repairs

In order to repair the chart, all the photographs had to be removed. Once removed, the photographer’s marks as well as background details in the images were revealed.  These details provided more information about the family, but sadly, most people were not identified. The photographs are a mix of tintypes and albumen prints, primarily from photographers in Illinois. Some were cut down to better fit in the chart.

Selected images from the chart

Once the chart was cleaned and repaired, the photographs were remounted – without tape! – and realigned. The chart is now available to researchers in the Genealogy Division of the Indiana State Library.

Curtis family in the 1860 Census.  Illinois.  Tazewell County. 1860 U.S. Census, population schedule. NARA microfilm publication M653, roll 232. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Record Administration, n.d.

Further research on the Curtis family revealed that Henry was born in New York, while Elizabeth was born in Ohio. They married in 1838 in Fountain County, Indiana, and lived in Indiana until about 1850, when they moved to Illinois. They eventually settled in Tazewell County, Illinois, where most of the photographs were taken. Since many of the photographs are unlabeled, they images may be of Henry and Elizabeth’s children, or they may be of later members of the Curtis family.

As named on the photographic chart, Henry and Elizabeth’s children were: Henry, Martha, Michael, Hiram, Margaret, Phebe, Mary, Thomas and Emily. Henry was the son of Joseph Curtis and Martha Mattison and Elizabeth was the daughter of Michael Bever and Margaret Zumwalt.

This blog post is by Jamie Dunn, Genealogy Division supervisor.

Reading outside the genealogy box

Genealogist and family researchers often use indices, original records or newspapers, in their quest to complete a family tree. However, there are a lot of books of interest to genealogists for the pure enjoyment of the subject. These books might not help locate an ancestor but they will inspire a love of family history research and perhaps get a researcher excited about researching again after taking a break.

With this thought in mind, I decided to buy a few books that are related to the subject of genealogy but were not research materials. When I look for books to purchase to help genealogists research I often come across books that look really interesting, but not super helpful to researchers. Then I started to think outside of the box of traditional research materials.

Perhaps you are stuck in rut with nothing exciting or interesting to read. Well, now is the time to read outside of the box and take a look at some books that might inspire you.  The Genealogy Division of the Indiana State Library now has a small circulating collection for you to check out. These new purchases are kept in the Genealogy Division as part of the display called “Reading Outside The Box.” We are asking you to read outside the genealogy box and give these books a chance. We think you might like them and find them interesting.

The books featured in this blog, “Queen Victoria’s Gene: Haemophilia and the Royal Family” by D.M. Potts and W.T.W. Potts, “Roots Quest: Inside America’s Genealogy Boom” by Jackie Hogan and “The New York Times Book of the Dead: 320 Print and 10,000 Digital Obituaries of Extraordinary People,” are currently in our collection and available for check out via Evergreen.

This blog post was written by Crystal Ward, librarian in the genealogy department. If you would like more information, please contact the genealogy department at (317) 232-3689. 

Tips, tricks and mobile apps… oh my!

There’s a plethora of mobile apps available these days that can be of great benefit in your genealogy research. Here are just a few suggestions recommended by professional genealogists. This list is by no means exhaustive. Have fun picking and choosing which apps will work best for you!

All things note taking, organization and management

The Notes app on your iPhone, iPad and iPod touch allows you to quickly write a thought manually or ask Siri to start a note. You can also create a checklist, format a note, add attachments, add a photo or video, pin a note and scan and sign documents.  You can use iCloud to update your notes on all of your devices. Access Apple Support here for tips and instructions on using the different features of Notes. Available only on Apple iOS.

Google Keep is compatible with iPhone and Android. It is pre-installed on most Android devices with the Google services enabled. You can take quick notes, make lists, standard checklists, pin notes, color code notes, use voice notes, share notes, set reminders and it syncs with your Google account, thus syncing across devices. Available on both Apple iOS and Android.

Evernote can handle all types of notes including typed text, audio, photos, videos, content from websites and a lot more. Imagine finding a great article or document about an ancestor on the internet; it can easily be saved with Evernote. You can save parts and even full pages from the internet. Evernote is free if using it on one or two devices. If you need to use Evernote on more than two devices, or upload more than 60 MB a month, there is a paid plan available. Available on both Apple iOS and Android.

Trello is a free project management app that makes it easy to organize, write, collaborate and deal with task management. It uses customizable boards, lists and cards to help with organization and visualization of everything on which you’re working. You can upload photos, videos and files to share. Trello lets you add power-ups like apps of calendars, Evernote, DropBox and so much more. Available on both Apple iOS and Android.

GedView “is a viewer and recording tool for your genealogy database when you are out and about researching local records, or visiting locations such as graveyards looking for information. It acts as a way to quickly check up on family relationships, dates and locations of events, sources of information and view your notes, or record newly found information while out researching. You can either build your tree directly on your device, or can import a GEDCOM file from any genealogy application/service.” Available only on Apple iOS.
Price: $4.99

Google Drive comes with 15GB of free storage space. You can have all of your files within reach across your devices. “All your files in Drive – like your videos, photos and documents – are backed up safely so you can’t lose them. Easily invite others to view, edit or leave comments on any of your files or folders.” Available on both Apple iOS and Android.

A Drop Box Basic account is free and includes 2 GB of space. You can also earn more space on your Dropbox Basic account. Using Dropbox is like using any folder on your hard drive but the files you put into Dropbox will automatically sync online and to any other devices linked to your account. DropBox can be used as a backup for your documents, photos, etc. Available on both Apple iOS and Android.

All things about researching records of ancestors and creating a family tree

Genealogy research apps are a fantastic way to do research on-the-go. The following free apps are highly-recommended:

Ancestry
FamilySearch Tree
FamilySearch Memories
My Heritage

For those not familiar with these apps, Family Tree Magazine recently covered the basics regarding the use of the apps. The article can be read here. All apps are available on both Apple iOS and Android.

All things photo, video and audio

Google Photos allows for basic photo editing. Google Photos uses facial recognition as opposed to tags. Photos are organized by date so they are easily found by using the timeline. You can create photo books and albums, which are shareable. You have unlimited cloud storage of photos less than 16 megapixels and video shot at 1080p or lower. If you need to store larger images or higher resolution video, you can do this for a fee. Google Photos is also a great app to use for backing up your photos. Available on both Apple iOS and Android.

PhotoScan by Google Photos is another free app that allows you to scan those old family photos and documents you may come across unexpectedly. The app takes four images of an item and “stitches” the four images together to give you a composite image that is comparable to an image you would get using a flatbed scanner. Google touts that PhotoScan can “create enhanced digital scans, with automatic edge detection, perspective correction and smart rotation.” Available on both Apple iOS and Android.

CamScanner is a mobile scanner that makes it easy to scan, archive and share anytime and anywhere. This app has the ability to auto enhance images and to perform auto edge cropping. It also features optical character recognition (OCR) and supports syncing between your devices. Available on both Apple iOS and Android.

Adobe Photoshop Fix is extremely helpful to use with those old family photos that might need some restoration. The spot heal tool will correct small blemishes and a clone stamp tool will fix larger or more serious image problems. There is also a smooth tool to use when there is graininess in a photo. A variety of editing tools can be found in the adjust tool. Available on both Apple iOS and Android.

Storypix allows you to create a video with audio narration from one or several photos. You can also add scenes, use the zoom function and add text captions to enhance your story. Your new video is also shareable. Available on both Apple iOS and Android.

Adobe Spark is a free graphic design app that allows you to create web pages, video stories and exciting graphics. With graphics you can add text and apply design filters to your photo. With web pages you can assemble words and images into beautiful web stories. Video stories allows you to easily add photos, video clips, icons and your own voice. Available only on Apple iOS.

All things miscellaneous

Find A Grave is the world’s largest grave site collection. “Find the graves of ancestors, create virtual memorials or add photos, virtual flowers and a note to a loved one’s memorial.” This app allows you to search or browse cemeteries and grave records looking for ancestors. Available on both Apple iOS and Android.

Billion Graves is an interactive app for genealogists all over the world. “The goal of BillionGraves is to create digital maps of every cemetery near you.” If you want to participate, “collect photos and map out your entire local cemetery or just portions of it. Others can see what you’ve mapped and use your work as research. In turn, you can access the locations and information for graves other people have mapped. Within this app, you can collect photos of headstones around you and upload the photos. The more people who map grave sites, the more easily future genealogists can find the ancestors they’re looking for.” Available on both Apple iOS and Android.

Pinterest is described by its CEO as a “catalog of ideas” or a visual search engine. “It is part search engine, part organization tool, and part social media site…” Here is a great article from Family History Daily titled, “Why You Should Start Using Pinterest for Genealogy Right Now (and How to Do It).” Available on both Apple iOS and Android.

“For your digital book and document collection, the app Book Crawler is a helpful tool for research and organizing. Book Crawler is a great tool to gather information about sources such as author, publication and publish dates that may be hard to find. Within this app, you can log, search and organize publications. The built-in ISBN scan can record bar codes of any books you may be interested in at a bookstore or library. Book Crawler can access your local library’s database to check the availability of books you want to check out. But at its soul, this app can help you view and organize your collection.” Available only on Apple iOS.

Google Translate is great for family history. You use your phone’s camera to hover over text in a foreign language or you can take a picture of the text. Google Translate will translate and write out the text for you in your language of choice. It can translate between more than 100 languages. You can also translate entire websites. Available on both Apple iOS and Android.

Google Earth lets you explore the world from above with satellite imagery, showing 3-D buildings in hundreds of cities and 3-D terrain of the whole earth. Take a look at the towns where your ancestors originated. Available on both Apple iOS and Android.

Feel free to share any other mobile genealogy apps that you find helpful.

This blog post was written by Alice Winslow, librarian, Genealogy Division of the Indiana State Library.

Real ID and Indiana marriage records

In 2013, the federal government issued minimum standards of documentation required for individuals to obtain a state-issued ID or driver’s license. These standards were known as Real ID. The standards have been phased in over time, but beginning in October 2020, Real ID-compliant identification will be required for certain activities, such as boarding an airplane or entering a federal building. For more information on Real ID, check out these articles from the Department of Homeland Security and the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

Included in the list of required documents to obtain a Real ID is documentation of legal name changes. This includes name change due to marriage. So, if you changed your name when you got married, you will need to provide a certified copy of your marriage license when renewing your ID. This includes all marriages, even if you are now divorced.

Photo courtesy of the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

If you do not have a certified copy of your marriage license, you can obtain one from the Clerk of Court’s office in the county where you obtained your marriage license. In Indiana, only the county clerk’s offices are able to provide certified copies.

If you do not remember where you obtained your marriage license or if you have contacted the county and they cannot find the record, you can search for your post-1958 Indiana marriage license in several places, depending on the year of marriage.  The Indiana State Library’s Indiana Legacy database includes the “Indiana Marriages, 1958-2017” index. As the title suggests, this index contains all marriage licenses issued in Indiana between 1958 and 2017, including the names of both parties, the marriage date, and the county that issued the license. This database does contain some known OCR issues, so if you find an error in a record, please let us know so we can correct it.

For marriages that took place between 1993 and the present, you can also check the Indiana Supreme Court Division of State Court Administration’s Marriage License Public Lookup. This database is updated regularly and includes marriages as recent as two weeks ago.

If you have an Ancestry.com account or if your local public library has Ancestry Library Edition, you can also search the Indiana Marriages, 1917-2005 database, which contains full scans of Indiana marriage records from the Indiana State Archives. Be aware that this database’s title is somewhat misleading, as the scans actually cover 1961-2005.

Unfortunately, there is not a statewide index to Indiana marriages pre-1958. The most complete sources are on FamilySearch, the Indiana Marriages, 1780-1992 and Indiana Marriages, 1811-2007 databases. These databases are free for you to use at home, but you will need to create an account.

If you are having trouble locating your marriage license through these resources, please contact the Indiana State Library Genealogy Division at 317-232-3689 or Ask-A-Librarian.

This blog post is by Jamie Dunn, Genealogy Division supervisor.

Citing archival resources

When researching for a project, it is vital to record the collections one is researching and all pertinent information for them. This is important, not only for citing your sources and the integrity of your work, but also in case you need to view the material again throughout the course of your research. Record the information below:

  • Institution
  • Collection title
  • Collection name
  • Series name and number (if applicable)
  • Box, folder, and/or volume/item number

Information about the document itself:

  • Creator or author
  • Title
  • Recipient (if applicable)
  • Date
  • Page number (if applicable)

Below are examples using collections at the Indiana State Library. Be sure to maintain consistency in your citation style whether it is based on your preference or a professor’s preference. Any information that isn’t available by looking at the folder or box your materials are in would be discoverable in the finding aid for the collection. You can find the finding aid by searching for your collection in the manuscripts catalog.

Chicago Manual of Style
Joe Rand Beckett letter to members of Battery D, December 1967, S0091, Joe Rand Beckett collection, 1917-1969, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library.

Modern Language Association
Beckett, Joe Rand. Letter to members of Battery D. December 1967. S0091, Joe Rand Beckett collection, 1917-1969. Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library, Indianapolis.

American Psychological Association
Beckett, J. R. (1967, December). [Letter to members of Battery D]. Joe Rand Beckett collection, 1917-1969 Rare Books and Manuscripts (S0091), Indiana State Library, Indianapolis, IN.

For resources viewed online, you would complete the citation as above and add the access URL at the end.

Chicago Manual of Style
A.E.F. Y.M.C.A. Movement order, 13 January 1919, L359, Box 1, Folder 2, Franklin Newton Taylor papers, 1896-1963, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library. http://cdm16066.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/p16066coll47/id/484/rec/3

Modern Language Association
A.E.F. Y.M.C.A. Movement order. 13 January 1919. L359, Franklin Newton Taylor papers, 1896-1963. Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library, Indianapolis. http://cdm16066.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/p16066coll47/id/484/rec/3

American Psychological Association
A.E.F. Y.M.C.A. (1919, January 13). [Movement order]. L359, Franklin Newton Taylor papers, 1896-1963. Rare Books and Manuscripts (Box 1, Folder 2), Indiana State Library, Indianapolis, IN. http://cdm16066.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/p16066coll47/id/484/rec/3

You may need to consult the guides for your citation style to verify how to cite additional information, such as page numbers, or different kind of archival resources, such as diaries or photographs. Find out more by using the websites below or conducting your own web searches.

Chicago Manual of Style
Modern Language Association
American Psychological Association

The Purdue Online Writing Lab also has wonderful resources and guides.

You can also ask a librarian for assistance with citing your resources while doing your research or using QuestionPoint.

This blog post was written by Lauren Patton, Rare Books and Manuscripts librarian, Indiana State Library. For more information, contact the Indiana State Library at 317-232-3678 or “Ask-A-Librarian.”

Horne family collection

Edwin Fletcher Horne Sr. (1859-1939) was an African-American journalist who helmed the newspaper Chattanooga Justice and was politically active throughout the late 19th century. Prior to his time in Chattanooga, he resided and taught school in Indiana, living in both Evansville and Indianapolis. While in Indiana, he became a supporter of then Senator Benjamin Harrison. In 1887 he married Cora Calhoun (1865-1932), a college-educated and civically-minded woman from a prominent Atlanta family.

Faced with segregation and increasing racial violence in the South, the couple and their family eventually relocated to Brooklyn, New York where they thrived in the upper echelons of New York’s Black social elite. Cora was a distinguished community leader who was heavily involved in numerous clubs and charities. Edwin eventually finished his career as a fire inspector for the New York Fire Department.

Edwin and Cora Horne around the time of their marriage.

Together they had four children. Through their son Edwin “Teddy” Fletcher Horne Jr. (1893-1970), Edwin and Cora were the grandparents of legendary jazz singer and civil rights activist Lena Horne (1917-2010).

From inscription on back of photo: “Easter 1928, Uncle ‘Bye’ and Little Lena.”

The Indiana State Library’s Horne Family Collection (L327) contains numerous photographs of the family, newspaper clippings concerning Edwin’s career and various correspondence including a letter from Benjamin Harrison dated 1884 which indicates that Harrison was considering a run for the presidency of the United States. Harrison eventually would be elected in 1888. Also among the documents are Cora’s passport, souvenir travel mementos and letters she wrote home while on a lengthy trip to Europe in the late 1920s.

The entire collection provides extraordinary insight into a remarkable and influential African-American family.

Lena Horne on the cover of The Crisis, the official magazine of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

To view the collection or for more information, please contact the Rare Books and Manuscripts Division.

This blog post was written by Jocelyn Lewis, Catalog Division supervisor, Indiana State Library. For more information, contact the Indiana State Library at 317-232-3678 or “Ask-A-Librarian.”

Genealogy for kids

Are you looking for a fun, meaningful and ongoing activity you can do with your children? Here’s an idea the whole family will enjoy and it just might turn into a lifelong adventure! Why not get the family involved in some genealogy research by connecting your children to their grandparents, great grandparents and other ancestors down the line?

First of all, it is best to define genealogy in easy to understand terms. It’s the story of the family members that came before them. Explain that these people are their ancestors. Genealogy entails tracing back your family lines and studying your family history and family relationships. It is the story of where they lived, who they married and how many children they had. Genealogy can begin with a search for the vital records of ancestors. These records include the dates and places of birth, marriage and death. Ask children why these might be called vital records and why they are considered so important.

Ask your children, “If you want to discover your own genealogy and family history, who do you think you should start with?” Should you start with grandparents? Parents? Of course, they should begin with themselves because they know the most about themselves. It is also logical to start with themselves to be able to see how they connect to other family members down the line. A packet, “My Journal: All About Me,” can be accessed here. Finding out facts and other information about you and your family involves research and a good researcher should gather the appropriate supplies to help them be successful. They will need a notebook or paper and pencil to write down the information they find. A folder will come in handy to hold the notebook and any papers. Some optional items might include a computer, a camera or a video or audio recording device. The linked packet also contains helpful definitions related to genealogy and helpful websites and books. A list of starter questions to ask family members is included in the above mentioned packet. Children should also be encouraged to come up with some of their own questions to ask about the things they would like to know regarding their family members.

Kids will have fun answering questions about themselves and recording the information. Once they have answered the basic questions about birth date and where they were born, they can then delve a little deeper with answering questions like, “My name was chosen for me because…” or “I was named after…”

Their next steps will involve asking questions about parents. It’s important for children to know that it’s okay if they are not able to find out information about a parent or grandparent. It’s good to emphasize that everyone has one or more “holes” in their family genealogy that can’t be filled in at the moment. Some searches for family members can be ongoing for many years. Encourage children to just continue on with the family members they do have information about.

Now it is time to move on to gathering information about grandparents. Sometimes a visual chart can help children understand the connections between themselves and their parents and grandparents. Explain that maternal grandparents are the parents of the mother. This is easy to remember with the “ma” at the beginning of the word maternal, as in your “ma.” The paternal grandparents are the parents of the father. This is easy to remember with the “pa” at the beginning of the word paternal, as in your “pa.”

A very basic beginning family tree example.

By learning about grandparents and understanding what their lives were like, children learn and understand more about themselves and their immediate family. Hopefully, children will discover that they share some of the same traits, characteristics and talents that a grandparent might have. Helping children see similarities and connections will make it fun and relevant for everyone.

An interesting project that children will enjoy is gathering pictures of family members at approximately the same age and making comparisons between the family members.

A baby picture comparison of a grandfather, two of his children and three of his grandchildren.

As mentioned before, the linked packet has a list of suggested questions to ask. Questions such as “What kinds of games did you play?,” “What part of childhood do you think most about now?,” “How is the world different today than it was when you were growing up?” and “What is the most important thing that has happened to you?”

At this point, much information has been gathered. The concept of a family tree or pedigree chart can now be introduced. Some people show their family history using a family tree or a pedigree chart, which are diagrams of the members of a family. With each of these, lines are used to show how people are related. For example, the lines show people who are married or have children. There is an unlimited variety of family tree and pedigree chart templates that can be downloaded for free from the internet.

Example of a family tree.

Example of a pedigree chart.

For older children, you can now add in a discussion and some research about the immigration of ancestors. With the subject of immigration currently in the news daily, there could be some great discussions about immigration in the past and present. Ask about the connections between immigration and genealogy. Probe a bit and ask what they think are some of the causes for people immigrating in the past and now. Perhaps life may have become too difficult in their native country. It could be because of lack of means for earning an income and needing to live in a place where there would be better work opportunities available. Immigrants come because of violence, war or religious persecution in their native country. They may come looking for a better life and future for themselves and their children. They may come to join other family members that came before them.

For many of us, all of our long ago ancestors were immigrants to North America at some point in time, with the exception of those who are full-blooded Native Americans. The immigration story of each of our ancestors is part of each person’s family history. It can be powerful for children to learn about their ancestors’ struggles and stories of survival.

It’s important to ask children questions before, during and after their research. It will help deepen their critical thinking skills. Bloom’s taxonomy of learning progresses from remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating and creating. Helping children engage in higher level thinking skills will help them develop into stronger learners and critical thinkers.

Here are just a few example questions that could be asked:

  • How can I connect this information to my own life? How are my ancestors similar; dissimilar?
  • What would you do if you lived in another country in 1800 and could not find a job to support and take care of your family? Explain your answer.
  • Why do you think your ancestors settled in a particular region or city? Explain.

I hope these tips will help you engage your children and family by facilitating a personal connection to learning about your family’s past. I also encourage you and your family to check out the genealogy titles for kids featured throughout this blog post. You can find the titles and authors by clicking on the pictures.

This blog post was written by Alice Winslow, librarian, Genealogy Division. For more information, contact the Indiana State Library Genealogy Division at (317) 232-3689.

INSPIRE turns 20!

Can you believe it’s been 20 years since INSPIRE was born? Here are a few other highlights of 1998:

  • Google was founded in Menlo Park, California.
  • “E.R.” was the most popular TV show, followed by “Friends.”
  • The song “The  Boy is Mine” by Brandy and Monica was number one for 13 weeks on the Billboard charts.
  • A gallon of gas was $1.15.
  • Windows 98 debuted in June.
  • The Ford Cougar was first produced.
  • Harry Caray died Feb. 18.
  • The band Coldplay formed.

In January of 1998, INSPIRE began as a collaboration between the Indiana State Library, INCOLSA and Lilly Endowments. INSPIRE is a free service for all Indiana residents. Users can access INSPIRE via the internet at school, home, local public library or workplace.

INSPIRE it… don’t Google! Okay, so maybe that’s not quite as catchy as saying “Google it,” but using INSPIRE is your best bet when looking for articles, biographies, history and other resources. Information in INSPIRE databases is vetted and authoritative, so you can rest-assured that you’re getting reliable information and not something that can be manipulated. Did I mention INSPIRE is free!? Tomorrow, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Indiana State Library, we celebrate INSPIRE with stories about INSPIRE, learning and networking at INSPIRE Day. Here’s to another 20 years and beyond!

This blog post was written by Kimberly Brown-Harden, northwest regional coordinator, Indiana State Library. For more information, email Kim.

Dealing with difficult ancestors: Tips and tricks for finding those elusive family members

Sometimes in genealogy research, the pieces just don’t come together. No one seems to be living where you expect them to be, records have gone missing and you just can’t make any connections between generations.

Although not exhaustive, this guide introduces some search techniques that may help you find those elusive ancestors.

Write down everything you know about the person.

Writing down his or her life events in chronological order shows where you may have gaps in your research, such as census records you have not yet found. A timeline also suggests places to look for additional records if your ancestor lived through a war or other major historical event. Noting the places where your ancestor lived provides clues to the geographic area where your ancestor’s parents may be found.

Filling in those three missing censuses may well hold the key to John Whittaker’s family. Note the place of birth as Pennsylvania, meaning John’s parents lived there at some point. Also note the biographical details of marriage in a Catholic church and burial in an Independent Order of Odd Fellows cemetery.

Don’t just note places of residence. Fill in social details such as religious affiliation, political affiliation, club and society membership and other details you may know about your ancestor. These details will be useful later.

Looking at your timeline, information such as your ancestor’s birth date and place provides indirect details about his or her parents. For example, the place of birth tells you where the family was living at the time, while the date of birth tells you the minimum likely age of the parents.

Look at the pre-1850 censuses.

1840 United States Federal Census. Greene County, Tennessee. Accessed July 9, 2018. Ancestry Library Edition.

The early censuses are often overlooked because they do not provide the level of detail of later censuses. However, these records are not completely unhelpful to genealogists. If your ancestor was old enough to be an adult in these censuses, look for him or her.  Women in the pre-1850 censuses are more difficult to find, as they were not often heads of households, but they do turn up occasionally.

If your ancestor was still a child in 1840 or earlier, if you know where he or she was living in 1850 or if you know where he or she lived as a child, search the censuses in that area for individuals with the same last name. Try tracing those individuals to the 1850 census or later to see if they could be related to your ancestor. Also look at the family composition of the various households with your ancestor’s surname in the early censuses to see if there is a male or female of the appropriate age.

Make sure you have found all relevant censuses.

If you are trying to connect your ancestor to his or her parents, do not look at censuses in which he or she is a child only. Sometimes elderly parents lived with their adult children, so you may be able to find the parents there. Also depending on the census, you may find further clues concerning your ancestor beyond just age and place of birth.

Trace the siblings of your ancestor and their descendants.

Jacob Myers family tree. Ancestry.com user casvelyn. Accessed July 9, 2018. Ancestry Library Edition.

Sometimes the siblings of your ancestor provide more detailed information than your ancestor with regard to parentage. Maybe a younger sibling had a death certificate, whereas your ancestor died too early. Perhaps one or both of the parents are living with a sibling in later censuses. Another sibling’s family could have written a more detailed obituary. Looking at the siblings’ birth information can also provide evidence for other places your ancestor’s family may have lived, particularly if the family moved frequently.

Look in the county records where your ancestor lived throughout his or her life.

County records such as wills, probates, deeds and court records are full of direct and implied relationships. Will and probate records outline what happened to a person’s property after he or she died. Although many people did not write a will, most owned enough property to have the estate go through the probate process. If your ancestor died young, he or she may have left property to his or her parents. Otherwise, looking at wills and probates for individuals with your ancestor’s surname may help you to find his or her parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles or siblings.

Will of Philip Erbaugh. Clerk of Court, Miami County, Indiana, Vol. 8, p. 66. Accessed July 9, 2018. Family Search.

Deed records do not always name the relationship between the seller and the buyer, but there are some family clues to be found. If someone sells a piece of property for $1 or “for love and affection,” there is a good chance of a family relationship between the individuals.

Criminal and civil court records may note familial relationships if someone sued other members of his or her family or if a family member testified at a trial or helped to pay bail or fines. Court records are rarely indexed by the names of all involved, just the plaintiffs and defendants, so looking at cases involving individuals with the same surname as your ancestor may be necessary.

Check county histories.

Eli H. Dunn. “History of Knox and Daviess County, Indiana.” Chicago: Goodspeed, 1886.

Most county histories contain a section of brief biographies of local residents. Even those that do not usually contain information on early or prominent residents of the area. These biographical sketches provide many details about your ancestor’s life, including spouses, children, parents, career, education and social affiliations. Many county histories are available online through sites such as Google Books, Internet Archive and Hathi Trust.

Look at newspapers.

Rushville Republican, September 30, 1959, p. 8. Accessed July 9, 2018. Newspaper Archive.

As more and more newspapers are digitized and indexed, it is easier than ever to search the newspapers for your ancestor. Through newspapers, you may be able to find an obituary or death notice for your ancestor. You also may be able to find articles about religious or social affiliations. For example, if your ancestor attended a Methodist church picnic or helped out at a Masonic Lodge fish fry, he may have been a member of that church or fraternal organization. Depending on the area, newspapers may also contain information about vacations, hospital stays, weddings, funerals and many other everyday aspects of your ancestor’s life that cannot be found anywhere else.

Check online trees.

Looking at family trees that other researchers have posted online can help you to see if you have overlooked anything in your research. Try to use trees that have citations so you know where the person got their information. If the trees do not have citations, but do contain new information, think about sources that might provide that information and check them to see if you can find proof.

There are many websites where individuals can post family trees, so you may need to check more than one to find new information about your ancestor. Simply searching for “[ancestor name] family tree” or “[surname] family tree” can find many trees that are publicly available.

This blog post is by Jamie Dunn, genealogy librarian. For more information, contact the Genealogy Division at (317) 232-3689 or send us a question through Ask-a-Librarian.

Indiana State Library helps create headstone for Civil War veteran

In April, a staff member at the Mount Hope Cemetery in Topeka, Kansas contacted the Indiana State Library with a special request: In 1916, a Union Civil War veteran from Indiana had been laid to rest without a headstone and they were seeking out information in order to provide one for him.

It became my task to compile as much information as I could on the deceased, Thomas J. Raybell, in order to ensure a proper and accurate headstone.

I set to work on researching Raybell, first verifying his full name: Thomas Jefferson Raybell. I also researched his vital statistics. He was born in 1846, most likely in Miami County, Indiana and died June 22, 1916 in Topeka, Kansas. Ancestry.com is a great resource for finding this kind of information. Although, you do need to know the person’s name and have an idea of where they were born, lived, or died and/or a ballpark of those dates; especially if the name is common.

Photo credit Fred Holroyd

Discerning his regiment and company was more difficult. In order to determine and verify his regiment, I cross-checked a combination of the muster rolls, the military records at the Indiana Archives and Records Administration and the Civil War Index website. Eventually, I was able to confirm that Raybell enlisted in Peru, Indiana, serving in Company F of the 109th. This was more difficult in part because the 109th was only in service for seven days in July of 1863! The 109th was organized to combat Morgan’s Raid, an incursion by the Confederate cavalry into Northern states by Captain John Hunt Morgan. They used two captured steamboats in order to cross the Ohio River and there was a battle in Corydon before the raiders moved toward the Ohio border. In the end, federal troops captured Morgan’s raiders in southeastern Ohio.

I’m proud to say that thanks to Fred Holroyd at the Mount Hope Cemetery, the Sons of Union Veterans Topeka and in a small part, the Indiana State Library—Thomas J. Raybell’s headstone has been created and will be installed after 102 years. I hope this gives a small snapshot into what archivists can do!

This blog post was written by Lauren Patton, Rare Books and Manuscripts librarian, Indiana State Library. For more information, contact the Indiana State Library at (317) 232-3678 or “Ask-A-Librarian.”