Doh, I fell behind a bit and have to play catch up! Here is week 14 of 52 for the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks genealogy blogging challenge! April’s overall theme and this week’s theme is “check it out.” I wanted to share a few places I have checked out or have used for my research, besides Ancestry.com or FamilySearch.org.
My family members originally settled in southern Dodge County, Wisconsin. So this genealogical society in Watertown, Wisconsin, has A LOT of information that has been helpful. I have visited them once a few years ago, and I found some of the local church records with my Frederick ancestors in them. They also have a Facebook page where they try to give back unidentified photographs to anyone that can be identified. I actually snagged an old family photo this way! They are a great resource if you have family in either Dodge or Jefferson counties here in Wisconsin.
I’ve never actually been to this library, but my mother has! She has done some research there, and she managed to find my x2 great-grandparents’ obits published in the Dodge County Pioneer–formerly a German newspaper in Dodge County. They have a lot of genealogical information and tools available. I would like to make a trip there to do more research.
The Wisconsin Historical Society has an AWESOME way of storing and sharing its massive collections. Wisconsin is divided into 14 regions. Thirteen of the regions have what is called an Area Research Center (ARC), and the Wisconsin Historical Society serves one region. Each one of these regions houses government and non-government records for the local area—some regions are comprised of several counties. The best part is, is that all of the ARCs can share records. Yes, they will bring the records to your closest ARC! That is such an amazing resource to have! I have personally gone to my local ARC, Polk Library Archives at UW-Oshkosh, and I was able to find my x2 great-grandfather’s will! With help from an archivist at the Wisconsin Historical Society, I was able to find my x2 great-grandfather on the Ag Schedule of the 1880 US Census. You can search just that ARC’s holdings, or you can search the whole system. It’s for sure worth checking out!
Local historical societies can be a great source and have a wealth of information. The Lebanon Historical Society helped me put some more pieces together of my family history. My ancestral folks lived in that area, and some of their records are in that little historical society. They shared some voting records from 1928 that had my great-grandma on the poll list. THAT was a great find. It proved that she had a chance to vote before she died in 1936. Find out where your ancestors were from, and see if there is a local historical society that might have something. If they don’t, what a great opportunity to make sure your family history is preserved by either donating or making copies for them to store!
One of my cousins introduced me to a few resources in the old country. These have been such a boon to our historical research. We’ve literally scrolled through, clicked through, and painstakingly read through THOUSANDS of documents from where our ancestors originated from. We’ve obliterated brick walls this way. Yes, sometimes there can be some language barriers, but we live in an area where there are so many tools at our disposal–translating tools, forums, social media, etc. You just have to make it work. I suggest joining Facebook groups to help get you acquainted with resources from other countries. You might find that something that little nugget of info to knock down your brick walls.