Monday, August 5, 2013

Researching in a strange place? Here's help

Well, all places are strange once you get to know them ;-)  Last week I was interested to find that two friends and colleagues have just published articles on this exact topic: what to do when you're starting off in a locale where you haven't researched before. (Cruising the public library for your surname doesn't count.)

Writing in the NGS Magazine (yet another of the many benefits of being a National Genealogical Society member), Jay Fonkert says: know the geography, learn the history, determine what government kept the records, discover the records, and find other researchers.

Writing at, Kimberly Powell says: get to know the area, learn the jurisdictions, consult local histories, scope out FamilySearch, read the newspaper, and connect with the locals.

Both make the same good basic points, and each has some unique pointers as well. And unless I slept through it, neither one mentioned one of my favorite entry points, Linkpendium.

It looks like I have an obscure Missouri county in my future. I think I'll reread both of these articles.

J. H. Fonkert, "Five tips for starting research in a new locale," NGS Magazine vol. 39 no. 3 (July-September 2013): 29-33.

Kimberly Powell, "Genealogy Research in a New Locality," Genealogy, 30 July 2013 ( : viewed 4 August 2013).

Harold Henderson, "Researching in a strange place? Here's help," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 2 August 2013 ( : viewed [date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]


daearl said...

Another great starting place is the Research Wiki on Familysearch it often contains links to and histories of local municipalities.

Geolover said...

Another quick reference point for the US is the USGenWeb County sites, which often have maps, geopolitical subdivision histories, links to local histories and many other resources - from indexes and transcripts of documents to links to library, governmental, historical and genealogical society information, including websites. With thanks to generous volunteers since 1996.