Has this ever happened to you? You're taking a look at the ship manifest you saved for your ancestor. You had a hard time finding this manifest because your ancestor's name was so badly transcribed.
Suddenly, you realize there's someone on the first line with a last name you know. You need to see who that person is travelling with.
The people you need to see are on the previous page. How can you find that page online again?
|We collect so many documents. Can you return to where you found them?|
A Shortcut for Difficult Searches
Here are three options:
- Perform a search for someone else on the image you have in front of you. Choose someone whose name is written very clearly, and include the first names of the relatives travelling with them.
- If your relatives' names are written incorrectly, search for the names exactly as they're written.
- If the top of the ship manifest includes the ship name, the arrival date, and the port of arrival, you can search page-by-page through that particular arrival of that ship.
These tips apply to census forms, too. If you can't find the page again by searching for your relative, search for the easiest-to-read name on the page.
And you can use the information on the top of the census sheet to find the collection that will contain that page.
Search in Vain No More
I'm working on a project that will:
- Help me instantly find online any document I've downloaded: a ship manifest, census sheet, draft registration card, etc.
- Allow other genealogists to view my source documents in place, retrace my steps, and see for themselves if my facts can be trusted.
My Family Tree Maker file contains about 2,400 document images. That doesn't count my photographs of people or tombstones.
I'm making my way through each media item, one at a time. I'm adding every important fact and the original web address of the image to its notes.
|This annotation lets me—or anyone—return to the original file easily.|
I started with census forms. I try to stick to a format that includes:
- the lines numbers on which you'll find the family from my tree
- the town, county and state
- the enumeration district, supervisor's district, assembly district, block number, page or sheet number
- the number of the image in the collection, such as image 2 of 45
- the URL of the original file so I—or other researchers—can return to it
It's an ambitious project. I completed all 623 of my census images before I realized I should include the image number and the web address. So now I'm going through them again, finding each one online to record those two facts. I'm up to 1930, so I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Next I'll annotate my 332 ship manifests. Then my 563 birth, marriage, and death records. But I have tons of downloaded Italian vital records I haven't yet added to my tree!
It takes a special kind of devotion to fortify your family tree and make it the best it can be.
But I'm trying.