The National Institute for Genealogical Studies

LEADERS IN ONLINE GENEALOGY EDUCATION

The National Institute for Genealogical Studies - LEADERS IN ONLINE GENEALOGY EDUCATION

Some Thoughts On Researching US Occupations

Railroad parts. Baldwin Locomotive Works. Blacksmith and helper forging and hammering tools, March 1937. National Archives and Records Administration. Flickr the Commons.

Railroad parts. Baldwin Locomotive Works. Blacksmith and helper forging and hammering tools, March 1937. National Archives and Records Administration. Flickr the Commons.

Each  individual  researcher’s  quest  to  understand  their  ancestor’s  “life’s work”  will  have  its  own  twists  and  turns. There  is not  one  record  or  one repository  that  will  give  you  all  the  answers. Before you begin your  research using a specific record, have a general idea what might be found in that record.

For  example:  If  you  are  working  in  county  land  records  what  type  of information  would  you  expect  to  find  about  a  person’s  occupation? Here are just a few examples:

  • their stated occupation (i.e: blacksmith, yeoman, trader, etc).
  • location   of   where   they   practiced   this   occupation   (where  they purchased or rented their land).
  • location  of  where  they  last  practiced  their  occupation  (statement  of  a location other than the current county of residence).
  • any partnerships or corporations.
  • where they learned their trade.
  • where they might have acquired their tools.
  • any business difficulties, bankruptcy, sheriff sales, etc.
  • did  they  buy  and  sell  land  repeatedly,  possibly  as  a  means  of  an income (land speculator).

A land record has more to tell than the description of the land, and names of   the  grantee/grantor. You  must  evaluate it  with  a critical eye.

Repositories  are  numerous  and  the following  is  a  short list  of  repositories that you should  be using:

And where are you going to find an occupation listed in these repositories?Just  about  anywhere.  The   following   is   a   list   of   record   types   that   may   be found   in   these repositories:

  • census records
  • vital records
  • land records
  • military records
  • pension records
  • naturalization records
  • directories
  • local histories
  • biographical sketches
  • church records
  • company records
  • social histories
  • correspondence
  • images

At  each  repository,  reference  book,  website  or  record  the  researcher  will often be directed to another repository, reference book, website or record, that  can  offer  more  and  different  information.  The clues,  if  not  stated directly,  are  often  found  in  the  footnotes  and  bibliographical  sections. These new sources can lead you deeper and deeper into a subject. As in all aspects  of  genealogical  research  it  is  important  not  to  overlook  a  clue, resource or opportunity for more information.

To learn more about researching occupations in the United States, please consult our course, US: Occupational Records.

 

Category: Courses

Leave a Reply