by Shannon Combs-Bennett, student
Well, color me surprised. You don’t have to have a black sheep ancestor to get a lot out of the course US: Institutional Records. In fact, several of mine and my husband’s ancestors have institutional records. That means you do too! Which, by happy chance, led me to even more records and information on these people.
In Module 1 we covered how to dissect the various US census schedules to learn more about where institutionalized ancestors were. Many researchers forget about the various schedules that were created for the census beyond the population schedule. If you have not explored them you are truly doing a disservice to your research!
From there we moved on to different types of institutions. Many of these places hold different records, but they all include similar types of information. I really have an obsession with jail records. Honestly, I don’t know what it is, but they fascinate me to no end!
From these records, you not only learn about a person’s offence (or repeat offences) but you can also glean data to help with your genealogy research. Beyond the vital information data you can also learn about their last address, what they did while in the clink, and even where they were going upon release. For women, you can often times learn their maiden names.
Another record set that I am delving more into is orphan and poor house records. My husband has a collateral line ancestor who died in the New York City Almshouse in 1920. While he is not a direct line ancestor he had a significant impact on my husband’s family. He is one of those missing link people who I just have to find more information about. Because of this course I was able to learn where the records are located. Now, I just need to get myself up to the municipal archives in New York City.
I hope you are as fascinated as I was about the amount of information you can learn from this course. The records, and how to search for them, really took my research to the next level. I know it will enhance your research too!
On to the next course!!
See you online!