Roots and branches |

Roots and branches

Question: I have checked the common records such as birth, death, marriage and census for an ancestor, what are some of the lesser known records?


Institutional records may help you. To name a few: prisons, orphanages, schools, hospitals, coroners, and poorhouses. Some time periods may not be available to the general public.

The first place to look is on the Family History Library Catalog to see if the records have been filmed for the time period and area you are searching.

Another suggestion is go to the Internet for the county you are interested in and see if there are records listed there. If not, put in a query.

Check surrounding counties as not every county had a foundling home, poorhouse, prison, etc.

These may be found by looking at the state records. Check to see if special school census were made. Coroner examiner records can give the date and reason for the death. This is usually at the county level.

Church records are another source to locate an ancestor. Many churches wrote histories and show the original members, or list pastors and board members. Some have baptismal, marriage and death records. Any other ceremony practiced by the various churches may be available.

Newspapers are full of information. Besides the births, marriages and obituaries, the early newspapers reported when someone visited a relative and where their home was located.

Trials, elections and juries may show where your ancestors lived. Voter registers are available such as the 1890 California Great Register.

I found my husband’s great grandfather’s birth in 1859 on a film of a medical record from a doctor’s notes in Marion Co, Il.

The main thing is to review everything you can available on a particular area.

Josie Plescia Vaughn

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User