Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Research Plans: A Tool to Avoid a Muddled Head and Lost Time

by Heather Murphy

Have you ever gotten up from the computer after researching for a couple hours (or more!) with a muddled head, wondering where the time went...and not quite remembering where you went on your internet researching trip?  Or maybe you have taken a break from your research and can't remember what you were going to search next?  The first tool you can use to solve these problems is a research plan.

Identifying your specific goal, and creating a plan to reach that goal, will help you stay focused.  What is your specific research objective?  What small, manageable segment of your family are you trying to learn more about?  Then, what record types will most likely supply the information you need? The FamilySearch Wiki has several Record Selection Tables that can help you decide which record types to search for a particular piece of information.  In the search box of the Wiki type the country or state you need and "record selection table".  Below are two examples:

You can then further use the Wiki (see the sidebar to the right if you still have the record selection table open) to learn about what records are available for your desired locality, either online or on site.  Make a list of several sources you think would be of benefit, what you hope to find in them, and then proceed to look at the sources, following your outline.  You may come across links to other sources that look interesting, but carefully consider if you should add that item into your plan at that point, or make a note of the resource to look into later.  When you have consulted the sources you outlined, or in the middle of your list if you deem appropriate, consider if you have found suitable information to answer your objective, or if you need to add onto your plan.

Research plans do not have to be complex, but if you provide enough information they can provide an additional benefit of helping you to know where you need to continue your research after stepping away from your project, whether for a day or a month.  It can also be helpful to make notes to yourself along the way of ideas for additional research.


I want to learn more about Nancy, the wife of Zachariah Taylor Casteel.

A simple research plan could look something like this:

Research Objective: Nancy md. to Zachariah Taylor Casteel: obtain death, marriage, and birth dates and places for Nancy.


  1. Every U.S. Federal census possible during her lifetime - birth year and state, could provide an idea of the places she lived during  the time frames of marriage and death, 1900/1910 censuses tell me how many years she had been married, 1900 has month of birth
  2. Death record - death date and place, birth date and place, maiden name to help find birth record
  3. Marriage record - marriage date and place, age, maiden name to help find birth record
  4. Cemetery record - death date, possibly birth date
  5. Obituary - death date and place, possibly birth date and place, marriage information

(These records could provide more information regarding Nancy and her family than I have noted in my plan, but I am focusing on how they can provide the answers to my research objective.)

I would then proceed to learn if these records are available for the time and place I need and then find the specific record collections that will help me.

While it is entertaining to jump from source to source across the internet thinking that the information you seek is a click away, making a research plan can help keep you focused on your goals and help use your valuable time more wisely.

Tre-Citta Lodge of the Sons of Italy and Tombstone QR Codes

From Art Kelly:  

I came across an announcement in the Tri-City Herald Newspaper about a local organization called: The Tre-Citta Lodge of the Sons of Italy. Their organization is only 3 years old with 38 members and meet monthly.  This organization, which encourages people of Italian descent to participate, it is also open to anyone. For more information, call 509-735-2163. 

Grand Lodge of the Northwest, Order Sons of Italy in America

Order Sons of Italy in America  (DBA as the Order Sons and Daughters of Italy in America) 

Also from Art:

An interesting article by Dick Eastman on the topic of QR codes on tombstones.

Have you come across an interesting article or piece of information that you think would be of interest to other members of TCGS?  Feel free to send me the information to share.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

PERSI: A Key to Unlocking Periodicals

by Heather Murphy

For over a hundred years various genealogical and historical societies have published periodicals to share information.  Articles range a wide variety of topics such as family histories, cemetery transcripts, tax lists, school records, and many more.  The Allen County Public Library's Genealogy Center, in Fort Wayne, Indiana, has compiled a subject index of more than 10,000 periodicals dating back to the mid 1800s, called the Periodical Source Index (PERSI).

PERSI is currently accessed through  Findmypast is working with the Federation of Genealogical Societies to improve the index to include links to digital images of all the periodicals.  Access to PERSI is free, though you do need to create a account, but viewing any digital images requires a subscription (or a visit to a local Family History Center).

On the home screen of, select the "Search" button and then choose "Newspapers & periodicals."  In this case I am looking for records in Clay county, Indiana.  I can search for "Indiana Clay" and see 911 records found.

On the left side of the screen are a number of filters which I can use to narrow my results, such as last name or subject, such as census, cemetery, etc.  Keep in mind that last names are only included in the index if they were the main subject of an article.  It will not find that last name appearing in a list within an article.  Clicking on the blue paper icon will bring up a source citation for the article; if there is a camera icon a digital image is available.

The citation shows which periodical volume and issue includes the article.  It also lists repositories that carry that issue, but the list is not exclusive.  Also indicated is the publisher of the periodical, in this case, Illiana Genealogical & Historical Society.

The next step is to find the article I have an interest in reading.  The Allen County Public Library has all of these periodicals in their collections and has a service to copy the articles upon request.  You can also see if the publisher has their periodicals available digitally or if they offer copy services.  Some periodicals can be found at  Another option is to search the Family History Library Catalog under the subsection of "Books."  I searched for "Illiana 1966", using the main words from the periodical title and the year of the issue I want.

Some records are available to view from anywhere, but some are only viewable at a Family History Center, which is the case for this particular periodical.

Yet another option is to check the TCGS holdings at the local Richland Family History Center.  The periodical catalog can be found here.  I was able to easily determine that they have the Illiana Genealogist Vols. 1-4, which includes the issue I want and I can pull it from the shelf to look at during my next visit.

Periodicals can be a great resource for finding small record collections or lists that are hard to find elsewhere.  The example I used here is for marriage records in Clay county, Indiana 1838-1853. and have a lot of marriage records for Indiana, but their collections begin in 1851-1853 for Clay county.  This periodical article could prove to be an important source for documenting marriages during that earlier time frame.

So the next time you have exhausted the more mainstream record collections and don't know where else to look for the information you need, give periodicals a try.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The End of Family History Library Microfilm Rental and How a Visit to the Richland Family History Center Could Help With Your Research

by Heather Murphy

If you haven't heard, the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah will no longer rent microfilm as of September 7th.  The reason why is exciting.  I remember around the year 2000 hearing that the Family History Library was starting to digitize their 2.4 million rolls microfilm, but that it would take decades to accomplish the task.  With advances in technology the process was accelerated and they currently have more than 1.5 million rolls digitized and will finish the project by 2020.  No more paying for films, waiting for six weeks to get them, only to be disappointed when the person you have anticipated finding is no where to be found!

You can access these records a couple of ways.  You can search the Family History Library Catalog
for your desired location and in "Search these family history centers:" choose "Online."

You can also search Historical Records by location.  As you scroll through the available collections, the first section includes collections which have been indexed and the second section includes collections for which there are not yet indexes.  Any item with a camera icon has images available.

Because of contractual restrictions, there are some microfilm that will not be made available digitally. Some other collections are only available to be viewed from a Family History Center.  This was the case for some Indiana land records I wanted to look at this week so I made my first trip to the Family History Center in Richland.

This FHC, located in its own building, is the home for the resource collection of the Tri-City Genealogical Society.  Our collection includes over 2,900 books, 450 periodicals, 200 CDs, and thousands of microfilm and microfiche.  I highly recommend taking time to check the Family History Library Catalog and TCGS's own catalogs for what is available.  You may be surprised at what you can find for research throughout the United States and some international localities.  Here are a few highlights that stood out to me during my visit.

Maps are extremely helpful in genealogical research and there are a great collection here.  Each state has a large map on a board that shows all the counties, roads, towns, waterways, etc.

This Illustrated Historical Atlas of Indiana includes maps of each county with townships and section numbers, making it easy for me to map out the location of an ancestor's land with the description I obtain from land records.  I spend a lot of time researching in Indiana and this was a helpful find for me.

The reference desk holds a large number of standard genealogical reference books.

This is a portion of the book stacks at the library.  Notice all the yellow bindings?  Those are all periodicals for various states and localities.  You can access the periodical catalog here.  In a later posting I will talk about PERSI (Periodical Source Index), which can help you find your ancestors in these publications without needing to look at every page.

Family History Centers also have access to subscription sites such as,,,,, and several others.  Click here for the list of available sites (last updated July 2016).

So, if you haven't used a Family History Center recently, you might want to visit one to see what you can find that will help you with your research.  Share in the comments below any resources you have been glad to find at the Family History Center in Richland.

Richland FHC (1314 Goethals, a brick building behind the LDS Church on Jadwin Ave.)
Phone: 509-946-6637

Monday:      9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Tuesday:      9:00 am - 9:00 pm
Wednesday: 9:00 am - 9:00 pm
Thursday:    9:00 am - 9:00 pm
Friday:         9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Saturday:     9:00 am - 5:00 pm

There are a few additional Family History Centers in the area, which have computers, printers, scanners, with internet access:

Richland (895 Gage Boulevard, in LDS church)

Tuesday:      10:00 am - 3:00 pm, 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Wednesday: 10:00 am - 3:00 pm, 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Thursday:    10:00 am - 3:00 pm
Saturday:     10:00 am - 2:00 pm

Pasco (2004 North 24th Ave., in LDS church)

Tuesday:      10:00 am - 12:00 pm, 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Wednesday: 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Thursday:    6:00 pm - 8:00 pm