Lesson 4

Large Databases

Large Databases are websites that compile large numbers of records in one place to make your searching more expeditious. FamilySearch.org would be an example of a large database. However there are many more large databases that exist. Let’s take a look at some of the commercial companies that have resources available to us.

Ancestry – http://www.ancestry.com

o    Ancestry.com is a paid subscription service that provides indexes and images of various historical records. Some of the record types that the database includes are census, immigration, military, and vital. The contents of this website can be accessed for free on any computer connected to the campus internet.

o    Fee: Free on campus internet, paid subscription otherwise.

o    Record Type: Census, Vital Records, Military, Migration and Naturalization, Maps and Gazetteers, Land and Probate, and User Submitted Trees.

Fold3 – http://www.fold3.com

o    Fold3 is another paid subscription website that specializes in military records. It includes various other collections but has the richest content when dealing with military related events. It is also free on BYU campus.

o    Fee: Free on campus internet, paid subscription otherwise.

o    Record Type: Military, Census, Vital Records, Migration and Naturalization, and Newspapers.

World Vital Records – http://www.worldvitalrecords.com

o    A paid subscription site that focuses on birth, marriage, and death records. The database is accessible for free on BYU campus.

o    Fee: Free on campus internet, paid subscription otherwise.

o    Record Type: Census, Vital Records, and Migration and Naturalization.

Heritage Quest Online - http://www.heritagequestonline.com/hqoweb/library/do/index

o    The main database you will find on this site is the Periodical Source Index (PERSI). You can search genealogy and local history articles for people and places.

o    Fee: Free on campus internet or off campus with a BYU student log in, paid subscription otherwise.

o    Record Type: Census, Periodicals (PERSI), Freedman’s Bank, U.S. Serial Set, and Revolutionary War Records.

Tips for searching online

Sometimes it can be helpful to search for different spellings of a name because the record of your ancestor could have been transcribed incorrectly or spelled differently on the document.

·         Use an asterisk (*) after the first few letters of a name to search for all names with that beginning and any other ending.

o    Example: Name = Heimbigner, Search = Heim*

·         Replace one letter of a name with a question mark (?) to search for all names that have any letter in the place where the question mark is.

o    Example: Name = Smith, Search = Sm?th (Will bring up results like Smyth, Smuth, etc.)


Searching the Census: A Case Study

1.    Select a family to practice applying all the skills we have learned thus far. It is suggested that you choose a family that lived between 1850 and 1920. Even if research has already been completed for this family, they can still be a valuable way for you to practice what you’ve learned.

2.    Look at the information for each individual and choose the individual about which you know the most. The goal for this lesson will be to find that person on at least two census records. But first, answer the following questions:

·         In order to find out more information on his parents, why would we want to search the census first?

·         Which census should we check first and why?

·         At which websites can we search for this census?

3.    Go to either of the websites you have listed and try to locate the desired census. Put in as much information about the individual as you can and then search for him or her. Click to view the record, then answer the following questions

·         How do you know that the person listed on the census is the same person as is in your RootsMagic file?

·         What new information did you learn about this individual from the record?

·         What new information did you learn about this individual’s family from the record?


If you struggle reading the column heads view the census templates available at http://www.ancestry.com/charts/census.aspx.


4.    Enter the new information you’ve learned about this family into your RootsMagic file and then answer the question that follows.

To enter information into RootsMagic, first add the event by selecting the event from the pull down menu under “Add a Fact.” Next enter a source citation:

           i.        Click on the event to be cited.

          ii.        Click the “Sources” button.

        iii.        Click on “Add a new Source.”

         iv.        Select “Census, U.S. Federal (Online Images)” from the template selection

          v.        Enter the information in the boxes following the guidelines provided in gray lettering

1.    In the credit line you should enter the roll number. In Ancestry this can be found on the right hand side in the source citation box. FamilySearch does not provide this information for most of their census records.

2.    Civil division refers to the name of the precinct.

3.    Enumeration district numbers can be found on the top right hand corner of the image.

         vi.        Give the record a master source name that will be broad enough to be reusable, but narrow enough to be pertinent to all the information contained in the yellow master source box.


·         Now that we have found one census, why would you want to search for this same individual in another census year?


Repeat the process for another census record. Once you have entered the information from this second record, compare the two records you’ve found. List four pieces of information that differ between the two or information that is given on one census but not the other.