Chapter 3

Searching Primary Resource Sites

IN THIS CHAPTER

check Surveying Ancestry.com

check Exploring FamilySearch.org

check Introducing other primary resource sites

Before the age of the Internet, searching for primary sources was like trying to find a needle in a haystack. A typical research session would begin in a crowded room containing paper indexes of census records. After searching through rows and rows of information, you would jot down some names that looked familiar along with a record’s page number. Then you’d grab a roll of microfilm and scroll your way through it until you found the page number. Sometimes your potential ancestor wouldn’t be on that page, requiring you to search line by line before and after the targeted page. If you still couldn’t find the name for your search, you might have to read line by line through an entire county. Needless to say, it could take hours to find the individual, only to discover that it wasn’t really your ancestor after all.

Fast-forward to the age of the Internet. Now you can find digitized versions of the census microfilm online; even better, most of them have indexes that link directly to the image. Although indexers still make mistakes, it ...

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