Saturday, April 25, 2015

V is for Voter Registration

Have you looked in the voter registration rolls for your ancestors? Voter registrations are considered public documents. Perform an online search to find out the public law for the state or locality you are interested in and determine what records have been maintained and what you need to do acquire the information. Some States (most notably California) have placed their records online and they are available through subscription sites or through the State agency. Cyndi's List has 97 locality specific links under the heading Voters, Poll Books and Electoral Records, which includes localities, states and countries with voter registration information. Why not check it out and see if your ancestors registered for and voted in elections. (And a reminder - Cyndi's List is an excellent site for all things genealogy links).

Here is an example from the California Voter Registration Index. As you can see you can find out the name, address, voting district, occupation and party affiliation of any individual who registered to vote. In some Voter Registration Indexes age and length of time at residence are also included. Be sure to take advantage of voter registration information to add to your family's story.

Have you included voter registration as an event/fact in your Legacy family file?

See you back here on Monday for the letter W.

Friday, April 24, 2015

U is for Unknown

always on the lookout for those maiden names
I have 250 females in my Legacy family file with an unknown surname. These are the women who we find in the census or city directory or voting rolls or newspaper articles listed with their married surname. These women are the "married-ins" or the mothers of "married-ins." Oftentimes in newspaper articles they were referred to as Mrs. Harry Smith (not even their own first names were used!). For most of these women, I have not yet found a marriage record or any indication of their maiden name.

I know that many genealogists leave the surname entry blank but I prefer to use Unknown - I know I don't have the surname yet, but I am always on the lookout. I have also made a general note in my Legacy family file that I use Unknown intentionally (and for those whom I don't have a surname) - I would not want anyone to think that Unknown is an actual surname or that all my Unknowns are related (I once heard a presenter tell that story but I really hope she was joking!).

Do you use Unknown to indicate an unknown surname or do you leave the space blank?

See you back here tomorrow for the letter V.