The second presentation I went to at Family History Day was “Hidden Treasures at Ancestry.com” by Lou Dennis Szucs. It was pretty cool to hear someone speak in person who’s books I have read.
The most important take-away from Lou’s presentation was to not use the search box on the front page of Ancestry.com. While it will give you things such as census records and vital records, the smaller collections will not rank highly enough for you to find information on your family member. Always go to the specific collection or to the correct county, state or country page to do your searches.
What are some of the hidden treasures at Ancestry.com?
- Mortality Schedules for the 1850-1880 census
- Seamen's Protection Certificates
- US Veteran's Gravesites, 1795-2006
- Homes for Disabled Soldiers
- Returns from Military Posts
- African-American and Jewish landing pages
Lou also discussed how important it is to browse the records, not just look at the page your ancestor is on, take the information, and go on to the next thing. Back before the internet, every census record found required going through sheet after sheet of the census. This often meant finding other families you were looking for and knowing more about the friends and neighbors who associated with your relatives. Although no one would want to go back to that time, we still should be looking at the surrounding pages in a record and the header of each record.