MPG Study Group 2 Chapter 3 Homework: One source that packs a punch in ancestral research

Mastering Genealogical Proof by Thomas W. Jones
Mastering Genealogical Proof by Thomas W. Jones

Mastering Genealogical Proof Study Group 2

My Chapter Three Homework Assignment


Thomas W. Jones, Mastering Genealogical Proof (Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society, 2013), 6. [Book available from the publisher at ]

“Dear Myrtle’s” Mastering Genealogical Proof 2 Study Group

One source that packs a punch in ancestral research

The third Chapter in Dr. Jones book, Mastering Genealogical Proof,  is about accurate and through research.  Our 9 Mar 2014 Chapter 3 discussion on Dear Myrtle’s MPG Study Group 2, reminded me of when I started my family research. I didn’t have a computer back then, most families didn’t, that was something businesses had. We know about typewriters, yet only those who went into business were allowed to enter classes on how to use them. If you were college bound, you were out of luck. Longhand was your only way to record you information.

Where do you find that information is the key?

Early years: I had the family stories, traditions, at that time I had accesses to the family Bible, letters and marriage records of my parents. We have since lost most of the originals in two separate fires. Replacements were obtained at the local level in New Hampshire. My parents went to the town of birth for themselves and some of the children.  Slight problem, the town hall had burned, their records were lost. Resolution the town clerk at the time remembered my parent’s birth. My father’s aunt also verified his birth. My mother second verification was her brother. The children’s verification were our parents, aunt and uncle.  Replacement certificates were obtained. (It was a small rural community in the north-central-west side of the state. It was a typical everyone know everyone type of community.) Enough about me and some challenges of obtaining birth records.

Intermediate years: Jump ahead twenty eight years. We know have dial up computers, with some information on my ancestors. I found I had more information than they did. Not a viable resource for me. I went to my local library or should I say libraries. I had to go to each town my ancestors lived in to read the town records that were housed there. The town hall didn’t release them when I visited until later when I had written permission from the matriarch or patriarch in the families (Dad and Mom’s side). I was lucky, most of my records were in New Hampshire, Maine, and Massachusetts. Not so lucky the Maine locations to great a distance for me.  I had marriage, moved to New Jersey and started a family.  Mom and Dad had another fire, more records lost. So distance, time and lost opportunities were all road little bumps in the road to my research.

Present Day: Technology has arrived with all its bells and whistles. I’m learning more of how to fully mine that technology for useful information. Here is how I start my research, today.  From the comfort of my home, after getting a free local library membership. The reference librarian instructed me in what online websites were available that can be accessed at the library or from home; the inter library lending options, especially town histories, and several books already at my local library.

This blog is about one of those library resources that can be used either at the library or from home, called Heritage Quest. I love this site because it offers multiple ways to piece together your family records from the comfort of your computer login. Just a reminder not all my research is done on line. I still go to the local towns for the originals records, the state archives for court and other documents housed there.

I gather all findable records which include at least two originals with separate independent informants about my ancestor. It is like a puzzle that needs the outer frame for a strong start, followed by filling in the center with each piece that matches and securely intertwines until we see the complete picture it provides.

  1. I see what I have for documentation on hand.
  2. I write my focus question that will answer what information I am missing. Caution one focus question at a time. Write down the other questions for later research to keep yourself of task of completing your puzzle.
  3. Login into the library Heritage Quest Program
  4. Check census records, mine it for all its information, family members, neighbors, location, occupation and much more. You can search by name or browse by location. I do quick surname search followed by browsing the census year and town. This gives you a better understanding of how they fit into the community. Sometimes, due to misspelling a name does not appear with the quick search. Don’t forget to cite what and where you found your information.
  5. I take nothing at face value, they are just clues to the next piece of the puzzle.
  6. Books are my next step, especially town histories. Heritage Quest Books allows you to look up by People, Place or Publication, if known. It gives you the options to sort by relevance, author, title and publication. You can refine your search. Start board (surname), refine from there by adding keywords, town, state, Christian name, etc. I sort my relevancy. I look at the hits, view image, table of contents to see if this is a book I want to continue with for this ancestor I am researching. Don’t get off focus. Write down the information if you believe it is for another ancestor for later review. Write the source, page, person, repository or website for late use.
  7. Next stop is the PERSI Archive. You can research by Person, Places, How To’s and periodicals. There are multiple search fields (a plethora of information here)
    1. All
    2. Biography
    3. Cemeteries
    4. Census Records
    5. Church Records
    6. Court Records
    7. Deeds
    8. Directories
    9. History
    10. Institutions
    11. Land Records
    12. Maps
    13. Military Records
    14. Naturalization
    15. Obituaries
    16. Misc
    17. Passenger Lists
    18. Probate Records
    19. School Records
    20. Surname
    21. Freedman’s Bank: I doesn’t include all states. You can sort by surname, Given name, applicant name, branch state, Application year, Military information. Please search even if your ancestors’ state of residence isn’t listed. You may miss an ancestor from 1865-1874 by not searching.
    22. Revolutionary War Records: You can search by surname or  (not just the Rev War here)
      1. 4 Regiment Artillery
      2. Armand’s Corps
      3. Artillery Artificers
      4. CAN(Canada)
      5. CONT(Continental)
      6. Engineers
      7. FR(France)
      8. Foreign
      9. General Hospital
      10. GER(Germany)
      11. Hazen’s Regiment
      12. IN(Indian War)
      13. Invalid Corps
      14. Lee’s  Legion
      15. Military Hospital
      16. Navy
      17. SCT (Scotland)
      18. Sea Service
      19. Von Heer’s Corps
      20. War of 1812
      21. U.S. Serial Set: Search in the Memorials, Petitions and Private Relief Actions of the U.S. Congress by people or places.
      22. Heritage Quest keeps a search history for you that you can refer back to prevent duplicate searches.
      23. Learning Center is a new addition to Heritage Quest that lessons on how to research your ancestors.  It has three categories:
        1. Beginners
        2. Intermediate
        3. Advanced

Heritage Quest is just one resource that provides multiple links to different types of records needed in that reasonable exhaustive search that Dr. Jones speaks of in his book “Mastering Genealogical Proof.

I just noticed that Heritage Quest Learning Center page is distributed by ProQuest and Powered by Family Search I’m not sure how to cite this information, so I am making note of it here. (Copyright © 1999-2014 ProQuest LLC. All rights reserved. Terms and Conditions.    v2014.

I have, to the best of my current abilities, provided citations of my sources. I plan to return when I have learned how to properly write my source citations according to GPS in Dear Myrtle’s MGP Study Group 2, following Thomas W. Jones book Mastering Genealogical Proof.


Thomas W. Jones, Mastering Genealogical Proof (Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society, 2013), 6. [Book available from the publisher at ]

“Dear Myrtle’s” Mastering Genealogical Proof 2 Study Group

Heritage Quest, institutional sign in (Library) n.d. last accessed 9 Mar 2014 by June Stearns Butka

Here are just two videos from the ‘Learning Center of Heritage Quest,” both are at the beginners level. There are two more beginners video listed; one from the Allen County Public Library and the second from Pam L. Smith

  1. Jones, Tom: “Principles for Beginning Genealogist,” Heritage Quest Learning Center. n.d. last accessed 9 Mar 2014 by June Stearns Butka
  2. “Ancestors Lesson Getting Started.” Family Search.  On line video lesson. n.d. Web last accessed by June Stearns Butka 9 mar 2014

Other resources you will find useful in your genealogical research that. This is not a complete list, by any means, just a brief view of what in my ancestral journey.

  1. Red book at,_County,_and_Town_Sources
  2. Cyndi’s list

2 thoughts on “MPG Study Group 2 Chapter 3 Homework: One source that packs a punch in ancestral research

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s