Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Philadelphia Genealogy: An Introduction

With the explosion in online digital resources, genealogy is a different experience than it was just ten or twenty years ago. This is not your great-aunt Bertha's genealogy.

The process is the same:
  1. start with yourself and identify what you know about your family,
  2. decide what you want to learn about your family,
  3. select records to search,
  4. obtain and search the record, and
  5. use the information.
But steps three and four are dramatically different than in previous generations. Many resources are now available in just seconds at FamilySearch, Ancestry, FindMyPast, MyHeritage, and AmericanAncestors. (These are the five programs available free to members of the Church. If you are a member of the Church and haven't signed up for the services, visit Partner Access.) 

The collections at these websites are expanding almost daily. FamilySearch is currently working with the Historical Society of Pennsylvania to digitize parts omyherf its collection. (I hope to have more about the project later.)

How do you use all the genealogical resources? What steps do you need to take?

In the coming months, the weekly series Philadelphia Genealogy will walk through the research process step by step, using the example of the Linton family. The Lintons immigrated to Philadelphia in the mid-nineteenth century. One of the family members, Samuel Linton, whose story was featured here last week, joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and moved to Utah, but the rest of the family remained in Philadelphia.

We will use online resources, highlight local collections, visit cemeteries, find historical maps, and see what the story of this family can tell us about life for immigrants, religion in the city, peripatetic Philadelphia cemeteries, local histories, and the feeling of connection to people and places.

Whether or not you have Philadelphia ancestry, this series will be useful for anyone interested in genealogy or family history, since the process of research is the same for most types of genealogy.

In the meantime, here are a few guides and wikis for Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia area:
Here are guides for researching some of the ethnic groups in the Philadelphia area: 
The beautiful 1847 Philadelphia map used here and as the background for this blog was found at David Rumsey Maps, one of the websites I will feature in this series. The map is a good example of early lithography and was considered the most successful of all the Robert P. Smith maps. The pictures in the lower corners are Girard College and Laurel Hill Cemetery.

All Installments in This Series
Getting Started
Family Records
Online Trees
Using search engines

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