Have You Included Offline Records in Your Research?

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It has been quite interesting to visit different archives and courthouses in the state of South Carolina, U.S. to handle and review various record types.  

Last week I spent the morning in the Greenwood County Courthouse for the first time.  My self-guided field trip reaffirmed the reality that most people will eventually need the service of a professional genealogist.  

FamilySearch1 estimates that over 92% of the world's records are still offline and only available by visiting the archives and repositories where they are located.

Knowing where and how to access records can be somewhat daunting.  For example, if you were looking for a marriage record, you would need to first research:

  • When marriage records began to be recorded for a particular location
  • Where marriage records are held (often in a county courthouse, but sometimes only in an ecclesiastical repository, or possibly only in a state or provincial capitol)
  • Whether or not an index exists for the time period you are researching

After you figure all that out, you need to be fortunate enough to find the record in good enough condition to be readable. If you spend most of your time researching online, you may be neglecting the 93% of records that are currently sitting in repositories, and which unfortunately, with the passage of time, may be deteriorating.

I wore gloves and was very careful when handling the marriage index used to locate the marriage license.  It was literally crumbling.  Many of the names that I was able to read were found on only fragments of pages.  How unfortunate it would be if that index was ultimately unusable and researchers would have to manually search through each marriage record one by one to find a desired document.

Think about the many places you have yet to visit that may contain information on your ancestors. Now might be a great time to have one or more of our over 400 professional genealogists help you gain access to the numerous records that are not yet available online.  Visit Genealogists.com today. 

1FamilySearch Works to Put the World’s Historical Records Online in One Generation. FamilySearch Blog. 4 Feb. 2014.

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by Robin Foster © 2014, Genealogists.com. All rights reserved

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March 7, 2014
Wesley is the founder of hello@traceyourpast.com.

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