Getting Started in Ohio Research
Ohio has the nation's best system of archives as well as the best collections of historical materials with genealogical value. When combined with significant research strategies, the use of these excellent sources often leads to the most successful family history pursuits.
A. Prepare for research by constructing an organizational system based on record-keeping jurisdictions [see our Group about Organization]:
global national state county town & township family
B. Begin Ohio pedigree pursuits by building the necessary methodological foundation. Use the research principles described in this outline.
C. Study the most current and accurate locality-specific "how-to" tools. In addition to those cited under Genealogy in the following state listings, these include the free FamilySearch Research Guidance system and individual Research Outlines at: www.familysearch.org
D. Create a timeline for one target ancestral family. Add key dates of national and state events as mentioned in the FamilySearch Research Outline.
E. Study local history and add items to your timeline (i.e. county created, newspaper published, church or lodge established, arrival of important settlement groups).
F. Learn about the most important archives and libraries for your locality. See the guides and bibliographies listed below under Archives or Vital. Use the WPA inventories, even when a county is not yet known; if one is not available for a target county, use one for the nearest county. Those facilities with the best collections have particularly helpful Internet sites: state archive, state historical society, state library, state vital records bureau, large public library, special library.
G. Use the major survey sources -generally automated- which may lead to compiled information about any Midwestern family. Examples are the Biography and Genealogy Master Index, Pedigree resource File. The International Genealogical Index is perhaps the largest database based on Ohio vital records, and pilot.familysearch.org has indexes to digitized images of Ohio deaths (1908-1953) and tax records (1816-1838).
H. Following the basic research process, use the sources of the Family History Library (FHL). Start with the federal indexes which pertain to Ohio families, i.e.:
' indexes to all federal military service, 1776-1900 (seeking residences)
' indexes to federal passenger arrival lists, 1820-1920 (seeking destinations)
' indexes to federal census schedules, 1790-1920 (seeking residences, origins)
' indexes to land claims and to pre-1908 BLM land records (seeking residences)
' indexes to naturalizations at federal courts, generally 1906-1980s (for residence and more)
' indexes to national historical sources, such as the U.S. Territorial Papers
I. Continue with the statewide locator sources highlighted is a separate post. The goal is to identify each county where the family may have left a paper trail.
J. Understand the history and area of each locality and place name by using sources such as those listed under Gazetteers, Historical Geography, and Maps.
K. Repeat the research process with relevant Internet sources. See examples marked + in the list which follows.
L. If the desired county cannot be determined for a certain time period, review your search of survey sources. If needed, try key indexes to civil records in the older and larger cities in the state (such as marriage indexes for Cincinnati).
M. If a county has been identified, gather and evaluate local sources obtained at the FHL and by correspondence and personal visits to the Midwest, if possible. These sources are described in the world=s largest genealogical bibliography, the Family History Library Catalog, under the name of each specific county -and then town or township. Start with courthouse documents such as probates and deeds, and continue with non-civil sources such as newspapers and church records.
N. Build a network of genealogists and archivists by joining at least one statewide genealogical society and one local society, and perhaps an Internet interest group such as those I posted on GenealogyWise for Naturalization, Military Pensions, Newspapers, and so on. Since you will have discovered so many possible sources, "divide and conquer" the pedigree pursuit by enlisting family members.