Missing or Scarce Records
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SOLUTIONS FOR MISSING OR SCARCE RECORDS
X Burned courthouse, church or home
X Records lost through war, vandalism, neglect, or intentional or accidental destruction
X Frontier or other area with inconsistent record keeping
X Ancestral family left few records
X Area, time period, or religion without vital records
X Access restrictions
X Researcher is unaware of alternative sources
X Researcher does not know how to find or use evidence
SOME TYPICAL SURVIVING RECORDS
- Tax lists
- Church minute books or other records
- Court order books, minutes, or papers
- Militia records
- Voter records
- Letters, diaries, and other personal papers of community members
- Store accounts or other commercial records
- Leases or other landlord records
- Gravestones or burial records
- Legislative or gubernatorial petitions
- Other manuscripts, not mentioned above, that may be in private hands, historical societies or archives
- Search subordinate and super-ordinate jurisdictions, especially the following –
- State and town records, if county records are missing (for example, court, military, and tax records may be found at different levels or copies of county-level records)
- Diocese, if parish records are missing
- Search surrounding jurisdictions.
- Research relatives, neighbors, and associates, especially those who moved to areas with more records.
- Search reconstructed records, if available.
- Search records after the period of destruction.
- Search well after the ancestor’s lifetime.
- Search archives, historical societies, libraries, and other repositories that many have information from the jurisdiction with missing records.
- Study research guides and periodicals for the state, county, and region.
- Join the genealogical and historical societies for the region with missing records.
- Review case studies demonstrating successful research in the area with missing records.
- Follow any trail the records suggest –
- Records implying the existence of other records
- Records suggesting migration of your research subjects and their relatives, neighbors and associates, especially to jurisdictions where records may be more complete
- Records referring to other jurisdictions where records may be more complete