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“Armchair” Genealogy

A rather older way of doing genealogy research but, still a very persistent part of genealogy & family history research in this era of transition: Armchair Genealogy.

“Armchair Genealogy” refers to researching your family history & ancestors from the comfort of your home; you know without trampsing all over the country to visit various libraries & repositories on your own. In that definition, it still applies to today’s technologically advanced reserach.

However, for me, I used it to describe the massive amounts of silly letters I still have to compose & send off with a small “donation” or “processing” fee to request records & research. Today, that was 7 more letters, 7 more checks, 14 envelopes & 14 stamps! And about 1.5 more months of waiting ;( Just a small price to pay for “help” :)

I am so glad that I am not having to hand write these letters. I have a standard letterhead that I have created & use exclusively for my genealogy needs. It cuts down on time too. I am all about saving time… but it would be even better if I could just email & use Paypal at the least. LOL!

If you’re just getting started in your research or finally trying to expand your research scope, or as in my case, trying to knock down a brick wall, request letters are essential! So must is not online: personal diaries & letter collections, military records, biographies, land surveys, church records, slave sales, freedom papers, etc… There’s are decades left without a web address :) America has been a country for over 200 years! Many records can be found before that as well!

There are records starting to show up online more & more everyday… Currently working with Wisconsin & Illinois, I have realized I have the ability to “order copies” online. At first this sounded rather enticing! Instant gratification! What’s better than that?

That was until I realized that 1) I wouldn’t have a front & back copy maybe & 2) the image might be cropped, & 3) might be mislinked & not get the image I requested. Still very leary of ordering anything of this nature online. Theres so much to seeing the full document, front, back, margins on the sides,… But…

I thought I would never know without giving it a try :) LOL! Guess what! They don’t have complete records online &/or they don’t go back as far as I need. Anything after a certain date with Cook County, Illinois, and I was instructed to write the County Clerk. Great!

If you remember I just picked my genealogy back up after a two year break & started to focus on one line at a time… so in the last month I have written 12 letters to various vital repositories & genealogy societies. The hardest part is the wait :( But I am satisfied in knowing that the records I hope to obtain will have been handled by an actual individual who will have reviewed their efforts before returning my requests, getting all the information I requested… front & back of the document in full image :)

So hi-ho, hi-ho, hi-ho it’s off to the post office I go!


One response »

  1. I agree…the hardest part is the wait. But when you open the response and it is chock full of terrific-ness, or breaks down one of your multitude of brick walls, it is so worth it! I am very much an armchair genealogist as libraries and small children don’t mix. But I love the letter writing and the returns through snail mail. What will I do when the post office goes away? ;)


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