Illinois Ancestors: Genealogy series looks at court records

Illinois Ancestors: Genealogy series looks at court records

The Genealogy at a Glance series, begun in 2011 by the Genealogical Publishing Co., and offering guidance on principal record sources in a handy format — four laminated 8-by-11-inch pages — has added "Court Records" to its list of dozens of such guides.

Author Wendy Bebout Elliott notes that court records are "invaluable but under-used" and often difficult to locate. Her guide includes some quick facts, a general overview of the four types of legal cases (probate, civil, criminal, equity), non-probate court cases (adoption, land and naturalizations) search strategies, sources of records (including some online records), major repositories and important tips.

For example: "Even if your family lived in one county or state, they may have filed court records in adjacent of other locations."

"Genealogy at a Glance: Court Records," ISBN 978-0-8063-1986-5, can be ordered from the Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 3600 Clipper Mill Road, Suite 260, Baltimore, MD 21211-1953, as item No. 1626 for $8.95 plus postage and handling (first item $4.50; each additional item $2.50.) Visa and MasterCard orders may be placed at 800-296-6687, or it can be ordered online at

The publisher's website provides a list of the other genealogy-at-a-glance guides. Laminated for heavy use, these guides provide helpful information for successful genealogical research, and make valuable additions to any researcher's library.

Research trip to D.C.

The National Genealogical Society is now accepting registrations for its 2014 research trip to Washington, D.C., which is Nov. 2-8.

Under the guidance of Craig Roberts Scott and Patricia Walls Stamm, researchers will receive training and research assistance and use the genealogical resources at Washington's National Archives and Records Administration, the Library of Congress and the Daughters of the American Revolution Library.

The registration price is cheaper for members than for nonmembers, and it is also cheaper if filed before Sept. 2. Registrants will spend six nights at the Holiday Inn Rosslyn, which includes daily continental breakfast and free Internet in rooms. For more information (or to register) visit, click on "conferences and events," then "research trips," then "Washington, DC." Space is limited, and early registration is suggested. Deadline to register is Sept. 30.

We all make mistakes

Although beginning researchers might have a greater tendency to make mistakes, more experienced genealogical researchers may also be guilty of some "rookie mistakes" — some of which have been listed by FamilySearch at

For example, "Rookies assume an ancestor's name has only one correct spelling." We should all audibly say an ancestor's surname, and then make a list of ALL the possible ways that name could be spelled. The chances are that such spellings HAVE been written in documents and should be included in any search of indexes. For example, my Ayres line has been spelled Ayrs, Airs, Eyres and many more ways.

Check this list of rookie mistakes and determine if your research is being hindered because of them.

Civil War resources at LOC

The Library of Congress has prepared a guide to many of its Civil War resources along with links to selected resources outside the library at

For example, a click on "Resource Guides" takes one to the four-page list of resources such as maps, music, photographs and texts as well as material for teachers and young audiences.

Women's history month

March 2014 has again been designated at Women's History Month. It thus seems appropriate to click on one of the external Civil War Resources, accessible from the above website, to the three-part "Prologue" article, titled "Women Soldiers of the Civil War," by DeAnne Blanton.

Although women could not enlist in either the Union or Confederate armies during the Civil War, many disguised themselves as men and were not "discovered" until captured, wounded or killed. The bibliography of this article includes an extensive list of articles, books and records documenting women as soldiers.

"The women soldiers of the Civil War merit recognition in modern American society because they were trailblazers. ... From a historical viewpoint, the women combatants of 1861 to 1865 were not just ahead of their time; they were ahead of our time." (Prologue Magazine, Spring 1993, Vol. 25, No. 1 at

Queries, genealogical questions from researchers and genealogical materials readers would like to share will be printed in this column free. Joan Griffis may be reached via email at or by sending a letter to Illinois Ancestors, c/o The News-Gazette, P.O. Box 677, Champaign, IL 61824-0677.

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