HOW TO EXPLORE YOUR AMERICAN PAST WITH HERITAGEQUEST ONLINE
Whether you’ve explored your family history for years or you’re just beginning your journey, we have resources to help! HeritageQuest Online helps you discover where your American past began.
Below are tips and tricks to help you use HeritageQuest Online.
To find missing ancestors in the census:
Try searching using just middle or nicknames for the #given names. You can also try searching without a given name and then filtering your results by location, gender and age. Occasionally, census takers only recorded initials in place of the given name. Using only a first initial will bring up these records.One other idea is to pronounce a foreign ancestor’s surname as they might have given it to the census taker. Many census takers spelled names phonetically. A real life example—a German ancestor with the last name Ehrhardt was found in the census under the spelling Earhod.
To view state maps:
Click on the MAPS button near the top of the home page to access the Map Guide to U.S. Federal Censuses, 1790-1920, which shows
county outline maps at ten-year intervals. The old county boundaries are superimposed over the modern lines. These maps will help you find your ancestors in the correct county when doing record searches.
To search books better:
Use wildcards to cover all possible alternative forms of names. Put * or ? in the middle or end of names where you expect variations.
Example: Typing Wil* Sm?th will return results for William, Will, Willard, Smith, Smyth, etc.
To expand your search:
Don’t forget to check other databases in HeritageQuest Online-
- Freedman’s Bank contains records from African American depositors after the Civil War
- Revolutionary War Pension Applications Collection provides records from family Bibles, personal letters, battle accounts, and more
- U.S. Serial Set has selected memorials, petitions and private relief actions of the U.S. Congress
To get more tips: Click the RESEARCH AIDS button near the top of the home page.
- Ancestry Library Edition
- African American Heritage
- ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Cincinnati Enquirer (1841-2009)
- Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps
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Written with assistance from Hilda Lindner Knepp.