Sometimes, you just have to pick up the phone and call! That is what I learned this week as I worked on a certification portfolio report.
It seems that every genealogy road eventually leads to somewhere far away. Eventually, you are going to have to start researching in another state or even another country.
Online research brings those far away places within reach. The internet is a miracle really. It is amazing what information you can find by typing in a few keywords to Google. This week, I was reminded that not everything is on the internet.
I already knew I couldn't find all the sources I needed online. There are probably thousands of records still hidden in dusty old basements that haven't been viewed by human eyes in decades. Because of this, it is possible the records you are looking for have not even been microfilmed.
Yesterday, I picked up the phone and started calling places in my targeted area of research. I called the local library. I called the historical society. I called the genealogical society. I called the courthouse. I kept asking the same questions about all the types of records I needed. Finally, one woman says, "Just a minute," and then Jennifer answers with, "Hello, how can I help you?" Jennifer is a worker at the county courthouse. When I told her who I was researching she said, "Are you familiar with John [last name withheld] who is the family historian of that family? They have a large farm here in the county." WHAT!? She pointed out where I might find his contact information, as she was not able to give it to me.
Friends, this is the type of information you may only find if you start making phone calls (or visit the area). Some people call these "cold calls." When I phoned John, he thought I might be a solicitor. Remember to talk slow, but get right to the point. I said something like, "John, my name is Amie Tennant. I am a genealogy researcher in Ohio and am researching the [name withheld] family. I heard you were their family historian in the county."
And, there you have it. This phone call led to new information, new sources, and it didn't take long at all. I think this might be part of the exhaustive research we talk about in the GPS.
I would also add, I often learn about unique holdings when I call the history department of a local library or archive. There have been many times when I say, "I would really like to find ______. Do you have any idea where I might find that kind of information in your county?" Local historians have pointed me to unknown newspapers on microfilm, family books, and more. Talk to knowledgeable people in your targeted location. Someone somewhere knows something you don't!
Here's to more weeks of exhaustive research and a few more cold calls.
Read Entry 3 of "My Journey of the Certification Process" here.