• Types of resources for researching your ancestors in the US

    By Karen Norwillo
    1. Interview of living relatives
    2. Birth, marriage, death records – can be obtained by contacting the Bureau of Vital Records for the state
    3. Obituaries – can sometimes be found in archives of local newspapers of place of death. Often searchable at local libraries and genealogical societies. Ask a Librarian is often available at the libraries to do photocopies of obituaries.
    4. Photo albums – identify people in photos on back, dates and place, if known. Also, relationship to you.
    5. Use the genealogical and historical societies in the state, county and city/town in question.
    6. Family Search centers and FamilySearch.org have records from all over the US and parts of the world. Be flexible with spellings in your searches. Misspellings are frequent.
    7. Use the internet search engines, such as Google, to find information. Type in simple terms, such as, MI Death Index, or any state, and follow leads. Death and Marriage Index also gets results. Sometimes just entering a name will give leads.
    8. A subscription to Ancestry.com, while costly, is an invaluable tool. See: Census records.
    9. Volunteers, such as those at Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness will often do look-ups, get copies and take photos in the local cemetery for you.It is important to tell them what you know and exactly what you hope to find. Keep it simple. Don't expect them to do comprehensive research for you. Offer reimbursement and don't forget to thank them. Many genealogical societies have volunteers for this, also.
    10. Don't forget the church that your relative attended. If known, information can often be requested from them. Be specific with your request. They're not going to be willing to do multi-year searches if you don't know at least approximate dates. Offer a donation with your request. Believe me, it helps.
    11. Locate books that may help in your search. History of a town, centennial books, anniversary of a church, organizations your relative might have belonged to, such as Temperance organizations. These can often be found at the historical society or local library of the town.
    12. The Red Book, third edition, American State, County and Town Sources by Eichholz, Ancestry Publishing, Generations Network – lists addresses and contacts for all 50 states, counties and larger cities.Lists where to get vital documents, birth and death certificate copies. Look at perameters for when records start. Early records were probably not filed with the state, but are still in county or local archives.
    13. History of Finns in Michigan, Armas K E Holmio, Wayne State University Press 2001
    14. Swenson Center in Rock Island, IL. – many records of Finns and Swedes archived. Will do research for a fee.
    15. Find-a-Grave.com will often have tombstone photos and/or information that has been submitted by a descendant.
    16. If your ancestor settled in WA or OR try "Death Certificates of Finns in (name of county).com". For example, if your ancestor settled in the Seattle area, Death Certificates of Finns in King County will yield multi year records for you to search.
    17. EllisIslandRecords.org will often have the ship's manifest of passengers for your ancestor's arrival in the US. Misspellings frequent. Castle Gardens is also searchable for the period prior to Ellis Island.
    18. Good to begin with searching the Finnish records from Hangö at Migration Institute. It's a paid site, small fee, for more complete records. If you know when your ancestor left Finland, it's easier to trace their arrival in the US. Early emigration not found here. Often, those people left from Sweden.
    19. Join Finnish websites such as Finlander, SFHS, Genealogical Societies in areas where your ancestors settled. This is often needed to access full records.
    20. Follow clues no matter how small. Be patient. It may take years to get "the full picture" of what happened to those who came to the US. We all have our "brick walls" waiting to be knocked down.