Have you ever found a record for your ancestor and wondered if there was more to the story? Most of the time the answer is yes. Ancestry.com is a great resource for records. For some of those records, what you see is only the tip of the iceberg.
The best example of this are the naturalization index records. You may have seen one for your ancestor. This small card with general information will list the name of the ancestor, a location for the naturalization, some dates and some important numbers. Many people believe this is the only information available for that naturalization. The truth is, this is only a brief description of the actual record. The index cards are just that, they are indexes to the actual records.
As you locate one of these naturalization index cards, take note of the source information and description that ancestry.com lists below the thumbnail photo of the record. This database contains indexes to U.S. naturalization records (primarily Declarations and Petitions) for various courts (primarily U.S. District and Circuit courts) and years.
You can then take this information and contact the appropriate court listed with the numbers you have on this index card. The court can then pull the full naturalization record for you.
Some birth, marriage and death records located on ancestry, have a copy of the original document. Others will list a transcription of the record. You can take this transcription and contact the appropriate repository that ancestry has listed online. In some cases, you may have to order microfilm and search for the record that way.
If you find a military record on ancestry.com, there may be more service records available out there. Again, take note of the source information and description to see if there may be more out there. Draft cards are an example of something that contains only basic information. The original draft cards are held by each state’s National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) Regional Branch.
You can contact the National Archives in the State your ancestor lived in to obtain more records. Their website contains information on how to contact them. If you write NARA, they will get back to you within a week with an answer. NARA can send you copies of what they have to your address.
There is always more than the basic information to be discovered. Take a second look and see what’s out there.
Family History Detective