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Kimberly Powell

Did You Turn the Page?

By April 15, 2014

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You've found your ancestor's name in an online database, and better yet you can even view the actual digitized record, possibly packed with more details than you were hoping to discover. It's so easy to stop right there and celebrate! Yet, no matter where you find that "ah ha!" clue to your ancestor, take a deep breath and calm yourself down long enough to turn the page. Browse the index at the back of the book. Turn over that marriage record and look at the back. Click the "previous" and "next" buttons to view additional pages in an online record collection. Flip to the beginning and end of the record set to learn more about the records, or view addendums.

Just because your answer isn't found in alphabetical or chronological order doesn't mean it's not there. And finding an answer doesn't mean there isn't even more to see. Here are just a few of many, many examples where turning the page, whether physically or virtually, may yield additional information on your ancestors.

1830 U.S. Census - Did you realize that the 1830 U.S. census schedules are two pages long? I know I missed this important fact when I was a new researcher. The first 1830 census page includes the usual name of head of household, plus the number of free white males and females in age categories. Turning to the second page, you'll also find (if applicable) the number of slaves owned by that person; the number of male and female slaves and free "colored" persons by age categories; the number of foreigners (not naturalized) in a household; and the number of deaf, dumb, and blind persons within a household. Of course for any census it is valuable to view several pages on either side of the one where your ancestor was enumerated as you may find valuable insights in neighboring households.

Passenger Manifests - When looking at a ship passenger manifest, always scroll, click or flip to the next page in case the recorded passenger information extends over more than one page -- as it does for many post-1906 U.S. passenger manifests where a second page often includes such valuable information such as the name and address of the relative or friend in the US where the passenger is headed, place of birth (from 1906), and whether the passenger has previously been in the U.S. and, if so, when and where. Take time to look at the beginning and end of the manifest as well. The first page often includes information on the ship, while at the end (beginning about 1903 for U.S. passenger manifests) you may find a list of individuals who died during the voyage, or were detained for health or other reasons, such as "likely to become a public charge."

Marriage Records on FamilySearch - When handling a physical document a good researcher generally won't forget to turn it over and look at the back. The "back" when considering digitized records, generally means looking at the next or previous page. New Hampshire Marriage Records, 1637-1947 in the FamilySearch Historical Records Collection provide an excellent example. A search for "William Gavin" leads to a marriage record for William Gavin and Ellen Holland recorded in Wilford, New Hampshire with all sorts of details on the bride and groom, plus the date and place of marriage. It's easy to think that's all that was recorded, but browse to the next page (the back of the marriage card) and you'll also find the names and other vital information on the parents of both the bride and groom.

Naturalization Files on Ancestry.com - If you are viewing a digital image online, a good rule of thumb is to always view at least the previous and next page as well.  Depending on how the records were assembled, or the collection compiled, there may be additional pages or records which pertain to your ancestor. The U.S. Naturalization Records - Original Documents, 1795-1972 (World Archives Project) database online at Ancestry.com is a prime example of this. While your search may take you to a single page Declaration of Intention or Certificate of Arrival," preceding or subsequent pages may (not always) include additional naturalization documents from the file such as the "Petition for Naturalization."

Tax Lists (Poll & Property) - At the end of a poll or property tax list you may find another smaller list of defaulters. The defaulter may have moved out of the area, or was absent for that particular period. He might also have been exempt from taxes for a time (e.g. military), or just failed to pay his taxes. Single men, free negroes, widows, or men who were being taxed on land they owned in the area but were living elsewhere may also be pulled out in separate lists.

Have any great turn the page examples of your own to share? Please add it as a "comment" below.

August 28, 2012 at 10:15 am
(1) Judy G. Russell, CG says:

Oh yeah… I too missed all those second pages of the early census returns when I was starting out.

August 28, 2012 at 11:35 pm
(2) Roberta says:

My father’s line seemed impossible to follow. I only had memories from my visit as 3 year old. My parents marriage license, My birth certificate, My father’s separation papers from the Cee Bees.
complicated by the fact my father’s given name was. Lois , he said
his parents didn’t know how to spell Lewis.
After years of getting no place I was looking over their marriage
license and thinking about the two witnesses who signed.
One being his sister, Alice.I decided to post this fact and received a response from her daughter.
She shared the information her mother had along with a phot of his parents. A census listing the family and information about his given name. She wrote:
‘You are right that it was a misspelling, but they weren’t trying to spell Lewis. They had heard the name Loyce and liked it but evidently had no idea how to spell it. When anyone would speak of him they would call him either Loyce or Jack. Like you, I have no idea where the Jack came from’
My grandma always said, ‘There’s more than one way to skin a cat!’.

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