Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Tuesday's Tip-Gettin' By With Help from Our Friends~Cathy Meder-Dempsey

This week's Tuesday's Tips come from our friend Cathy Meder-Dempsy from Opening Doors in Brick Walls.

My father was born and raised in West Virginia as were his parents and grandparents. Even his great-grandparents, for the most part, lived in West Virginia before it seceded from Virginia and became a state in 1863. When I was new to US research I was overwhelmed by the things I did not know.
The first tip I ever received was to consider the formation of the counties in Virginia and West Virginia when researching my ancestors from the (West) Virginia area. I can't tell you how many times I've gone to RootWeb's History of County Formations in Virginia 1617-1995 to learn which county an ancestor was living in at a certain time. This tip can be used for any stateby searching the name of state + county formation map.
My favorite site to go to for West Virginia birth, marriage, and death records is the West Virginia Vital Research Records (WVVRR) database on the state's Archives and History website. The direct link to the database is http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_select.aspx. I have it bookmarked on my browser's toolbar - in the middle, all by itself, i.e. not in a folder. Best of all, it's FREE.
WVVRR, or WVCulture as most users refer to it, is a West Virginia research project in collaboration with FamilySearch.org and includes county birth, death and marriage records, selected statewide death records, and some delayed birth certificates. Every 1st of January they add another year of records. Birth records are private for 100 years and death records for 50 years. At the beginning of 2016 birth records to 31 December 1915 and death records to 31 December 1965 were added. County marriage records don't have a withholding requirement and are available up to the last year microfilmed.
Births, deaths, and marriages have their own search page - on the right side, is a list of the counties and the years records are available. The search criteria is limited to the first and last name, county, and year the record was created (+/- 5 yrs). Wildcards can be used however other names found on the record such as parents or spouse are not searchable. To work around this, I have a tip I often share with others. The databases are also available and searchable on FamilySearch.org and linked back to the images on WVCulture.
The search parameters and filters on FamilySearch make it easier to locate records in the  collections. Names may have been recorded or indexed differently but in most cases FamilySearch will show these in their hints/results. Filters can be set for the time and place of the event as well as a relationship, i.e. spouse, parents, other persons. This is especially helpful when searching for individuals who are "hiding" due to changes in surname - a child enumerated with a stepfather's surname, a woman who has remarried. Not to forget the young ones who died before they were enumerated in a census. I call these the "lost children" since they may otherwise not be found.
For quick searches WVCulture is perfect. For more refined searches FamilySearch is the best place to go.
Best wishes,
Cathy Meder-Dempsey, 58, grew up as a military brat and lived in Georgia, France, Idaho, West Virginia, Spain, South Carolina, Texas, and Luxembourg. Married 38 years, mother of two grown children, fluent in four languages, she's been blogging at Opening Doors in Brick Walls for nearly three years. Outside of genealogy research and writing for her blog, she is the treasurer of her genealogy association Luxracines, and enjoys riding her racing bike with her husband through the Luxembourg countryside.

 Fantastic resources for West Virginia research! Thanks, Cathy!

What are your best resource tips?

Are we kin? Need help with your research? Please contact me.
Together we can find our people.
Thanks so much for stopping by!

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