Everyone knows that Portland is in Oregon, don’t they, but what year did that area develop?


Did you know that in earlier times, it was in the Oregon Territories?




And when did Saskatchewan become a province, eh?


These details about states, provinces, counties, and other events, can be overwhelming if you try to remember them all.




keep a genealogy resource file

Start to develop and keep a genealogy resource file; or you could file papers in your family Genealogy folders or create a computer folder in your Genealogy master folder with specific dates and places to keep track of.

For example, you may need to know when your ancestors emigrated into the USA, in order to determine where to research their entry. Although you may think you know a great deal about Ellis Island and immigration, it was used for screening immigrants from these dates only – January 1, 1892 to 1924.

However, during those years over 400,000 immigrants were screened via the Barge Office (at the tip of Manhattan) in 1891 before the official immigration office was opened. Those dates, 1892-1924, would be useful to have in a handy form, wouldn’t they?

Before that time, Castle Garden (Castle Clinton) at the southern tip of Manhattan, NY City, was an immigrant receiving center from August 1,1855 to April 18, 1890 – more good dates to know.

Search “US immigration, timeline” for more information, including how to search both Ellis Island and Castle Garden records.

Did your ancestors come to North America from another country?

Ireland, for instance?

It would help to know dates of the major famine periods in Ireland, (search “famines, Ireland”) as well as where most emigrating Irish families landed in Canada or the United States.

Or, if they crossed the sea to England, where might they have landed there?

ArchivesIf you are searching censuses in England, many counties changed boundaries several times, particularly after the 1974 Boundary Changes, but some changed prior to that time.

One line of my family lived in the Black Midlands, and their town (Dudley) changed counties several times between Staffordshire and Worcestershire. I was sure that others must have recorded the county incorrectly, until I found an article detailing the various changes in boundaries!

Search online for “British counties, changes” and you will find several excellent sites with details.

You can imagine how important this information could be when searching through Censuses! I’ve learned to check on maps, and look in nearby counties, states, provinces, when researching an ancestor’s residences over time.

We are used to registering every life event with the government, but such was not the case in our ancestors’ days.

For example, passenger lists were not required to be recorded and filed until 1865 in Canada, 1820 in the USA, 1837 in much of England.

In Germany, some vital statistic registrations began in 1792, others not until 1876, varying by state, and they were not kept in a central repository. In general, birth, marriage, death registrations were not required until a state/county or province was formed and had a center for records.

This date of “vital statistics” is remarkably varied throughout the world, and you will need to have the details for each place, in order to search successfully and efficiently for your ancestors.

My personal Genealogy Resource File includes the following (based on my particular ancestors):

  1. Canadian Provinces/Territories, dates of Confederation and Civil Registration – and maps!
  2. Canadian ships passenger lists source (at Library & Archives)
  3. Border Crossings dates, and Passport requirements for both US and Canada
  4. Canadian land grants periods
  5. U.S. States (PA, CT, NY, MA, ME, WA, OR) and county borders, history of formation
  6. Immigration dates for Ellis Island, Crystal Garden
  7. US cities receiving immigration ships; dates
  8. Dates of US wars from 1600-1945
  9. UK Civil registrations, where held
  10. UK counties, border changes, where to find details
  11. Scotland, Ireland church registrations, census dates
  12. The German Palatine emigration paths
  13. Blank Census forms for Canada, USA, UK

…and much more! Pensions, social insurance records, railway historical maps – there is no end to the variety of resources available to help you.

I also have old and current maps of all sorts including of villages, land grants, towns, county borders, plus details of various historical events which might have impacted on my ancestors’ lives.

All of these resources in a genealogy resource file would make your research more efficient and accurate, plus these resources will allow you to provide correct citations of the sources you find.

Enjoy your research and build up your own personalized Genealogy Resource File!

Now that you understand some of the common issues of internet genealogy, you may want to look at other helpful resources.


About the Author

Celia Lewis, MA, is a Genealogy Consultant who loves both mysteries and families, finding Genealogy research a perfect fit! Now retired, she enjoys having the time to pursue her passions, along with spending time with her five grandchildren.

photo credit: waterlilysage via photopin cc