By Tony Bandy
Interested in discovering more information about the work your ancestors did? Our Family Tree, which offers a unique online database containing information on the occupations of over 96,000 historical persons, may be able to help. Records on nearly 60 professions are included on the site – most of them religious or government positions such as ministers, lighthouse keepers, postmasters, sheriffs, mayors, commissioners and town clerks. Simply search for your ancestors by name or sort by location, source or profession. Once you locate a match the site will list the person’s occupation and point you to the original free online source.
Searching Our Family Tree’s Occupational Records
You can search the database here by name, location (state, county, place), profession, religious denomination, name variations and more. If you’re searching by name, you can even use word variations or just word stems to get results. This is a nice feature for tracking down ancestors whose names were regularly misspelled or where variations are present.
You can enter any or all of the following search terms – first, last, state, county or place – and generally you will find the results to be of a very manageable size.
However, if you find that you are dealing with too many results and have enough information to justify an advanced search, this option is available as well by going directly to the Advanced Search tab. From here select multiple fields to get started.
Next to the Advanced Search you will see several other tabs. The Recent tab indicates records that have just been added to the database, while the Summary tab gives an excellent breakdown of record counts and information by state and profession type. Don’t overlook the blue Other Records search box in the top right corner of the web page as way to shortcut and find additional information.
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Examining Your Results and Accessing the Source
Once you’ve searched, sorted and then drilled down to a single record or record set, what options do you have? Quite a few. To view the source records (where you will likely discover additional information) you will want to look to the right of the returned record(s). Here a red link to the online document can be found. Selecting this link takes you to the source where you can examine it in closer detail.
Using an example ancestor, a Mr. Harvey who was a minister in Indiana in the late 19th century, the selected link leads us to the Internet Archive and a document called A history of the North Indiana Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church. With the source in hand it’s easy to find the information that we need – such as service details, dates and locations.
However, there’s more to the original results that could prove helpful to your research. If we go back to our single returned result you will note that it mentioned North Webster, Methodist Church. By selecting that link you can sort by this “place” and pull up more information and persons associated with it. This is a great feature to have for locating information on additional family members and neighbors.
What occupations did your ancestors have?
Freelance writer, family researcher, and librarian/historian, Tony Bandy can be found at Adventures in History.
Image: By Orange County Archives from Orange County, California, United States of America – Orange County Sheriff Theo Lacy on horseback, 1890s, CC BY 2.0
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