Archive for October, 2009

WorldVitalRecords Database in Review: Sims Index

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

Sims Index to Land Grants in West Virginia (

Land records comprise one of the most important sources for early American genealogical research, since sometimes they are the only records that can place an individual in a particular place at a particular time. For this reason Sims Index to Land Grants in West Virginia is an essential resource for anyone researching their early Virginia/West Virginia ancestors. A comprehensive guide to pre-1900 land records in West Virginia (which until 1863 was part of the Commonwealth of Virginia), Sims Index lists land grants that were made by Lord Fairfax prior to the creation of the Virginia Land Office in 1779, as well as those issued by the Commonwealth of Virginia for land now located in West Virginia, and by the State of West Virginia under its first Constitution.

The information contained in this exhaustive compilation was compiled by Edgar Sims, the State Auditor of West Virginia, from copies of land grants filed in his office. More than 50,000 entries are included, each containing the name of the grantee, amount of acreage, location and date of grant, and the grant book and page numbers. Sims meticulously examined each record to ensure that the spellings of the names of grantees, location, and descriptions of tracts were accurate, and that any variations of spellings of grantees’ names were also indexed or noted. Records are listed for Barbour, Berkeley, Boone, Braxton, Brooke, Cabell, Calhoun, Clay, Doddridge, Fayette, Gilmer, Grant, Greenbrier, Hampshire, Hancock, Hardy, Harrison, Jackson, Jefferson, Kanawha, Lewis, Logan, Marion, Marshall, Mason, McDowell, Mercer, Monongalia, Monroe, Morgan, Nicholas, Ohio, Pendleton, Pleasants, Pocahontas, Preston, Putnam, Raleigh, Randolph, Ritchie, Roane, Taylor, Tucker, Tyler, Uphur, Wayne, Webster, Wetzel, Wirt, Wood, and Wyoming counties, West Virginia, as well as for the portions of Augusta, Bath, Botetourt, Frederick, Montgomery, Russell, Tazewell, and Wythe counties, Virginia, that were used in the formation of West Virginia.

In a great many cases the land grants indexed here pre-date the earliest extant census records or supplement existing census records, and are thus indispensable for finding individuals who lived in the area that later became West Virginia.

Places to Research

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

by Gena Philibert Ortega

The following list is adapted from the book, The Weekend Genealogist: Timesaving Techniques for Effective Research. By Marcia Yannizze Melnyk. Ohio:BetterwayBooks, 2000. It can be found on page 108. I have included website links to some of the resources on the list.

Groups of Societies that May Already Have the Information You Need:

National Archives and Records Administration
Family History Library and local Family History Center
Vital Records Offices- State, County, or Town
State Archives
Daughters of the American Revolution
Historical Societies-State, County, Local
Genealogical Societies-State, County, Local
• Surname Societies and Family Associations
Libraries-Public, State, College, and Academic
Town Halls
• County Courts-Probate, Land, and Vital Records
• Fraternal Organizations
• Ethnic Organizations
• Churches
• Cemeteries and Undertakers
• Internet
• Employers
• Occupational Organizations
• Book Publishers-Historical and Genealogical
• Military Facilities

Using Google Scholar

Monday, October 5th, 2009

By Gena Philibert Ortega

Google Scholar,, is a specialty search engine powered by Google that you can use to find scholarly type articles and books on topics related to history and genealogy. While you are less likely to find an article or book about your particular ancestor, you may just find an article about the place, era, occupation, or religion of your ancestor which can then help you learn more about their life.

According to Google Scholar’s about page,”you can search across many disciplines and sources: peer-reviewed papers, thesis, books, abstracts and articles, from academic publishers, professional societies, preprint repositories, universities and other scholarly organizations. Google Scholar helps you identify the most relevant research across the world of scholarly research.”

Now in some cases, the articles might be available through services that are subscription based. That’s ok-just jot down the title of the article, author, publication title, volume, number and number of pages. Then go to your local library and explain that you need an inter-library loan on an article. Basically, they can then find the article and ask a library that has that journal to copy the appropriate pages for you.

From the Google Scholar homepage, you can type in your phrase or keyword that you are interested in searching. If you prefer you can click on the link, ‘Advanced Scholar Search’ and limit and define your search more precisely. Advanced Scholar Search allows you to choose the exact phrase to search and what words to leave out of a search. You can even specify articles written by a particular author, published in a certain journal or in a specific time period. If you want, you can even tell Google Scholar what academic fields that you want to see articles from. This can be good when using a term like “genealogy” which can have meaning in other fields like philosophy and biology.