15 January 2015

Hidden Gems -- Record Collections Which Hold Records You Wouldn't Expect


Many of us who have been around the block a bit as far as doing research, are pretty willing to check out all kinds of record collections as long as we believe the cover the place and time of interest.

That said, if, on the surface, they don’t seem to be for the right place and/or time, we have a tendency to skip over them!  Often that is part of a smart strategy and on occasion, it might not be our smartest move.

I was reminded that we might be missing out on some hidden gems when we do this.  I was also reminded that it is really, really important to read the description of what a collection includes.  Sometimes we find that the description informs us of what is NOT included (e.g. certain counties might be missing from a state-level collection) or in this case, that the collection is NOT limited to those living in Delaware (you’ll understand this statement after you read further)!

The Michigan Family Trails blog reminded me of this with the post, OCCUPATION FILES ON ANCESTRY–1600-1995–What are they? Have you seen these?

My short answers were 1. I have no idea and 2. No.

The longer answer is that I went and check this collection out on Ancestry.com.  (Editor’s NOTE: You will need an ancestry.com subscription or access to one via a local library etc in order to access this collection).

The collection is officially called – Delaware, Craftperson Files, 1600-1995.  Basically, these are card file images from the Winterthur Library which is located in Winterthur, DE.  I think you can now figure out where the collection title comes from.


I did a search on entries for North Carolina and there are many.  This image just shows you a few entries of the about 900 entries (of 146,994 total) which pertain to North Carolina artisans.  Since crafts people often learned such from family and/or by being apprentices, looking into such individuals is always great fun!  I always want to try and figure out how/where/when/from who did they learn their craft.  Besides the New England states and other southern states, I also saw entries for Midwestern states like IN and OH.

This means that someone who is a craftsperson, which can include blacksmiths, furniture makers, metalsmiths and the finer crafts, might be found included in this collection.

Are there collections you have come across (not limited to Ancestry.com) which on the surface seem limited in an obvious way and yet are not – like our Delaware, Craftperson Files?





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