29 October 2012

Disasters and Genealogy -- our ancestors were greatly affected by natural events, like "Sandy," also!

With “Sandy” approaching and many taking important safety precautions ... I thought it appropriate to post about past disasters and related and how they impact our search for our ancestors.  It might be that records are missing due to a natural disaster.  Or maybe crops were destroyed, factories ruined or livelihoods otherwise impacted.  This may have cause families to move, prematurely filled cemeteries, etc.  Unfortunately, disasters do give us records about our family – often not records of the warm and fuzzy kind and yet how they were affected by a disaster tells us a lot about their lives and our heritage!

Though, I have to laugh as I went to visit my favorite “disasters” site, GenDisasters, since it has a genealogy focus to find that the message on the home page reads ...

This page has gone missing. It could have been lost at sea, swept away by a storm, or been buried under a landslide.

The page may be here hiding under a different name. So, there's a good chance that we have the article on that train wreck, hurricane, fire, etc.

Please click below to go to the main page of the site - from there you can use the search engine or browse the articles by state or province, type of disaster, and year - to see if you can locate the material.

And, if you just do a Google (or similar) search on GenDisasters – the sub-pages are listed and you can still use the site.  For example, this link takes you to the “browse by state” feature.

Here are some other articles and resources for incorporating “disasters” and related into your research as well as the stories of your ancestors:

  1. Diseases, Disasters & Distress: Bad For Your Ancestors, Good For Your Genealogical Research
  2. Top 10 Deadliest U.S. Natural Disasters
  3. Timelines of Historic Disasters & Epidemics

Do you have a favorite source for information about what disasters might have befallen our ancestors?

Were your ancestors affected by such?  My great grandmother died in the flu epidemic of 1918 and I have not yet uncovered any “natural” disasters in historical records though I will never forget hurricane Fran when it hit Raleigh in 1996 ...

copyright © National Genealogical Society, 3108 Columbia Pike, Suite 300, Arlington, Virginia 22204-4370. http://www.ngsgenealogy.org.
NGS does not imply endorsement of any outside advertiser or other vendors appearing in this blog.
Republication of UpFront articles is permitted and encouraged for non-commercial purposes without express permission from NGS. Please drop us a note telling us where and when you are using the article. Express written permission is required if you wish to republish UpFront articles for commercial purposes. You may send a request for express written permission to [email protected]. All republished articles may not be edited or reworded and must contain the copyright statement found at the bottom of each UpFront article.
Follow NGS via Facebook, YouTube, Google+, Twitter
Think your friends, colleagues, or fellow genealogy researchers would find this blog post interesting? If so, please let them know that anyone can read past UpFront with NGS posts or subscribe!
Suggestions for topics for future UpFront with NGS posts are always welcome. Please send any suggested topics to [email protected]


  1. The home page for Gendisasters is now working properly again -- corresponded with the webpage owner via FB and "for now" all is well! Do check out the site. It's been around for years and very very interesting even if your family was fortunate to not live through or perish in a disaster! http://www3.gendisasters.com/

  2. And, if you are the person managing a repository of some kind, you might find these suggestions helpful, http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/what-katrina-can-teach-libraries-about-sandy-and-other-disasters/40986