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The hidden gems on FamilySearch

Time and again The Legal Genealogist hears it from those who share this researcher’s preference for finding ancestors at 3 a.m. while wearing bunny slippers: wouldn’t it be nice if all those records that FamilySearch has on microfilm were digitized and readily available online?

Yep.

Yep, it sure would be.

And — someday — I’m sure it will be.

But for a whole lot of records, “someday” is already here.

Because there are an awful lot of hidden gems on FamilySearch.

You see, an awful lot of the time, we head over to FamilySearch.org, go to the Search tab, choose Records, then plug in a name in the search box, maybe add enough identifiers to filter out most of the results that won’t be our subject, and hope for the best. Say, for example, we’re looking for a Jim or James Keith who was a young man in Parker County, Texas, in the 1920s.

And we don’t find what we want. No hits for our subject at all.

Now we may go on and look at the records using the link to “Browse all published collections” and check to see if there are county records that have been digitized and are online for the county where we think our subject lived.

And we don’t find what we want. No records for Parker County online.

Are we done?

Nope. Our lesson for today: Don’t give up.

There’s one big place yet to be checked, right there on FamilySearch.

Drop down the search menu and, this time, choose Catalog instead of Records.

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Then when the search box comes up, hit the Keyword button and let it open up another place to enter search terms:

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When I did that and searched for Parker court records, it told me there were 207 possible hits — but we all know most of those won’t be relevant — and, we might think, most won’t be online.

Not so fast.

Go over to the left menu, scroll down and look at this:

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If I choose those available online records, one of them is for the collection entitled “Civil minutes, 1874-1925; general index, 1874-1961; civil papers, 1883- 1930” from the Parker County District Court. Scroll down and it tells me there’s a general index with most volumes individually indexed — and one volume jumps out. Volume 14. Covering the period from 1925 to 1931.

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Why? It’s online. You can tell by the camera icon on the right hand side.

And in that volume what do we find?

On the 2nd of November 1925, Jim B. Keith, a minor over the age of 19 years, petitioned for the removal of his disabilities as a minor. His father, E.E. Keith, was dead; his mother Mrs. Stracy H. Keith had waived any objections “and had requested the court to grant said petition.”1

And “it appearing to the court … that it is advisable and would be advantageous to the said Jim B. Keith…,” the court agreed: “said minor shall be deemed and held for all legal purposes of full age.”2

Now I don’t know for certain just why Jim Keith wanted or needed to be able to act as an adult. I can’t help but wonder if it didn’t have something to do with the fact that, the next time we find him, he’s in the U.S. Army in Panama.3 Maybe he wanted to join, and Mom wouldn’t or couldn’t sign for him.

What I do know for certain is this: there are an awful lot of hidden gems on FamilySearch — records that have been digitized and are online, if we just know how to find them.


SOURCES

  1. Parker County, Texas, District Court, Civil Minutes Book 14: 31 (2 Nov 1925); digital images, Civil minutes, 1874-1925; general index, 1874-1961; civil papers, 1883-1930,” FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org : accessed 14 Nov 2016).
  2. Ibid., Civil Minutes Book 14: 32.
  3. 1930 U.S. census, Corozal Army Post, Balboa District, Panama Canal Zone, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 9, sheet 6A, p. 188 (stamped), dwelling 18, Jim B. Keith; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 14 Nov 2016); citing National Archive microfilm publication T626, roll 2638.
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