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University Library DePaul Library

Additional Tips

  • U.S. Census –
    • Different census years asked different questions.  You can view blank census forms online to see what information was collected. (
    • Relatives often tended to live with or near each other.  By researching one family, you may find others that are related to you.
  • When searching online sources such as census or passenger lists, try variations of spelling.  Remember that these documents were handwritten so sometimes if the handwriting wasn’t clear, the indexer may have spelled the name wrong and you have to search by the indexed name (not the correct one) to find your family.  NOTE: some search engines allow for SOUNDEX searching.  That will search by the sound of the name so that you get approximations not just exact spellings. (SOUNDEX calculator:, SOUNDEX coding explanation:
  • Tips for Reading Old Handwriting
  • When searching for places of birth, remember that the country reported may have changed over time depending on geopolitical boundaries and events.
  • Search for obituaries.  It’s a great way to find out maiden names of the women in your family.  You can also find out children’s, spouses, and other family names.  (See Newspapers)
  • Some city directories and historical voter’s lists are available online. and Cyndi’s List will guide you to some, but you can also Google to find other materials.