Documenting Your Past

Documenting Your Past
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As we research our families, we are basically documenting their past lives. We are searching for clues to their births, marriages, deaths, and other events that occurred in their life. An exciting website, Documenting Your Past might just have that exciting and fascinating document that will help you discover even more about your family.

Their mission statement reads, “To provide a dynamic genealogical database of names drawn from everyday documents used by our ancestors, for the purpose of establishing a record outside of the traditional government archives.” Documenting Your Past offers a dynamic database of historical items from the early 1800s through 1945. Items include envelopes, letters, deeds, land grants, insurance policies, checks, bills, receipts, stock certificates and other miscellaneous documents and records that detail the daily lives of the people who created the history of our great country. What a true treasure!

Here is how the searches works:

  • Our database offers an enormous amount of flexibility in performing searches specific to your needs. Only one field in any category needs to be filled in to obtain results. Of course the more information you enter, the more specific the search results will be. For example, when searching for people, you can search by first name or initial or by last name only, with no other field required.

  • When searching by date, no name is need to initiate a search. If you type in 1865, the database will pull up anything from January 1, 1860, to December 31, 1869. This allows you to search by decade. Many genealogists are interested in the history of the period their ancestors lived in and this allows you to look at items.from a specified time period.

  • Location searches are just as simple. Type in Boston and any items related to Boston will be returned. Likewise, type in the name of a state and any items related to that state will be returned.

What is exciting is that “Documenting Your Past” posts a picture of the document. You can view and decide if this pertains to your family. And if it does you can purchase it! How exciting is that? If you are unable to find your family, they have a Watch List where you can submit up to ten searches. If a new submissions matches your search, you will receive an email with a link to the document to check and see if it matches your family. I have entered my surnames and cannot wait to see if one day there is a match. If you post to the “Watch List” and get an email, come share with us in the genealogy forum your matches.

Some of the ways you can search is by surname, dates, and places. An example of a unique document you can purchase or order scanned photos of is Item ID: LE000052 - Name(s): Jean Betty, H Burroughs, James Shearer, William Miller, N Wilson, J Campbell: Surveyor General's Office of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, dated Dec. 22, 1871, to the Prothonotary (chief clerk of the court, used only by Pennsylvania and Delaware) of Mifflin County, Pennsylvania, against 110 acres 124 and perches of land located in Bratton Township, Mifflin County. The property was owned by Jean Betty and the lien was paid by H. N. Burroughs, William Miller, and James Shearer. Signed N. C. Wilson, for J. M. Campbell, Surveyor General. Lien is embossed with a red seal for the Surveyor's General Office, Pennsylvania. Can you just imagine one of the descendants of those named finding this document!

If you have any questions or comments, there is a page where you can contact them directly. Visit Documenting Your Past and let us know what great document from the past you have discovered!

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Content copyright © 2021 by Tina Sansone. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Tina Sansone. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Tina Sansone for details.