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US: Institutional Records
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Focusing on vital records and the census can yield a rather incomplete picture of our ancestors'' lives. Many researchers may avoid examining institutional records because they believe it is demeaning to the ancestor, or they believe the records will not shed any new information. Institutional records often contain a wealth of information. This course will introduce the student to records of institutions such as orphanages, prisons, poor houses, asylums, and schools. Students will learn how to determine the correct institution, how to find the records, and how to use the records to lead to new sources. The course also covers possible difficulties in records access.

One studentís experience:
To hear a student discussion regarding their experience with this course, please click here. (This is a large file and may take a minute or two to download.)


Introduction to Institutional Records
  • What Types of Institutions This Course Will Focus Upon
  • Sponsors of Institutions
  • Terminology

    WEEK 2
    Clues to Institutionalization
    Records at Home
    Death Records
    Court Records
    Clues in the Census
  • 1830 and 1840 Censuses
  • 1850, 1860, and 1870 Censuses
  • 1880 Census (population)
  • 1880 Defective, Dependent, and Delinquent Schedules
  • Finding 1880 DDD Schedules
  • 1890-1930
    State and Local Censuses

    WEEK 3
    The Sick, The Poor, And Orphans
    Brief History of Almshouses and Poor Farms

    Records of County Homes, Asylums, and Other Institutions for the Poor and Sick
  • Admission Registers
  • Death Records
  • Annual Reports
  • Trustees Minutes
  • Clothing Allowances
  • Day Books
  • Published Histories

    Children''s Homes and Orphanages
  • Records of Orphanages

    Homes for Veterans and Their Families
  • Veterans Homes
  • Veterans'' Orphans'' Homes
  • Resources

    WEEK 4
    Brief History of Education in America
  • Primary and Secondary Schools
  • Higher Education
  • State Schools

    The Records
  • Yearbooks
  • Alumni Directories
  • Class Registers
  • Newspapers
  • Sunday Schools
  • Teacher''s Records
  • School censuses

    WEEK 5
    Prisons and Jails
    Brief History of Prisons and Jails
  • Local and County Jails
  • Jail Registers
  • State and Federal State Penitentiaries
  • Prisoner Registers
    Admission Registers

  • How Reared (Himself)
  • At Home or Elsewhere: At home

    List of Escapees
    Bertillon Records
    Pardon and Parole Records
    Execution Lists

    Juvenile Offenders
  • Admission Records
  • Placement Records

    Military Prisons and Prisoner of War Camps
    Roster of Prisoners
    Hospital, Death, and Cemetery Records

    WEEK 6
    Finding the Records
    Determining the Correct Institution
  • City and County Directories
  • State Manuals
  • County Histories
  • Local Societies and Libraries

    Finding the Records
  • The Institution
  • State Archives
  • State Libraries
  • State Historical Societies
  • Public Libraries
  • Family History Library, Salt Lake City
  • Periodical Source Index
  • County USGenWeb site
  • County Histories
  • State Manuals


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