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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 student’s 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.)


Course Content

Module 1
Institutional Records
 
Introduction
Types of Institutions We Will Focus Upon
Sponsors of Institutions
What Information May Be Found
Access to the Records
Terminology
 

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

Module 3
The Sick, The Poor, And Orphans
 
Brief History of Almshouses and Poor Farms
Terminology
 
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
• Institution Cemeteries
 
Children’s Homes and Orphanages
• Records of Orphanages
 
Homes for Veterans and Their Families
• Veterans Homes
• Veterans’ Orphans’ Homes
• Resources
 
Suggested Reading 
 

Module 4
Schools
 
Brief History of Education in America
• Primary and Secondary Schools
• Higher Education
• State Schools
 
The Records
• Yearbooks
• Alumni Directories
• Class Registers
• Admission Registers
• Annual Reports
• Newspapers
• Sunday Schools
• Teacher’s Records
• School Censuses
 

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

Module 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
• FamilySearch
• Ancestry
• ArchiveGrid
• Periodical Source Index
• County USGenWeb Website
• County Histories
• State Manuals
 
 

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