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  1. In the other threads, we've talked about well-known places to get you started (Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org, etc.), and everybody knows the common sources like vital records (birth/marriage/death certificates), census records, etc. What's a source you like or have had success with that people might not know? (Bonus points for sources that go back past 1850, when the aforementioned ones aren't as useful.) The two that stand out for me as I think about this: Probate records: Wills and court records that show how a deceased person's estate was divided. If you know where they died and when, and can find such a record, you can net some relatives' names and get a glimpse into their life story. I found an extensive handwritten will left by one fairly well-off relative in Indiana and it filled in several pieces that were a mystery until that point. Newspapers: Beyond genealogy-specific sources like Ancestry.com, there are several online services specializing in putting newspapers online and scanning and indexing their text, and even Google can find these occasionally. If your relative has a rare or unusually-spelled name (as my grandfather did), and ever made the news, you can find out where and when they lived and again get some details on what was going on in their life. Smaller town newspapers had a lot of community news (who's doing what) so it wasn't just crime and politics that might have made them "newsworthy". What are some of the lesser-known sources you use in your research? Success stories are always fun and motivating!
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