What Is In the Finding Aid

FamilySearch allows users to enter in fields in search boxes for those fields even if the information is not included in their database. Sometimes this is because the information was not in the record being indexed. Other times it is simply because the information was not captured when FamilySearch was indexing the information.

A case in point are the naturalization records from Illinois. For records from many counties, the county of the record was not captured. That’s the case with George Trautvetter’s naturalization from 1855 in Hancock County and others I have used as well from a variety of locations within Illinois. Some entries have locations more precise than the state attached to them. Others do not.

With names as unusual as this it really doesn’t matter. There are not many Trautvetters to filter through. Searching by a more precise location than the state does not matter. It does hinder my ability to search for John Johnson in the database when I cannot narrow my search by location.

Of course someone during the pre-1906 time period could go to any court and naturalize–not just the one in the county in which they lived. But I wish FamilySearch had included more geographic information in this database. It is contained in the actual record as the records used to create this finding aid were (mostly) county court records of naturalization.

To find John Johnson, whom I believe likely naturalized in either Hancock County (where lived) or possibly Adams County (near where he lived and where he had in-laws living), it’s probably best to search the old-fashioned way: use the actual record volumes (images in this case), see if the individual volumes are indexed, and go from there. There will be some wading to do (as I have to wade through all the Hancock County naturalization), but that’s a small amount of wading than going through all the search results for a John Johnson in this database without the ability to effectively search by location.

It’s always a good idea to search for a practice person and look at the results–see what information is included in the index and what is not. That’s a great way to know how to construct your searches and it’s a great way to know if you might just have to search the images the old fashioned way.

That’s what I’m doing for John Johnson.


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