Genealogy or History Research

Suggestions by Dale and Loita Hawkinson with KHS

October 29th 2008

The Bare Basics

1.  Research requires a high-speed computer connection:  cable or high-speed modem.  If not available, research can be done at the library.

2.  If working from home, it is helpful to first set up two folders. The first is a “Favorites” folder titled Family Research (or any other name that you and others will remember and will be obvious later on).  Set up a photo folder for records that can be copied from the web.  These two folders are important because people often find information accidentally or after hours of looking.  It helps to either copy that found page as a photo if possible or save the link in your favorites.

3.  You need both the King County Library card (which is Kirkland ) and the Seattle Library card.  You can apply for both on line providing you live in the Seattle area.

Seattle Library Card Application

King County Library card application

 Resea rch sites

Heritage Quest is on both King County Library and the Seattle Public Library sites.  Heritage Quest has the Federal Census records, complete books, digitized newspapers, nineteenth century newspapers, obituaries, and more.  and or

Google:  “King County Library” or “ Kirkland Library”.

Sanborn fire maps which are historic maps are available at the Seattle Public Library Site:  or Google “Seattle Public Library”.

The Family History and Genealogy Site:  This is the site run by the Mormons.

Land Records are available at: or Google “BLM land records”.

Ellis Island at  or Google “ Ellis Island ”.  If your family entered the US through New York in 1892 or after, their records are available.

Washington State database at: or Google “Washington State Archives”.

Library of Congress at: or Google “Library of Congress archives”.

University of Washington Digital database at: or Google “ University of Washington digital photo collection” and start from Home Page.

East Side Journal index, King County directory including Houghton, Redmond, Juanita, Kirkland phone directories, and more are available at: or Google “ Kirkland Heritage Society

False tales about research.

1.  That everyone had wonderful handwriting in the old days.  Simply not true.  Some did and some did not.  But if you read through a hard to read page of handwritten text, you can often get the gist of the writing and go back and be able to read it more easily.  Especially true of census records.

2.  If you were not in the house, you were not counted on the census.  Not true.  If a person was gone for the day or working, they were counted.  If they were away on a month long visit, they were not counted at home.  But they were counted as a “guest” or “visitor” at the home they were visiting.  Same is true if a person was working on a mining claim or in a lumber camp.  People were sometimes missed if they were out and alone.  But the census was taken at lumber camps, mines, hospitals, sanitariums, prisons.

3.  Census takes were careless.  Not true.  They were community people and took the task seriously.  It was a paid position.  They missed few homes.  They did misspell names:  Carl and Karl, Johnson/Johnsen, John and Jack.  Thick accents led to honest errors.  Keep this in mind as you search.

4.  Indians were not counted.  Again, not true.  The census taker had several census books as he made the rounds.  In the early Washington Territory census he had one each for Indians, Chinese and half-breeds, free inhabitants. The slave states also had slave census records.  (Some slave states listed the sex and age, some a first name, sex and age, others kept slave families together and listed them as a family with all the details).  All of this is an uncomfortable time of our history, but it is important to understand.

5.   The Mormons have all the information and it is correct.  The online site is filled with historic records and family records.  It has errors that cannot be corrected.  Anyone can add a record and if there is an error or typo, it cannot be corrected but another record can be added.  There can be many records for one person with mostly the same information.  Be sure to check them all.  One might add a middle initial or middle name, a complete birth date, a spouse, children etc.  Some might contradict one another.  If it has:  Children: none – ignore the “none”.  The site does not allow “unknown” and users must say “none” if they do not know or if they are living and do not want to be added.   That said, this site is full of useful information and data.  That it is open to all is both its strength and its weakness.

6.  Message boards are worthless.  Not true.  If you are researching, past messages can be useful reading.  The Gilbert/Northup families have a great message board which helps with Kirkland history.  If you put out a query, be patient and keep your email account.  My first good reply to a message we posted was three years later.  We would have missed out on several family connections and one 1869 Kirkland connection had we changed our email account.

7.  My kids don’t care.  Maybe not now and maybe not ever but most people do not find time and the interest until retirement.  Don’t write them off regarding history.  If you do the research for yourself, it will most likely be treasured down the road.  Interest often skips a generation.

8.  A computer virus or computer crash might destroy my research and records someday.  Not “might”.  It “will happen” given time.  Save your research to a CD.  Better yet, save it to several CDs and share them with family.

9.  Family research is nerdy.  Well….that probably is true.  But is also a great way to reconnect with long lost family members.

10.  Adopted people will not care about the research of their adopted family.  Ask them and act accordingly