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Websites offer insight into family histories

June 30, 2012


Independence Day celebrations often make me pause to remember where my family has come from and the sacrifices they made to live here in the United States.

If your family came over by boat, try looking at the passenger lists available at You can search by the name of the ship or the port of departure. If your ancestors came through Ellis Island, try

If your ancestors were already here when the first European touched down at Plymouth, consider looking into the records collected by the Dawes Commission of the Five Civilized Tribes, found at These records contain information on people who were eligible for tribal membership from 1898 to 1914. While it does not go as far back as many would like, it may give you some jumping-off points to do further research.

The Revolutionary War is where our country got its start, and you may be able to find your family’s Revolutionary War hero at one of these four sites:

— or

Another place to look for ancestors who participated in the Revolutionary War is the 1840 census. The census recorded whether or not a widow of a Revolutionary War soldier was living on his pension, and this information can help you trace your roots.

The Mississippi Department of Archives has records of all soldiers who fought in the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Civil War, and the Spanish-American War of 1898. These records can be found at

If you have older family members who have traveled the country conducting genealogy research for many years, they are sure to be jealous when they find out how easy the Internet has made researching your family history. Save the tromping around old cemeteries for another day when the temperatures are not close to the triple digits.

Mariah Smith is affiliated with the Mississippi State University Extension Service. Email her at

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