Wondering about occupational records of your ancestors? You are in the right place!
July is completely focused on providing you with genealogy tips that are …..well,….”out of the box”.
Welcome to DAY 12 of the 31 Days of “Out of the Box” Genealogy Tips series! Need to start at the beginning of the series or catch up? Start here.
DAY 12 – Use Occupational Records in Your Genealogy Research!
Have you considered these two questions in your research:
- How did your ancestors earn their living?
- How does this information impact your genealogy research?
How our ancestors made a living impacted where they lived. Were your ancestors farmers? Those farmers lived in areas good for growing crops or livestock. Depending on the types of crops an ancestor raised could further narrow down areas when he could live.
Did your ancestor work in the garment industry? Then likely he lived in a large town or city.
Was your ancestor a fisherman? You’ll find him living in a coastal community.
How your ancestors made a living impacted who they associated with. Those farming ancestors likely associated with other farmers and buyers of their crops.
Fisherman would have been associating with other fishermen and those in the boating/shipping industry.
How your ancestors made a living impacted what records their life generated. Your farming ancestors would have been buying and selling land. Check those land records!
Did you have ancestors working in the railroad industry? Railroad records are searchable! The U.S., Chicago and North Western Railroad Employment Records, 1935-1970 on Ancestry.com is one such example of industry related records.
While knowing your ancestor’s occupation does not necessarily provide information on other generations, the knowledge does add color and depth to his/her life. The more you understand your ancestor and his life choices, the more clues you can extract from his records in future research.
Where To Find Occupational Records
An ancestor’s occupation can be found in a surprising number of places. A few examples include:
- The US Federal Census 1850-1880
- World War I draft cards – Your ancestor’s place of employment may also be listed.
- Passenger Lists
- Old photographs – Look for clues based on location, clothing and tools in the photograph.
- City Directories – (Okay, these are my favorite resources!) [Learn more using city directories here.]
- Bonus!! If your ancestor owned a business, be sure and check the state’s business directories.
Interested in reading more about genealogy and occupational records? Check out this more in depth post!
How did your ancestor earn a living?
Check out previous posts in the 31 Days of Out of the Box Genealogy Tips:
- Day 1 – Volunteer!
- Day 2 – Genealogy Wikis
- Day 3 – Cemetery Research
- Day 4 – Newspaper Society Pages
- Day 5 – Vertical Files
- Day 6 – Religious Periodicals
- Day 7 – Unplug Your Genealogy
- Day 8 – Cultural Periodicals
- Day 9 – Facebook Groups
- Day 10 – DNA Education
- Day 11 – Funeral Records
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