Online Society Gold
When I’m searching the internet for people or even just background information on the area they were in, I look for genealogical societies and historical societies at the state, county and individual town level to see if they have a website available. Often these smaller, more local groups will have great collections of written information and if you’re really lucky, photographs as well.
I just scored big on a family I have been researching in Minnesota, by finding old photographs from the late 1800/early 1900s with identification and captions at the Steele County Historical Society website. They don’t have a huge collection, but even one photograph of an entire family taken in front of their tiny cabin with their pet dog and bird, is a real treasure.
A while back I was researching a family that went to Montana when it was wild. By perusing the collections that the Montana Historical Society had at their website, I was able to contact them and for about $20, received photocopies of prison records, mug shots, and letters back and forth to the parole agency about a man who was part of a gang of horse thieves in the early 1900s, that roamed from Montana to New Mexico. One of the letters was from a local sheriff to the parole board suggesting that they revoke his parole, because he’d recently been in a shoot-out and had his index finger shot off. They feared he was going to exact revenge as soon as he recovered if he didn’t get put back in jail soon.
So be sure to check for historical and genealogical societies for the areas you’re researching in, and look at all levels – state, county and town. You never know what you might find.
This is a great point. I've stumbled across some very helpful local and state sites, but I seldom think to search for them, specifically. Thanks!