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Hints for Heritage Quest - by Sue Hintz - Western Montana Genealogical Society

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Hints for Heritage Quest

This genealogical resources is available through many public libraries including our own Missoula Public Library (MPL). You will need your library card number. The first part of these directions are specific to MPL, so if you are using a different library, you will have to find Heritage Quest (HQ) on that website. Once opened, the rest of the hints should apply.

Go to the MPL website at http://www.missoulapubliclibrary.org/ Click on the Resources tab, select Databases A-Z. Scroll down to Heritage Quest, and if working from somewhere other than the library, click on “Visit Heritage Quest from home”. The login screen will require your library bar code number. Click log-in, and you will arrive at the list of databases.

When you do searches, HQ does not do “sounds like” searches, so you will have to try different spellings. If you get stuck somewhere, or want more detailed information, click on HELP at the upper right corner for assistance related to that page.

CENSUS – HQ has 1790-1940. (1930 is incomplete, 1890 mostly destroyed in a fire.) The basic search is by name, year (1 or all) and by state (one or all). The advanced search allows a more specific location, plus age in 10-year increments, sex, race, and birthplace. The advance search only works for 1850 and newer, when the census started collecting that information. When you search, the results come back by county. You can click on the state and see all, or click on the county and see fewer. They may have some issues with their search button for 1940. When I used a first name with the last, I got no hits. When I used just the last, I got the desired hits. Searching for another family group, it worked with both names. Once you find the page of interest, you can page forward or backward to check for other family members nearby. There is a zoom button, and options to print or download. If you click on download, below “Image Download” is a summary of the image – in other words, your source documentation. You can copy and paste those lines into your genealogy software for documentation. PDF file are easy to share. Picture files (TIFF, JPEG, etc) are easier to adjust – brightness, cropping, etc. On the Search Census screen, there is also an option to browse. Sometimes a name can be so mangled that it will never be found in an index, so browsing lets you go through each page of the precinct or enumeration district and look line by line. Because HQ does not search for sound-alike names, it is not the most user friendly. FamilySearch.org is better for this purpose. However, HQ is still usable.

BOOKS – Without leaving the Census section, click on the Books tab. This is a collection of digitized books of family and local history. If you search on a name, the list returned will start with the most relevance (probably the most hits) unless you sort by author or title. Clicking on “View Image” will take you to the first page of the book. Clicking on “View Hit” should take you to the first page where your search term (name) should appear. You can move forward to the next page, or the next hit. HQ seems to search on either name (first and last) so you might get better results by putting the name in parentheses, not quotes. You can print a page, or download an image, or download the entire book.

PERSI – The PERiodical Source Index archive is a subject index for more than 6600 genealogy and history books written in English and French (Canada) between 1800-2009. If you search, and find an article of interest, it can be ordered through the Allen County Library (in Fort Wayne, IN) by printing the order form and mailing it, with the fee. If you click on the periodical title, it will tell you what other library might also have the article.

FREEDMAN’S BANK - This savings and trust company was a private corporation chartered by the US government to assist the newly emancipated African-American communities after the Civil War. It functioned from 1865 to 1874. Information in the records varies, but can include birthdate, place, where raised, former owner, employer, occupation, residence, and relatives. The same basic procedures for viewing, printing, and downloading apply.

REVOLUTIONARY WAR – This database contains veterans’ and widows’ applications for pensions and bounty land warrant files. The same systems apply for searching. You will need to try different spellings. You can search on first name only, and then scroll down to look for a spelling of the last name. You can sort by state, but remember that the state on the record might be where he lived when he applied for the pension, and not the state from where he served. These records will contain information about the person’s military service, and if the widow is applying, she will probably have to have included proof of marriage, and sometimes a list of children dependents. You can print or download these records.

SERIAL SET – this contains actions by the US Congress regarding actions taken towards individuals, particularly individuals requesting some kind of compensation from the government. An example I found was from a soldier in the War of 1812, asking for relief because of an on-going injury received in battle. Another was a petition to preserve Niagara Falls.

Reading the Help sections will give more information. It explains how to use your search history, and how to save things into the “notebook”, take notes, etc.