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Bermuda Triangles, continued

March 19, 2016

PennsylvaniaDeathRecordLast time, I wrote about Ireland as a sort of Bermuda Triangle for genealogy. What I didn’t say is you can often hope to get some leads if you visit the island, simply by finding people in the area you’re interested in – assuming you know where that is – and asking around.

Be warned, though, that the famous Irish rain takes its toll on gravestones, and so cemetery visits might not be as productive as you’d hope. (I plan to write about gravemarkers soon, stay tuned.)

North America has its share of black holes, too. Sometimes these are just areas where there was little or no organized government for quite a time, or where records were destroyed (such as in the US Civil War); but in other cases, it’s the legislative environment today that puts the kibosh on research.

Until a few years ago, for example, I just couldn’t get much information from Pennsylvania, especially vexing since my third great-grandparents lived in Philadelphia from 1925 until their deaths in the 1930s and 1940s. Then, a few years back, the Pennsylvania Senate introduced a bill to make vital statistics from the state much more accessible. The bill passed in late 2011, opening a floodgate for researchers interested in the state.

This is why areas with little information aren’t always Bermuda Triangles. Often concerted efforts to lobby governments, digitize records, photograph and transcribe gravestones, etc., is all that’s needed to make genealogical research not only possible but also pleasurable.

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