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Private Papers

The record keeping habits of a family will determine the types of family papers a person might expect to find.  Private papers may take the form of land deeds or leases, mortgages or other land transactions.  There may also be contracts, pensions, wills, insurance papers, customs information, financial documents and accounts, military records, employment and business records.  Carefully study these papers for any genealogical content.

In the home, you may find parish records, books of remembrance, certificates, diplomas, testimonials, samplers, quilts, baby books and school records.  You might discover military records that describe the date and place of birth and entry into the service, type and duration of service and the separation dates.  Some may be fortunate enough to find a certificate noting an ancestor's height and weight and describing other physical characteristics. 

You may find old newspapers clippings, either loose or in scrapbooks, which can be a helpful source of data if the name of the newspaper and the date of the event are written on the clipping.  These clippings deal with all types of family and community activities, obituary notices being common.

There may be documents containing information on an ancestor's involvement with government offices, stores and businesses, clubs, lodges, societies, churches, and with other organizations.  These records may contain data on the date, period, and nature of the activity and can sometimes provide useful historical, biographical and genealogical data.