Riley kicks off bid with a long listen

Charleston Mayor Joe Riley

Genealogists and people who associate with them frequently hear the term "genealogy record."

Librarians and archivists regularly use the term when speaking to patrons and when describing the most popular genealogically useful records their institutions hold.

Ask one family historian what a genealogy record is and there's a good chance she will mention birth, marriage, death, census and other records commonly used by those doing genealogical research. But ask another and he may say that every record that advances efforts to document a family's history is a genealogy record.

Which one is right?

Although both responses are correct, the second is more correct than the first. Every record that helps us to establish that our ancestors were in a particular place at a particular time is a genealogy record. Ultimately, we want to use the information we gather from all of those records to learn about our ancestors.

Reports of missionaries who converted people in a family's ancestral hometown can be genealogy records. This is particularly true if they baptized ancestors or had some other direct involvement with them. But it's also true if they reported on the ancestors' living conditions or lifestyle, information that can lead you to other, more detailed records.

An ancestor's application for admission to college is certainly a genealogy record. The ancestor's alma mater might archive student records.

Information found on applications, grade transcripts and in the records of college organizations can be very valuable. Alumni directories, which can note career changes and movement from one city or state to another, also can provide great research clues.

Club meeting minutes, which might be found in a local archive or historical society, could be genealogy records, too. If ancestors were club members, their individual activity could be recorded with dates. The minutes might even provide information that leads to finding marriage or death records.

These are just a few of the in-numerable records not normally thought of as "genealogy records" that can be helpful.

Try broadening your idea of what a genealogy record is.

First think of the events that occurred in places your ancestors lived while they were alive. Then, check the records to see if your ancestors were recorded in them or if they provide clues that lead you elsewhere.

Additional ideas on unusual places to search for genealogical information are found in "Hidden Sources: Family History in Unlikely Places," by Laura Szucs Pfeiffer, Ancestry, $39.95. You also can use it in the South Carolina Room, Charleston County Public Library, 68 Calhoun St.

Reach Wevonneda Minis at 937-5705 or wminis@postandcourier.com.