The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

January 27, 2013

Professional genealogist offers research tips, guides


Michael Hait, professional genealogist, provides a variety of free resources from the homepage of his website at His genealogy tips, “Top Ten Rules of Genealogy,” include reminders that all researchers need to review from time to time including, “No. 8, Never assume anything.” (This advice is especially important when interpreting census data.)

His list of Little Used Record Groups may even include information not previously known. For example, under U.S. Passport Applications, he notes, “Passports were not REQUIRED for overseas travel until 1941, except during several war periods: 1861-1862 and 1918-1921. However the federal government has issued passports since 1789.” Also, do you know about “Emergency Passport” applications? Other “little used” sources in his list include Equity Cases and Church Registers.

Other free resources accessed from Hait’s homepage include Directory of Online State Archives Holdings Catalogs; State and Regional Genealogical Society Journals (including some state archives that offer free samples online); A Directory of African-American Genealogy & Heritage Societies; and United States Federal Census Pathfinder, his newest guide. (Each of these files is in PDF format and will require the free Adobe Reader software to view. It is available at

Hait’s Census Pathfinder is especially noteworthy. In addition to links to U.S. publications, and special articles (e.g., “Special Collections and Special Reports, U.S. Census Bureau”) there are pages of information devoted to each U.S. federal census from 1790 through 1940.

It should be noted that Hait’s forms are “free previews” of extraction forms and actual forms can be purchased from him. However, it should also be noted that there are several sources that offer free downloads of census forms, such as at and William Dollarhide’s “The Census Book” at In any case, Hait’s guide has extensive helpful census information for researchers.

Hait’s case studies

From Hait’s homepage, be sure to click on the link to his Case Studies. His ongoing case study pertains to a former slave, Jefferson Clark, and the person suspected to be his owner, George W. Tubb.

This page also has a link to a most informative article, “Positive and negative aspects of online genealogy research.”

In addition to his many books and magazine articles, several of Hait’s articles are available online. For example the LowcountryAfricana website’s article, “Creating a Research Plan,” at is one that should be studied by all serious researchers. The article, “Pulling the Most Out of Your Records,” at is most informative as well.

According to the Baltimore History & Genealogy Examiner at, Hait “is a professional genealogist, specializing in Maryland research, African-American genealogy, and Civil War records. He currently serves as the instructor of a course in African-American genealogy for the National Institute of Genealogical Studies, and is the coordinator of the resource library for the Lowcountry Africana Project, in addition to actively writing and lecturing on genealogical research topics.”

Queries, as well as a general exchange of genealogical material that readers would like to share, will be printed in the column for free. Contact Joan Griffis by e-mailing