United States Records
The fur trading area extended throughout North America. Many of the Métis families in Ontario can trace their roots as far south as St. Louis, Missouri, as well as to Detroit, Chicago, Green Bay, Prairie du Chien and Michilimackinac. Many of the records from these areas begin in the late 1700s and carry on to the present day. Early histories, census, church and vital records can be found online. Enter the names of states, dates, type of record or the name of your ancestors in Search engines and databases.
- spelling of names and places can vary from one index to another
- databases and indexes are not sources they guide you to the original record
The Family History Library website now has two sections. The first is a database of records that have been indexed. After you select the records for the “US and Canada” and will view the list of records that are currently available. Beware that this list is updated frequently. Then enter a name and state. The list of returns provides possible matches with names, dates and places. By clicking the little arrow on the right hand side of the entry you will learn what other information is associated with that entry including the FHL microfilm number. At the top of the page you have the option of selecting the library catalog. This will give you the opportunity to see what is included in the collection for each state. If the record is on microfilm one is able to arrange to have the film brought to the nearest Family History Center now called Family Search Center.
2. Individual States
The Illinois State Archives webpage has a section on genealogical research that outlines the major records sources. The section “Online Databases” has many choices beginning in 1793.
Use the library catalog to find the titles about fur trade records. Note the titles of interest and then use Google Books to see if there are online copies one can read.
- Sinko, Peggy Tuck. Guide to Local and Family History at the Newberry Library.
Salt Lake City: Ancestry Publishing, 1987.
- Szucs, Loretto Dennis. Chicago and Cook County Sources: a genealogical and historical guide.
Salt Lake City: Ancestry Publishing, 1986.
The Minnesota Historical Society website enables one to learn about the fur trade era in Minnesota, as well as about individual traders, voyageurs and their families. Daybooks, journals, ledgers, diaries, personal narratives and notary contracts are a few of the records that make up this collection. Access these in the Manuscript Collection by entering the terms such as “fur trade families” or “fur trade records.”
Since 1915 the society has published the journal Minnesota History. There is a very detailed online index to the journal. Individuals may be identified as voyageurs, traders or interpreters or as being involved with the fur trade. Mention is made if there is a genealogy, diary or journal as part of the article. Many places in Canada are identified, some as trading posts or as centres that were involved with people in the fur trade. From the index you are able to access and print the article.
The family history section has numerous databases to find people in the census and other records of interest.
- Guide to Genealogical Resources at the Minnesota Historical Society.
St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2003.
- Warren, Paula Stuart. Minnesota Genealogical Reference Guide. 6th edition.
St. Paul, MN: Warren Researching and Publishing, 2003.
This is a family history site that provides information about genealogical records of interest for Michigan. There are links to the Michigan State Archives, Family History, and the Library of Michigan.
The Burton Historical Collection of the Detroit Public Library began life as the private library of Clarence Monroe Burton. Realizing that Detroit’s history was inextricably connected to that of Michigan and the Old Northwest and those histories to that of Canada and New France, he assembled a collection that was one of the most important private historical collections in the county.
Over the course of 40 years, Mr. Burton systematically collected original documents and personal papers of prominent citizens of Detroit and Michigan. By 1914 the library contained 30,000 volumes, 40,000 pamphlets and 500,000 unpublished papers. Mr. Burton donated his collection, including the building it was housed in, to the Detroit Public Library in 1915. There are online guides to particular collections.
Use the library catalog to find what materials pertain to the fur trade and the fur trade families. Note titles of interest then check to see if they are available online at Google Books.