Part 4: Pre-Research Planning


  • Step 1 and Introduction: Review of confirmed information and assumptions.

  • Step 2: Identification of potential resources.

  • Step 3: Exploring the content of potential resources.

  • Step 4 and Summary: Preparation of moving the search to Ireland.


Step 1 and Introduction: Review of confirmed information and assumptions.

Before starting any phase of research taking a few minutes to review what is known (and how) and what is assumed (and why) can be the one factor that can save hours (if not days and weeks) of time “faffing around” (looking in the wrong place, and/or for the wrong information or just simply not being able to recognise a potential record).

A quick review of Annie’s early data provides us with the following starting information (or our Working Hypothesises):

Working Hypothesises:

  • Annie (or Anna) Maria Laughlin born around 1840 in Ireland (estimation from analysis of US Census Records)
  • Annie married Peter Daily probably before 1859 (estimated from 1860 US census)
  • Annie probably married in or near to Peoria, Illinois, USA (based on 1850 & 1860 Census for Peter Daily)
  • The 1860 Census (1 June) identifies Peter & “Mariah” in Ward 1 of Peoria City along with their daughter Catherine who is aged one.
  • Joseph Daily (Peter’s father) is identified as owning real estate (1860 US Census)
  • Catherine Daily’s birth date can be estimated as between 2 June 1858 and 1 June 1859 (1860 Census)
  • The 1870 (recorded as 5 July) Census shows the Daily family living in Ward 6 of Peoria with 4 children
    • Catherine  age 11
    • Susan age 8
    • Ellen age 3 (looks more like a 5)
    • Francis age 7 months
  • There is no evidence of Annie in the 1850 Census in Peoria
  • Annie’s father MAY be called Michael Laughlin (unconfirmed Ancestry Trees)
  • Annie MAY have siblings/half-siblings (unconfirmed Ancestry Trees)
    • James Michael Francis Laughlin (1831 Ireland – 1859 St Louis, Missouri)
    • Helen Laughlin (1839 Ireland – u/k) 
    • Daniel J Laughlin (1853 Missouri – 1915 St Louis City, Missouri)


Step 2: Identification of potential resources.

We challenged you at the end of Part 2 to suggest where we might find additional information that will help Pam.  We got a fantastic response with many of the members suggesting a great range of generic types of records. 

These included:

  • Newspapers
  • County Libraries
  • State Libraries
  • Catholic Archdiocese 
  • Town /City Street Directories
  • Cemetery Records
  • Township Histories
  • Civil War records  (Illinois was a source of troops for the Union Army)
  • Military Records


Specific sites mentioned included:

Linda and Val also made a couple of interesting and very valid points about their particular experiences in their own research.

Linda – Regarding my experience with a local diocese: Fortunately, I have a lawyer friend who had worked with the diocese attorney so he made the initial contact for me.  I was then asked to provide detailed information in writing as to my relationship and what exactly what information I was seeking.  The contact with the local parish was then made through the diocese.  I was told that the parish office would contact me, and I could not ask for any additional information so if I thought of something later, I could not make further inquiries beyond what I had furnished.  The most disappointing result was that I know my family had associations with this parish, yet I was informed there were no records, which I understand can be possible; however, another person on Ancestry has listed her resources for my family as the exact same parish with whom I was in contact.  I have been led to believe by office staff of the parish that the diocese has recently become very concerned with privacy issues”.

Val –  “I did notice something interesting in Pam’s story, which was that Annie Laughlin had signed with a cross, but had probably learned to read with her children later. I don’t think this always means a person cannot read and write. My great grandmother had had a good education, including Latin, and was able to write in a sophisticated and learned way – I have copies of long letters of hers in print. Yet when she went to register the death of her first child in Dublin she signed with a cross. I can imagine the clerk saying ‘put a cross here my dear’, and she, a young woman unused to officialdom, just did what she was told”.

Here folks is where I hold up my hands – I have utterly no experience of searching Illinois Records save for a one hour “poke about” on Ancestry for a couple of my own Murphy clan and that was way way back when!

I therefore am going to immediately fall back on my favourite “go to” reference site Cyndi’s List 

For anyone who has not explored Cyndi’s List it is quite simply a categorized and cross-referenced index to genealogical resources on the internet, even better it is completely free to use.

Under United States >> Illinois the Category Index includes the following sub-headings

  • Birth, Marriage, Death
  • Cemeteries & Funeral homes
  • Census
  • Counties
  • Directories
  • General Resources
  • Government: City, County, Province, State
  • History & Culture
  • How To
  • Immigration, Emigration & Migration
  • Land
  • Laws & Statutes
  • Libraries, Archives and Museums
  • Maps & Geography
  • Military
  • Miscellaneous Records
  • Newspapers
  • Obituaries
  • Occupations
  • People & Families
  • Periodicals & Pamphlets
  • Photographs & Memories
  • Prisons, Prisoners & Outlaws
  • Professionals, Volunteers and Other Research Services
  • Publications, Software & Supplies
  • Queries, message Boards and Surname Lists
  • Religion & Churches
  • Social Networking
  • Societies & Groups
  • Taxes
  • Wills & Probate

Searching the internet for the types of places that may contain records or other relevant information

There are 2 Libraries in Peoria:

Peoria Heights Public Library
816 East Glen Avenue
Peoria Heights, IL 61616
Telephone: 309-682-5578
Fax: 309-682-4457
Email: [email protected] 

Peoria Public Library
107 NE Monroe
Peoria, IL 61602
Telephone: 309-497-2000

As at this point I have now been trying on and off for over a week to gain access to the Illinois State Archives site without success.  I also asked Mike to try, just in case it my firewalls were blocking my access.  

The main National Archives site  contains a list of the US Nationwide network of Facilities (Archives and Record Centres)

These include:

  • National Archives at Chicago, Illinois, 7358 Sough Pulaski Road Chicago, IL 60629-5898. Available Services:  Archival Research Room, Microfilm Research Room 
  • Kansas City Federal Records Center, 8600 NE Underground Drive, Pillar 300-G, Kansas City, MO 64161
  • National Archives at Kansas City, MO, 400 West Pershing Road, Kanas City, MO 64108
  • The Illinois State Genealogical Society provides the following list of Illinois Archives and Libraries 




©2011, copyright Illinois State Genealogical Society

Unfortunately I am finding that I appear to be blocked from being able to access the majority of the Government sites, particularly those that might just contain information of potential use such as Illinois State Archives Databases – Illinois Statewide Marriage Index, 1763-1900.

This is an Index created by the Illinois State Archives in co-operation with the Illinois Stage Genealogical Society (ISGS) to create an index to Illinois marriages occurring prior to 1901.  Sources for this database include a mix of original county clerk’s marriage records as well as publications of county genealogical societies and private individuals.


Step 3: Exploring the content of potential resources.

Right now I’m feeling all of the frustrations many of our members feel on a regular basis, especially when I turn round and answer your queries with – “Oh yes, there are several sets of Teachers Salary Books that cover the period, or there are several sets of church records for that church but they are held at The National Archives of Ireland, the National Library of Ireland, the Representative Church Body Library, The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, or wherever else, but the records are not accessible on-line they can only be accessed in person in hard copy or microfiche format and you will either have to visit Ireland or pay for a Professional Genealogist to search the records on your behalf. “

I am unable to complete this step with any degree of professional approach from my location in Northern Ireland due to my inability to access the State Archive Catalogues, never mind the actual databases.  My lack of professional experience in dealing with more minor record collections pertaining to Illinois does not help either – I simply don’t know about those little gems and nuggets, the history books tucked away in a library, what has been compiled by volunteers.  I’ve no access to the wonderful records held in Washington that are not available on-line.  I don’t have decades of experience in navigating the layers of these collections either.


Step 4 and Summary: Preparation of moving the search to Ireland.

In the interim Pam has contacted the Archdiocese of Kansas City and is in the process of organising an appointment to visit.  Next on her list is to contact the Catholic Diocese in Peoria to see if a marriage for Annie and Peter can be located, along with the baptisms of all 10 of Annie’s children and whether there are any details of deaths and burials for the children who died young.  

When Pam makes her trip to Peoria she also intends to visit the Historical Society (she has had some previous contact with them) and to track down the cemetery where the Daily family are buried.

Before we shift the focus of the research to Ireland I have a few additional recommendations for Pam.

  1. Explore Cyndi’s List, one section at a time and carefully read through the contents of each collection for any that may provide additional information on Annie’s early days in Peoria.
  2. Contact Illinois Genealogical Society for advice on whether there are any local, on the ground Professional Genealogists in the area who could provide her with assistance in discovering when Annie arrived in Peoria, when she married Peter Daily, where the children were baptised.
  3. The National Archives at Washington hold a significant number (hundreds) of rolls of Passenger Lists that are not on-line.  Pam should consider how practical it is for her to visit Washington, or to hire a Professional Genealogist who is able to easily access the collections there.  Finding when Annie arrived in the States and whether she travelled alone, with family or companions and from which port of departure could make significant difference to any chance of success in finding Annie prior to her departure from Ireland.

In the next session we will look at bringing the research to Ireland.

To do this we will look at three specific areas:

  • The potential half-siblings identified through DNA analysis as suggested by the Ancestry Pro-Genealogists Research.    We will examine the information Pam has obtained regarding these potential individuals, and the connections Pam has been able to establish thus far.
  • Any additional information that Pam manages to uncover regarding Annie
  • What collections are available in Ireland to help us narrow down where Annie may originate in Ireland along with collections from which we may be able to extract potential information directly pertaining to Annie and her family in Ireland.  This will include the oral family information that Annie may have come from the Newcastle area of County Down.


Challenge to Green Room Members.

This entire case-study was released as a series over several weeks in the Green Room forum. Between each release, we challenged the members to help and offer comment – so we could use our collective brain – before the release of the next part of the case study. Here was the challenge we issued to the members at the end of the current part of the case-study:

Now, let’s move on to the part of this post that makes it a workshop! We invite your comments, questions and insights in the comment section below. In fact, any observation!

Once we get your replies on the forum we will begin to work through the potential Laughlin family members connected by DNA and begin the process of deciding what our options are for locating Annie in Ireland.   

We want to continue to involve you all as much as possible in every stage of this process – what you can spot, suggest, search, analyse, learn and teach.

(You can see the full set of comments and suggestions offered when we first published the above part of the case-study here. Feel free to have a look. When you are ready, come back here to jump on to the next part of this case -study.)


You can now Click here to comment on this Case-Study or ask further questions in the Green Room forum