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With Old Southwest records so sparse and far-flung, this helpful and concise guide to Old Southwest genealogy is invaluable. To begin with, the Old Southwest covered a vast territory, and genealogical research within its bounds requires knowledge of its history and geography.
Under territorial status, the Old Southwest consisted of territory east of the Mississippi, including Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and parts of Louisiana and Florida. Much of this area encompassed lands of the Creek, Cherokee, Choctaw, and Chickasaw Indians. Settlers arriving from the original Colonies were required to obtain passports for passage through Indian country, and after the Revolutionary War, settlers holding land were required to file proof of ownership.
Thus an entire body of records grew up in the pre-statehood period, and this guide starts at the very beginning with a look at the earliest migratory paths and main travel routes through the Old Southwest. In order to locate travelers or settlers on this fast-changing frontier prior to 1820, researchers are told about the major document collections containing public land records and passport and travel documents, compiled at a time when the usual county court records or census records did not exist. Typical records might include names of residents, taxpayers, express riders, petitioners, and Indian interpreters.
In keeping with the Genealogy at a Glance series, this research guide also contains a helpful list of books and articles for further reference, a list of major area libraries, and a list of online sources.