What Will Reading the Records of Others Tell You?

I recently was looking for a christening record in a rural Nebraska church and after finding it, I browsed the other confirmation records for about a twenty year period in the late 19th century.

Every entry had the place of birth and baptism for the person being confirmed. The church was in an area that had been open for settlement for perhaps ten or so years. Virtually all the young adults being confirmed had been born “back east” or “across the pond.” Viewing those records gave me insight into the migratory patterns of early settlers in the area–or at least those who were members of the church in question.

That insight would never have been obtained if I had simply looked at the one record of interest and gone on to looking for something else in a separate set of records.