Fold 3, another genealogical database, differs from Heritage Quest in that it is more specifically devoted to military documents and records. A quick way to remember this is that the name Fold 3 comes from the military tradition of folding a flag into thirds to honor veterans. Of course, as you will see, there is a large amount material here for anyone interested in records of the past in general!
Right off the bat, it’s clear that navigating Fold 3 is a bit more complex and potentially more challenging than Heritage Quest. Rather than six clear-cut collections to search in, there are many varied large and small groups of records. Frankly, it’s hard to determine what collection to look in first! If there is a person you are interested in tracking down, I’d recommend simply typing their name into the general search bar at the top of the page. That way you won’t need to try to guess which category holds the most valuable information for you. Click the “Person” link to enter a first and last name. The Options link below the search box lets you limit by date range, state, and keyword. Try it out with one of your relatives!
The results page is a little mind-boggling at first, with all of the categories and ways to filter your results (Fold 3 refers to these as matches). Let’s take a look at the three general columns individually. The first column will display the category and title in which your searched name appears. The easiest way to view all of these at once is to click the little arrow next to each category so that you can get a visual display of what types of titles are in each section, along with the number of matches found in each one. If you decide to limit your search by a particular title (WWII Navy Muster Rolls, for example), you’ll notice that all of the filters in the other columns on the page change accordingly. A little blue square will appear next to the main category that you have limited by. To go back, simply uncheck the box next to the title.
The second column provides additional filters. If you’d rather not limit by category or title, here is where you can filter by time period, state, result type (e.g., document, memorial page, or comment), military service, and military unit. If you check Fold 3 often for information, you can also limit the matches to ones that have been recently added in the last month, 3 months, etc. to see if anything new on your relative is available.
The third column simply shows a thumbnail of all of the matches. The keyword or person’s name is conveniently shown highlighted in yellow. Please be aware that the search engine does not assume that a person’s name is in quotes; in other words, some results might be there because the first and last names both appear on the page, but in separate places for two different people. Usually the results with the entire name are shown first in the list. You might also find that some matches have the designation “OCR.” These are results that have been gathered from documents that were indexed by computers using Optical Character Recognition- a typical result with this designation would be an excerpt from a newspaper or similar content that is typed rather than handwritten.
Now, with that lengthy introduction to the ins and outs of Fold 3 searching, let’s take a look at some of the database’s collections! To finish out this post, I’ll cover the popular genealogy resources (found in a column on the right hand side of the Fold 3 homepage).
1. Census records: Fold 3 has opted to highlight two particular years- 1860 (to get a snapshot just before the Civil War) and 1930 (between the two World Wars). Snippets of census documents from other years are available, but they are not complete. If interested in years other than the two mentioned above, use Heritage Quest! However, for the years 1860 and 1930 I would definitely recommend Fold 3. The scanned images in this database are quite a bit easier to read. The line of interest is highlighted in yellow, and there are convenient zoom and magnifying glass features. Unfortunately, Fold 3 will not permit a search at county level, whereas Heritage Quest does provide that important feature. Searches in Fold 3 can be modified to include counties as keywords. Clearly there are pros and cons to each database, but just keep in mind which database to use depending on the census years on interest. Fold 3 provides some odd tidbits of information regarding the two censuses they cover. In 1860 census records indicated whether a person was deaf, dumb, blind, insane, idiotic, a pauper, or a convict! In 1930 the census captured whether each household owned a radio.
2. Naturalization Records: This section includes documents such as oaths of allegiance, petitions for naturalization, and certificates of arrival for certain regions and large cities during the period of 1700 through the mid-1900s. Depending upon where the records were drafted, there will be a varying amount of information included.
3. City Directories: With these resources you can locate residents, organizations, and businesses for a select group of large cities in the Midwest, Northeast, and Mid-Atlantic. Several large California cities are also included. Another bonus with these directories? The authentic antique advertising found throughout!