Is There More?

Online indexes can lead you to an image of a record with a quick search–if you are lucky enough that names are spelled and indexed correctly. Make certain the “next image” isn’t part of the item you located. Census records may be split over two pages, draft cards are often images of the front and back of the card, death certificates sometimes contain “supplements” directly after the original document.

Always look at the next image or two in any online set of images to make certain you’ve got it all–and look forward too as well.

You’ll never know until you look.

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Remainderman

A remainderman usually is someone whose title to property does not become realized until the termination of the ownership of that property by a former owner. Usually this former owner has a life estate in the property and usually has been given that life estate by someone else.

Mimke wills his wife Antje a life estate in his real property and then at her demise title is to pass to his children Johann, Jann, and Metha. Johann, Jann, and Metha are the remaindermen.

Mimke’s will may not use the word “remaindermen,” but it’s possible they are referred to by that term in other legal documents.

There are a variety of reasons why someone may bequeath a life estate in their property to someone, but generally it revolves around allowing that person use of and income from the property during their lifetime while still executing control over what happens to it after they die.

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Another Version?

If that digital image of a newspaper or record is difficult to read, how possible is it that another image exists somewhere else? That image may be better than the one you first locate.

There are several reasons for varying image quality, but it depends on how the digital image was made in the first place. Let’s say in the 1940s, newspaper A is microfilmed. The original copy of newspaper A either deteriorates or is intentionally destroyed. There are several rolls of microfilm made. We will focus on copy 1 and copy 2. Copy 1 of that roll of microfilm gets fairly heavy use and there’s some wear on it. Constantly rolling it through the machine does that. In the early 2010s, copy 1 is digitized in order to allow greater public access and prevent any more wear and tear on the microfilm.

Copy 2 of the microfilm has sat in the library of a liberal arts college in northern Missouri. It was used by a professor for a sociological study in the early 1980s and has sat preserved in the box ever since. It has only been put on a microfilm reader once and that was it.

Any thoughts on which film copy is more legible?

This is why it matters where that digital image you got came from and how the host of the image came to obtain it. Reasons like this are why that providence and citation matter.


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Is Your Data Entry Correct?

When using any genealogical database or information management software, make certain that any relationships you think you have entered correctly are actually displaying correctly.

Also if you do not know what something does, leave it at the original setting until you find out what it does and whether you need to change it or not. That prevents problems as well.

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Public Details of Private Records?

One of the reasons newspapers are valuable resources for genealogists is because they are hard to “close” once they have been published. Court cases may be sealed, but a newspaper reference to that court case is “out” forever. A birth certificate may be sealed if there is an adoption, but if the baby’s birth was in the local newspaper–it is still there.

If there’s a record you cannot access, ask yourself what you are trying to find out or discover and are there other records that may provide that same information?

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From Whence it Came

A search for a relative on a “big” genealogy website may search records from a wide variety of sources and instantly pull up an image with the name of interest. Before you assume you’ve hit the genealogy jackpot there are some warnings:

  • The image may not refer to your relative. The image may come up because the name is “close,” the location is “close,” or someone else thought the record was about your ancestor. The name may not really be the same, the location may be too far off, or that other person may be incorrect. If the search parameters were set too loosely, the “match” may make absolutely no sense. Search results are not divinely inspired.
  • The transcription may not be correct. The original may be difficult to read or the transcriber may have made a mistake. Transcriptions made on Ancestry, FamilySearch, etc. are not officially sanctioned transcriptions. They are not gospel. Do not treat them as if they are. Read the document yourself. Ask someone for assistance on one of the many genealogy groups online (Facebook, etc.).

When viewing any image of a record, ask yourself the following questions:

  • what record did this image come from?
  • is there more to this record?
  • what was the purpose of this record?
  • am I using an image of the original record or a transcription of the original record?
  • who originally created this record and where are those originals?

If you don’t know what on earth you are looking at, how on earth are you going to understand and analyze it?

Don’t just ask those questions and ignore them. Get the actual answers. If you do, you are likely to:

  • make fewer mistakes
  • save yourself time
  • discover even more information

[In reference to the title of this post, I realize that some readers are vegan. If so, replace “mystery meat” with “plant of unknown origin.:]

For a somewhat lengthy example of this analysis, view a post on our sister site, Rootdig.

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This Trick Will Solve Your Research Problems

The reality is that there is no trick or instant solution to genealogical research problems. However, generally speaking the following approaches are helpful:

  • citing your sources;
  • learning as much as you can about all the records in the area;
  • learning the history of the area;
  • having contemporary maps;
  • obtaining as many records as possible;
  • using compiled sources (published genealogy books, online trees, etc. ) as stepping stones to original records;
  • realizing assumptions may not be true;
  • continuing to learn about genealogical research in general;
  • proofing and double checking your work.

Not one trick and not a guarantee, but these general suggestions will go a long way.

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Think, Engage, and Interact–Don’t Just React

At Genealogy Tip of the Day we want you to think about your research: how you decide what material to research, how you find material, how you analyze material. We want you to think about what sources you may not have looked at, what assumptions about your ancestor may not be true, and what conclusions regarding your ancestor may need to be re-evaluated.

Think, engage, and interact with what you find–don’t just react.

This tip was originally published in February of 2017 but is just as true today.

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Grandpa Didn’t Have to Prove It…

When the census taker came asking questions, they didn’t require the respondent to “prove” the answers they gave. They took them at their word. If your relative gave clearly incorrect information, the census taker may have asked someone for clarification. But for the most part, what your relative said was what got written down.

They didn’t ask them to validate those property values in the 1850 or 1860 census. They didn’t ask to verify ages or places of birth. Answers regarding citizenship status and eligibility to vote were taken at face value (for those enumerations that required those details).

Your relative providing information may have guessed where their mother was born on their 1880 census enumeration. They may have guessed about the place of birth for their mother–in-law who lived with them and whose memory was questionable on certain days.

And when asked about the cousin of their husband who moved in ten years ago and never left, they might have said “is there a spot for ‘total freeloader’ on that there census sheet?”

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They Got Served-You May Get a Clue

A notice to appear in a court case can provide a clues as to the residence of the individual being required to appear. The summons will generally be issued to the sheriff of the county in which the person resides. The difficulty is that one has to determine in which court cases a person may be summoned. That requires looking in indexes to court records for ancestral siblings, friends, and associates.

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Some Popular Tips

A review of our stats from several years ago indicated that in 2017-2018 we had several tips that were significantly more popular than others. Here’s the list: What’s your favorite tip?
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