Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills is not just about citing sources. The first two chapters are wonderful genealogical lessons on methodology and sources in and of themselves.
Before discussing how to cite a specific type of record, Mills briefly discusses that record, providing a wonderful overview. While Mills’ book is not for the new genealogist, this not-so-new genealogist finds its discussion of sources an excellent quick review and primer when I need reminding.
And then there is the other 80% of the book, which is about citati
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When was the last time you accessed a record that was not on microfilm, not in digital form, not published and not indexed?
Remember that there are millions of documents in courthouses, archives, etc. that only exist on paper. Is the answer to your question written on a piece of paper that you or someone else will have to actually see face to face to get a copy of it?
Not everything is on film or on computer.
Recently I needed 8 land entry files from the National Archives. I knew some of these files would not contain very much information at all, perhaps just a few sheets. There were three that had the potential to contain valuable information as they were homestead and preemption claims.
To order the files direct from the National Archives would have cost me $320. I hired a researcher to go to the Archives and copy the files for me. Her fee was approximately 1/4 of what the archives would have charged me.
Is it possible that hiring someone at the remote record site is the way to go?
Just to confuse genealogists, some states have towns that are not located in the county with the same name.
Des Moines, Iowa, is not located in Des Moines County, Iowa.
Keokuk, Iowa, is not located in Keokuk County, Iowa.
It’s not just an Iowa thing. This can happen anywhere. Make certain your place descriptions are complete and not misleading. I always use the word “county” just to keep things clear.
State land states are those states where the original “seller” on the first deed was the state–actually the colony. This is generally the 13 colonies and a few states that border those states.
Federal land states are those where the original “seller” on the first deed was the federal government. Usually areas settled after the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, but not always.
State land states usually describe their land in metes and bounds. Federal land states usually use base lines and meridians.
My wife and I both have a set of ancestors who were immigrants and I think the groom wrote back and said “I need a bride.” One might be tempted to think that the bride and groom were born in the same village.
In both cases, that’s not what happened.
In the case of my ancestor, her father was a “windmill mechanic” and moved occasionally for his work. In the other case, the bride was working as a hired girl in the village where the groom was born and raised.
Sometimes romantic visions of our ancestors need to discarded. It makes for good fiction, but not necessarily good genealogy. And oftentimes the real story is more interesting anyway.
If your ancestor uses the phrase “now wife” in his will, it does not mean that he was married before.
If Johann gives his farm to “his now wife and after her death to my children,” it means his wife at the time the will was written. This was done to see to it that if this wife died and the testator remarried that the children and not the current wife inherited the property. Without the word “now,” “wife” is vague. “Now wife” was done to clear things up, but it has confused many genealogists.
The first son was named for this, the second son was named for that, etc.
Keep in mind that these patterns are trends and social customs that your ancestor might have followed. They are not law.
Your ancestor does not have to follow any of these “social mores.” What your ancestor does have to do is:
- Figure out how to get born.
- Figure out how to get married (or at least reproduce)
- Leave behind at least one record
Dying usually happens whether your ancestor planned for it or not.