Get Specific About the Occupation

If your ancestor was a farmer, was he a farm owner, a tenant farmer, or farm laborer? The differences are significant and knowing which helps indicate how mobile your ancestor likely was, what types of records he left behind, etc.

Farming isn’t the only occupation where these distinctions are important? Did your ancestor work in a blacksmith shop, or own his own shop? Again, the difference is important.

Sometimes all we have are vague ideas of what our ancestor did–but sometimes we do have more. Use that information to your advantage.

Experts don’t always know Everything

Remember no expert is perfect. And no one knows everything. A well-known lecturer indicated in a handout that all land records contain metes and bounds description that mention lines and many times mention neighbors. Federal land states infrequently mention metes and bounds and when they do, names of neighbors aren’t always mentioned. Metes and bounds are used in state land states. Turns out the “expert” had only done East Coast research and assumed all land records were the same.

Sometimes there is no answer

Once in a while the genealogist needs to remind themselves that there might not be an answer to a question. This does not mean that one does not keep looking, but that sometimes there just are not the records available to answer the question, determine the parentage, connection etc. Sometimes knowing when you have exhausted all avenues is a good thing to know. Of course, it also might be advised to ask an expert if you really are at the end of your genealogy rope.

A certain publication made me take similarly worded paragraph out of an article because it was “too negative.” I think it’s realistic and honest which is a much better way to be.

You Never Know Until You Ask

A Google search turned up online scans of old land patents. I clicked on the link and I was told that I needed a username and password. My budget for memberships was exhausted and I got distracted and forgot about it. A few days later I came upon the page again and decided to ask if there was anyway to get temporary or “pay-per-view” access for the few documents I wanted immediately.

Turns out there was no fee and I was given the generic access codes.
You never know until you ask… ASK!

Google searches are great, but sometimes it is nice to browse the virtual stacks.

Cyndi at has been linking and categorizing websites for a decade. If you’re stuck, needing a break, or needing to jumpstart your research, take a look at the links she has for your state or country of interest.

There is certain to be something on Cyndislist you haven’t seen before. It is just about like browsing the library stacks and making random finds.

Copyright and Copy Wrong

This is not meant for readers as readers of my site were not the problem. It was not a “fan” or a “follower” who used my whole body of tips on their site under the guise of it “helped me get more attention.” When you put a big fat ad between the tip and my name, that doesn’t make it clear. When you include the website name, but do not include an active link, it makes the chance that someone actually visits my site very small. I was raised in the sticks, but I’m not stupid.

Just because it is not on paper, does not that copyright does not apply.
Just because you can copy and past it in two seconds does not mean that you should.
Just because you can “incorporate an entire RSS feed” into your website does not mean that you should.

The tips at Genealogy Tip of the Day are copyrighted material. Are the ideas copyrighted? No, of course not. I can’t copyright an idea anymore than I can copyright the fact that “2+2=4.” But the whole body of the website is copyrighted and the individual tips are as well.

I’m very grateful for those who share “Tip of the Day” with others who may be interested. There are several ways they can be shared with others, without violating copyright. I am MOST APPRECIATIVE of those who have shared this website with others.

Genealogy Tip of the Day is free to all to use. I make a little (emphasis on little) bit of revenue from the ads hosted here. That is ok with me, I’m not planning on getting rich from genealogy. But don’t put your stuff on my site, plaster your own ads all over it, and tell me it was good for me.

If you want to use A tip in a publication, simply indicate the day it was published, quote it exactly, indicate it came from Genealogy Tip of the Day at by Michael John Neill. Contact me personally at if you want to use more than one.

There’s a wonderful Yiddish saying that goes: “You can’t piss on my back and tell me it’s rain.” This is the one time, I’ll use one of those words on this website, but I’m really irritated and the saying is appropriate. We will maintain our G rating with future postings.