There’s still time to attend the Cleveland County (OK) Genealogical Seminar that I will be presenting in Norman this weekend on Saturday the 24th.
I’ll be talking on:
- Court Records
- Using Probate Manuals and Guides to enhance your research
- Organizing Your Research
- and more
There is more information on the society’s website.
Feel free to forward information to other lists and those in the area who may be interested.
Records will not be entirely 100% consistent. This is particularly true for records that provide “extremely secondary information” (eg. places of birth for parents on their child’s death certificate when the child dies at the age of 80).
One must aim for relative consistency and when there are discrepancies, try and find an explanation for them. In the case of birthplaces, it often is because the family lived there for a time, the boundaries were changing, etc.
Or the informant was clueless and just made it up.
Don’t forget when searching indexes to enter Wm. for William, Jno. for John, Th. for Thomas, etc.
Once in a while you will encounter these abbreviations in addition to the census enumerator (and others) who also liked to use initials.
Verifying family stories can often be difficult and the best advice is to record them as “stories” and indicate who said them. Remember though to get as many different perspectives as you can. Even in one family, different children had different experiences and may remember things differently. And their mother (or father) might have shared stories with one child and not with another.
We’re not trying to convert readers with this tip, but what do you know about your ancestor’s religious affiliation? For some of our ancestors, the church was extremely important and influenced many decisions in their lives–who they married, where they settled, etc.
Is your ancestor migrating with members of a specific denomination? Are all of your ancestors associates members of that denomination? There could be clues there….
Does a person providing testimony in a court case indicate that he has known your ancestor for fifteen years? Have you thought about where your ancestor was fifteen years before that date? Do you know where he was? If you can’t find him, look for the person providing testimony.
Always think about the implications of any statement you read. There may be more there than just what it says “on the surface.”
Do you know the difference between an transcript and an extract? A transcript copies information or a record verbatim. An extract takes out what the extractor sees as key points.
If you are using published records, do you know if you have an extract or an abstract? It does make a difference.
Don’t forget to keep track of how you formulate you searches of online databases. It’s impossible to tweak your searches if you don’t.
I’ve become increasingly aware of the importance of this while tracking Benjamin Butler from Michigan to Missouri between 1820 and 1870 for a series of articles in Casefile Clues.
If you can’t find your ancestor in the census with names, have you tried just initials? That’s how my ancestors are listed in 1880…
Always double check those transcriptions you create of handwritten records. There’s always the chance you could make a mistake.
This tip came about after reading tips for the past two weeks–I found two typos!
Note: the proofreader for Casefile Clues
does not proofread Tip of the Day…errors here are completely my fault.