Get Someone Else To Read It

Sometimes another set of eyes will see something differently. Over at the Daily Genealogy Transcriber, we recently had a posting that some thought was “Hon Aaron Sargent” when in fact it was “Wm. Aaron Sargent.”

That posting can be viewed here:

If you are stuck on how to read or interpret something, consider having someone else look at it. Your interpretation just might not be correct.

Scratch it out on Paper

I’m not a big fan of rushing to the computer to enter everything into a database the minute I discover it. Without getting on that soapbox, consider sketching out family relationships on paper before entering them into your genealogical database. Think about the information before you just start mindlessly entering it into a database. Thinking and analyzing are always good. Your initial conclusion may not be the correct one.

Don’t Just Click, Look Quick,and Go Back

If you’ve used an online index to take you directly to a record, don’t just look at the desired entry and immediately go back to do more searching. Look at the entries before and after the one for your ancestor. How are they the same? How are they different? This is very helpful for records you’ve never look at before. And for census records, look at the names of the neighbors and where they are from. There may be clues in those names and locations as well.

Watch those Abbreviations

Remember that an abbreviation might not stand for what you think it does. There was a time when “Ia” stood for the state of Indiana, not the state of Iowa as it does today. So make certain you really know what something stands for.

Readers of Casefile Clues will see this “in action” in issue 7. Attendees at the recent Germantown, TN workshop saw it as well. But there are other examples besides the “Ia” one.

Alternate Indexes

Are you using just one index or finding aid to a set of records? Is there another index or another database or website that indexes the same records? If so, that other site or source might have read names differently or offer different search options. Do not limit yourself to just one site.

Chart Everything

I’ve been working on a relative who was married at least 6 times. To help keep myself organized, I made charts for:

  • her marriages
  • where she was in each census year
  • what each census enumeration said about her
  • what years she had what last names
  • who was the father of what children

Just organizing the information about her helped me keep everything straight in my own mind.
The relative will be featured in an upcoming issue of Casefile Clues.

Copyrighting A Fact

As a reminder, facts cannot be copyrighted.

The paragraph you write about how you proved a date of birth is something you can copyright and typically copyrighted the minute you write it.

The fact that Johann was born on 18 June 1832 is not something you can copyright.

Otherwise if facts could be copyrighted, I’d be taking claim to “2 plus 2 equals 4.” (Grin!).

Spelling a Clue to Pronunciation?

Is the spelling of your ancestor’s name in a census or other record a clue as to how your relatives said your ancestor’s name?

Elecksander was probably Alexander, said so as to be spelled another way.

Cathren in a census was probably Catherine, but probably pronounced “cath rin” as opposed to “Cath er in.”

Spelling might hide more clues than you think.