Kids Say the Darndest Things

When a child gives information on their parent, it comes from second hand knowledge. It also could be given decades after the event took place. This information can be incorrect, but keep in mind the child did not witness parental birth information first hand. Even erroneous places should not be ignored however as there may be a reason for the wrong place of birth. Children of one ancestor always said she was born in Illinois, which was correct. Except for one record which said she was born in Ohio. Years later, I learned the parents met in Ohio, married there and immediately moved. Ohio was wrong, but it was a clue.

Do You Know What All Those Search Options Do?

When using a search option at an online database, do you know how that site implements wildcard searches, Soundex searches, and other search options? Getting creative with search terms is often necessary, but if you don’t know how they are really working, you are not being effective. Experiment and look at your results and see if you are getting what you think you should. A Soundex search for the last name Smut on a site with English language last names should result in a large number of hits. And if you don’t know why, then review what Soundex really is.

Is It Worth the Time to Find It?

Are you spending too much time looking for a specific record that might not really even help your research all that much? There’s a couple for whom I cannot find their mid-1800 passenger list entry. After some thought, I’m not really certain I need it. I have a good idea of where the family is from in Europe as I know where the husband’s brother was born. I know what children the couple had and where they settled. The mid-1800 passenger list probably isn’t going to tell me where they were from. And after having spent several hours trying to find them, it may be best to work on locating other records. Sometimes it is necessary to realize that it may be time to work on other things.

Vowel and Consonant Interchanged?

It’s easy for most researchers to realize that vowels can easily get interchanged in a name resulting in variant spellings. Soundex searches ignore vowels in an attempt to get around this problem. Remember that consonants and vowels can get interchanged as well, particularly if the handwriting is not all that great. These variations can be particularly troublesome until the researcher realizes it. Trautvetter often gets transcribed as “Trantvetter” when the “u” is read as an “n.” Are vowel and consonant interchanges causing your problems when doing searches?