Monthly Archives: May 2011

Did You Copy Selected Materials the First Time?

Some of my research was done back in the day when making a paper copy of every record was cost prohibitive. Some of those records have been microfilmed by the Family History Library. I’ve been going back and in some cases, scanning the entire record off the microfilm and getting lots of really interesting information.

Is there something you only partially looked at before that perhaps now you could copy more extensively?

Do You Know What You Are Looking At?

A relative was great about sending me stuff while she was actively researching and I really appreciated it. She always indicated the volume number of the courthouse book and the page number of the information. The problem is that she sometimes made up book titles and occasionally they aren’t accurate. She extracted accurately but, sometimes left out key details. If you are using Family History microfilm of original records, look at the “title sheet” that starts each record and use that for your title if you don’t know what the book is.

You never know, you might want to go back some day and review it yourself.

Did Someone Convert a Joseph?

I was using a transcription of vital records that indicated a relative was named Jas. I assumed he was James and was searching for that name. Turns out the record that was transcribed had used “Jos.” for Joseph and the transcriber made the “o” an “a.”

So copy down what the transcriber wrote, but keep in mind that they might have incorrectly copied the record–or that the record was difficult to read and that the transcriber did the best they could.

Two Books in One Volume

To save money, libraries may bind more that one softcover book in a hardcover binding, particularly when the softcover books are part of a series. Make certain you aren’t just looking in the index of the “last book” in the bound book. It can be easy to overlook the index of the “first” book when two are bound together.

Cite the Cemetery Site

Site is a location. Cite means to indicate where a piece of information was obtained. You should cite the cemetery site when referencing a tombstone. The tombstone site is where the tombstone was located and your citation for the tombstone site should be specific enough that someone else could get to the site using your citation.

Marriage Bann

A marriage band is an ecclesiastical or civil announcement of an upcoming marriage. Ecclesiastical announcements are typically made on three Sundays before the wedding. Civil announcements may be done in a variety of places. They are more often found in church records than they are in civil records.

Publication of the banns does not mean the marriage necessarily took place. They were to give those “opposed” to the wedding time to know about it.

Are You Stereotyping Your Ancestors?

Are you assuming your ancestor acted like the “typical Irishman,” the “typical German,” etc.? Doing so may cause you to believe things about your ancestors that were not true and make brick walls for yourself.

As a simple example, drinking beer is considered by many to be a typical German behavior. Yet in the households of two of my great-grandparents, beer was NOT present and not a part of the daily routine as it might have been in some households. There are a variety of reasons why your ancestor may not follow typical ethnic customs–don’t assume behaviors for which you have no evidence.

Most of us don’t like it when others stereotype us–let’s not stereotype our ancestors either.

Visit State and Provincial Archives Websites

When was the last time you visited the state or provincial archives website for the locations where your ancestor lived? There could easily be new material there since your last visit or merely something you notice now that you did not see the last time.

Made some interesting discoveries myself on the Alberta Provincial Archives website which prompted this post.

Did Your Ancestor Get a Federal Stimulus?

Don’t assume your ancestor didn’t get a “federal stimulus.” Is it possible he (or his widow) got bounty land for military service or a widow’s pension? As time went on and there were fewer veterans or individuals who could qualify, the rules for eligibility were relaxed. And stories of war service are not always passed down from one generation to another. One War of 1812 widow in my family had a wonderful bounty land application documenting her marriage and her deceased husband’s military career.