Monthly Archives: November 2011

Never Use Grandma

When writing any genealogical note, commentary, etc. avoid the use of relationship terms without the name of the person attached to it.

“Grandma gave me this picture.”

“My Uncle told me where Grandpa was born.”

What Grandma? What Uncle? What Grandpa?

You may know to whom you are referring–will someone else?

If you indicate in the first paragraph that you are talking about “Grandma Matilda Johnson,” it’s not necessary to refer to her using that complete phrase in every sentence that follows. That makes your prose bulky. However, otherwise you should be clear about exactly to whom you are referring.

This is especially true in families where names are used more than once. My mother has three Aunt Ruths. One was always referred to with her last name, one was Ruth, and one was Ruthie.

The point is what is clear to you might not be clear to someone in fifty years.

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Did They Move–Or Not?

There is a good chance that within the next year, my address will change even though my residence will not. When the post office closes, we’ll have a different address even though we never really moved at all. In fact our new post office will be in a different county.

Is it possible that your ancestor’s address changed even though she never moved at all?

My Blogs

For those who don’t know, I have three daily sites:


I also have two other blogs:

Rootdig–also free where I blog about general research ideas, things that confuse/frustrate/irritate me, etc. —http://rootdig.blogspot.com
Casefile Clues–where I blog about things I’m working on for my newsletter Casefile Clues–http://blog.casefileclues.com
Enjoy.

Before You Post a Question or a Query

Before you post a question or query to a message board, email list, etc., try and remember to include enough information so that a person can help you. This typically includes the name of the person for whom you are looking, an approximation of the date of the event, a guess as to the place of the event, sources you have tried, etc. You need not go into a paragraph discussion about everything, but just asking for help finding Grandma in the 1930 census is not sufficient.

Researchers should know:

  • Grandma’s name
  • Where Grandma probably lived
  • When Grandma was probably born
  • Who might have been living with Grandma in the 1930 census

Undocumented Name Change

Is it possible that your ancestor changed his name simply because he wanted to and with no official paperwork to document the change? For much of American history (and possibly in other locations as well), names could be changed with little formality.

If your ancestor naturalized after 1906, his naturalization papers may mention the change. Land records may occasionally reference a change, especially if the name on a deed of purchase is different from the name on a deed of sale. Probate records may indicate if the deceased used any other names. And lastly, pension records may also provide alternate names, aliases, etc.

December Genealogy Webinar Schedule-New Topics

We’ve announced our schedule of genealogy webinars in December of 2011. Registrants who are unable to attend can receive (at no charge) download links for the recorded webinar and handout.

Topics include:

  • More Brick Walls from A to Z
  • Constructing Families from pre-1850 Census Records
  • American Naturalization Records Before 1920
  • Sarah & Susannah: Two 18th Century Virginia Woman and Their Property
Each webinar is $8 or you can sign up for all 4 for $28.

Are There Some Easy Ones You Can Do First?

I’ve been working on the children of a Wesley Jones who died in Missouri in 1872. Researching the family is somewhat difficult as two daughters also married men with common last names. Completing the family group is an exercise in what is common.

To make it somewhat easier, I’m researching the son with a somewhat unusual first name first along with his sister whose husband’s name was not as common as Jones. Then I’ll work on the other children in the group.

The hope is that information on the children with less common names will shed light on the others.

Can You Get a Better Copy Somewhere Else?

I have copies from a facility that shall remain nameless. The copies were made from a set of microfilm the facility had of the records. The copier that was used was not great and parts of my copies are very difficult to read.

There is a chance that copies made from the Family History Library’s microfilm might be easier to read.
And copies made from the original records (which are in the courthouse) would  probably be even better yet if I could get there or have someone who could. 
If what you have is not a great copy, is it possible to get a better one elsewhere?