Pick the Easiest or Most Unusual Name

When searching for a family in an everyname census, search for the family member whose name is the least likely to be spelled or enumerated incorrectly. It is no guarantee you will find the right people, but sometimes it’s easier to find John than it is to find Fredericka. The problem with some names is that they have quite a few diminutives that may make them harder to find. Of course, unusual names spelled correctly are easier to find also–as long as they spelled correctly.

Did Your Ancestor Rush Somewhere?

If your ancestor goes “poof” and comes back 5-10 or so years later, have you consider they headed west for the Gold Rush or any other event that caused people to pack up and leave in a hurry? Some families found life wasn’t all what they thought it would be in their new location and returned to where they were from.

And of course, the direction might not have been west at all. It’s just worth remembering that your anecstor might have moved somewhere in hopes of better opportunities and, when finding those opportunities weren’t what they thought they would be, eventually headed “back home.”

Research Them Where They Stayed

Was your family one of those that kept heading west every few years, leaving family behind in numerous locations? Have you searched for other relatives in those “left behind location?” If your ancestor left Amherst County, Virginia, in 1801 your research in Amherst County should not stop in 1801. There might be other family members left behind whose records provide clues about your direct line ancestors. There might even be descendants in the area today who could provide research help.

I Used My Sight to Cite the Site

There are words that some genealogists get confused. Cite and site are two of them–we’ve just thrown sight in for fun.

To cite means to indicate the source of some material and to indicate that source in a way that others can locate the material that was used.

The site is a location where something is or where something took place.

And of course, sight means to see something.

So if you use a cemetery as your source and you visit it yourself, you have used your sight to cite the site.

Webinars: Charts Galore and What Is Not Written

We have announced a reduced schedule of genealogy webinars for May 2012.

New presentations include:

  • What is Not Written
  • Charts, Charts, and More Charts
We’ve also rescheduled two presentations that had to be postponed earlier this year, including Google Docs. If you already signed up, you do not need to do so again.
We’re looking forward to some great sessions.
You can learn more about the sessions or register at:

Do Your Transcriptions Need a Little “sic?”

Document transcriptions should always be made as close to the original document–errors and all. Sometimes it is clear that the original document is in error. It is not the job of the transcriptionist to correct the error. Instead put the word sic in brackets after the error, like so “I John give to my daughter William[sic] the farm on which I now live.” Sic indicates that the word was copied from the original and the error was not done on the part of the transcriptionist. Use sic whenever it appears that the original is incorrect.

If you feel the need to comment on the error do so in a commentary that clearly is separate from the transcription

Did You Contact the Church Archives?

For years, I was unable to access the records of one church my ancestors attended because when I went to try and see them I was told that the pastor was gone and no one else had a key to the safe in which the records were kept. Later on a whim I contacted the denominational archives and learned that the records I needed had actually been microfilmed and were in their collection.

Have you contacted the archives of the denomination with which the congregation was affiliated to see if they have a copy or the records or any additional information on the church in question? It may be worth a try.

Just last week I learned that the records of another church I need have been microfilmed and using that microfilm is easier than making a trip to actually view the records.

Last Set of $5 Webinars

Our last set of $5 webinars are on the following topics:

  • Illinois Research
  • The Probate Process
  • US Naturalization Records pre-1920
  • Local Land Records in Public Domain Land States
  • Newspaper Research
The link for more details and ordering is here:
Sale on these is over in 36 hours–don’t wait.

Pete and Repeat Were Walking Down the Street

Remember that just because several documents give the exact same information it does not mean that information is correct. The same person can give the same incorrect information for several documents or records. What it means is that they were consistent. It is possible that information listed on only one record is correct when what is listed on multiple records is not. Sometimes.

Did Your Ancestor Get a Passport?

Have you checked passport records for ancestors who might have traveled overseas? Before the 1910s many Americans traveled abroad without a passport, but after that time a higher proportion of travelers obtained passports. One relative traveled to Mexico in the 1920s for his work and obtained a passport to do so. Another relative was a Red Cross nurse who went to Europe shortly before the first World War and completed a passport application with significant information.