Do You Estimate Dates?

Estimate dates of events when possible, and include your reason for the estimation. When researching a family in Michigan in the 1860 census, looking at the ages of the children told me that the couple was probably married after 1850–meaning they were probably not in their own household at that point in time.

Is it evidence that they were not married in 1850? No, but it gives me some guidance when researching.

It’s not proof either, but that’s another tip (grin!).

Not Directly Connected

The individuals that may help you track your ancestor may not always be direct ones. In trying to research on relative who moved from Canada to Michigan in the 1840s, the easiest person in the group to track (because  of his name) was the father-in-law of the ancestor’s brother who also moved with the brothers. 

The best way sometimes to extend your direct line is to get away from your direct line.

Make Your List

When you are including information about yourself in your genealogical information, consider including a list of things for which you are thankful. Remember that one day, you too will be a deceased relative, and leaving behind something about yourself is just as important as leaving behind information about other dead people. Someone in a hundred years may treasure your list of things that mattered most to you.

Think about it.

And then think about a way to preserve it beyond your lifetime.

Happy Thanksgiving

Here is wishing a “Happy Thanksgiving” to our readers regardless of their location. Don’t neglect your living relatives while searching for the deceased ones.

When you need a break from your holiday activities, check out some of the blogs and posts:

Funeral Home Records

Have you considered contacting the funeral home who handled your ancestor’s funeral to see if they have information that could aid you in your search?

Remember that these records are private business records with the funeral home does not have to share with you–be extra polite and considerate.

There may be additional information that was not in the obituary, details about who paid the funeral bill, who else was buried in the set of graves as your ancestor, etc.

Or there may be no records at all.

Are Minor Historical Events Necessary?

One never knows when a date may crucial to your research. In analyzing a claim for a personal horse that was requisitioned by the United States military in the War of 1812, I noticed that the date of the requisition was the same date on which the commanding officer of the unit was dismissed and the day after the unit was involved in a controversial burning of a village.


Maybe or maybe not. But if I had never researched the unit and looked carefully at the dates, I never would have noticed.

Non-Population Census Records

The United States took federal census records other than those counting the population. These non-population census schedules that mention individual names include the following schedules for the following years:

  • Agricultural: 1850-1880
  • Defective,Dependent, and Delinquent: 1880
  • Industrial: 1850-1870
  • Manufactures: 1820, 1850-1880
  • Mortality: 1850-1880
Most were not retained by the federal government and were given to state agencies willing to maintain them. Some have been microfilmed, some are available online, and some are only available in their original paper format. Your search should begin with the state archives for the state where the person of interest lived.

Using Color

When you create charts and forms for your own personal use, do you use color as a means to organize the information? In their informal notes or reports, some people color their assumptions, references to a certain ancestor, or other key details. Use of color helps to make certain things stand out.

And noticing things is what information analysis is all about.