Those Old Employers

To learn more about your ancestor’s employer as given in a city directory, search the rest of the city directory as it may include advertisements or list the employer in a list of area businesses. Consider performing a Google search for the name of the business and search local and regional histories as well, many of which have been digitized at Google Books ( or (

Get It Even If You Think You Know What It Says

Sometimes researchers don’t get specific records because they “know what the record will say.” Sometimes the record may say exactly what you think it will. And other times it will say something completely different. While it may not always be inexpensive, if you have a “brick wall” ancestor, make certain you have not avoided getting records because “you know what they will say.”

Something unexpected in those records may answer your question.

Don’t Rely On Memory

We’ve mentioned it before, but another reminder does not hurt:

“Don’t rely on memory when sending emails about ancestral problems, writing blog posts, or creating entries in your genealogical database.”

You may end up creating more problems by inadvertantly saying something that is incorrect and having that something get passed on, and on, and on.

Do You Have the Wrong Name? And Proofread!

Did you relative get the wrong name in their head? I wrote a complete blog post about a man named Joseph Watson, only to refer to him as James Watson almost every time I used his name. Is it possible that your ancestor simply referred to the wrong person when giving information?

And proofread what you write–more than once. It’s possible that you made a mistake as well–and those accidental, “got it in my head wrong” mistakes sometimes come back to haunt you.

Look After You Think You Should

Stopping because you have located one record is never a good idea. By keeping on going, I discovered that an ancestor was divorced from the same man not once, but twice. By keeping on going, I also discovered that another relative’s first marriage “didn’t happen” and they were actually married two years later. Combine these unusual circumstances with the occasional record that gets entered or indexed late and you have even more reason to look for entries or documents “after you think you should.”

Will They Tell More As They Get Older?

While some relatives take their family history stories to their grave, others become more willing to tell stories as they age.

The reasons do not matter, but remain open to the possibility that Aunt Martha may eventually decide that the world will not end if she tells you that “family secret.”

Or course some people are not going to tell you things no matter what.

But some do become more open with age. It may be worth a try.

Did They Ever Use Their “Real” Name?

My great-grandmother was born Frances Iona Rampley. There is only one record on her that uses that name: her birth certificate. Her marriage record, mortgages she signed, her social security death index entry, 1900-1940 census enumerations, court documents, estate papers, tombstone, etc. all list her as Fannie.

Your ancestor may never have used their “real” name. And if they never used their “real name” was that their real name? In the case of my great-grandmother, I list her as Fannie and in my notes indicate what her record of birth says.

Do the Math

This was a comment posted by one of our Facebook fans, but it makes for an excellent tip of the day.

Do the dates “fit?” Can the parent be having children at that age? Are they too old? Are they too young?
Are the parents dying before the children are born? A father can die 6 months before the child is born, but a mother dying 6 years before the child is born is not possible.
Genealogy isn’t connecting the dots (well, most of the time), but often it is about the numbers. 

Happy Holidays from Genealogy Tip of the Day

Merry Christmas, Season’s Greetings, and Happy Holidays from Genealogy Tip of the Day.

We’ll be running around doing typical holiday stuff, but daily tips will still come your way like always courtesy of the scheduling feature. We may be delayed in approving comments and answering emails, but we will get to them.

Thanks for all the support, suggestions, and interaction we’ve had this year. It’s been fun.