Was Their Name Translated?

If you have an immigrant ancestor whose native language was different from the language where he settled, the last name you have for him may not be the name he used in his homeland. Some individuals would officially change their names, frequently when they naturalized. Others simply changed their name with no official paperwork at all.

And then there’s the ancestor whose last name was Latin and he changed it to the German equivalent when he immigrated to America.

One just never knows.

Pick a Date and Make a Snapshot

I’m not a big fan of “genealogy games,” but here is an activity that might get you to thinking. Pick a random date–at least 100 years in the past. Determine which of your ancestors were alive on that date, where they were probably living, and what stage in their life they were in (child, young adult, newly married, widowed, etc.).

Also think about how you know what you do about your ancestors on that date.

Those Title Cards on Family History Library Microfilm

The “title cards” from Family History Library are good things to make digital images of as they help you to remember from where you made images of actual records. But these cards by their very nature are somewhat generic and won’t be enough to create a complete citation. But they are a very, very good start.

What Grandma Says…

Some of what Grandma tells you will be incorrect. Some of it will be correct. Most of it will rest somewhere in between the “truth” and the “untruth.” Write it all down and make it crystal clear that it was what Grandma said–not information you “proved” in official records. The stories Grandma tells about her family say something about her. Record them.

Then go and try and figure out what really happened.

Did Great-Grandma Get Married Instead of Going Poof?

If your male ancestor died before his wife and you can’t find her in death records, consider the possibility that she married after his death. There may be no family tradition of a subsequent marriage and records would be tied to the last name of the later husband.

Maybe the reason she went “poof” after her husband died was because she remarried.

What Is a Maiden Name?

Researching women in the United States is compounded by the fact that researchers need the woman’s “maiden name,” the surname of her biological father.

In some cases what the researcher thinks is the “maiden name” may actually be a step-father’s last name, the mother’s last name, an adopted father’s last name, or the last name of a previous husband.

All things to consider.

All Michael’s Genealogy Blogs Have Moved

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