Women and Naturalization

Throughout much of American history, the citizenship status of a woman was tied to that of her husband. In fact until the early 20th century a woman had no separate citizenship status of her own. If you have immigrant ancestors, male or female, or if your female relative married an immigrant, you may want to take a look at the article “Any woman who is now or may hereafter be married . . .” Women and Naturalization, ca. 1802-1940 on the National Archives website.


Genealogy Tip of the Day is sponsored by GenealogyBank. In December, they are offering an annual subscription for a monthly rate equivalent to less than $5 a month!

Genealogy Is Not a Video Game Where Everyone Is Dead

Family history research is more than simply pointing and clicking your way to an ancestral tombstone2answer–or finding where someone has already solved your problem.  No matter what the TV commercials, the shows, and the websites indicate, some problems require a little more than five minutes of work or an “automated search” to find the answer.

In the United States, the research becomes a little more challenging when the people being researched lived before the American Civil War in states that didn’t keep vital records. The problem is compounded if the individuals didn’t have much money and moved on a regular basis. In these situations, research becomes (at the very least) about:

  • learning about all the records kept during the time period and locations where the ancestor lived;
  • learning about the history of the area and the current events of the time;
  • accessing material at all levels–local, county, state, colonial, federal, etc.;
  • learning about the applicable laws and common legal practices during the time period;
  • having an understanding of how your ancestor probably lived on a day-to-day basis;
  • being willing to shed assumptions about history, culture, and your ancestor

Not everyone gets leaves on the online trees–especially Benjamin Butler.

Geographic Organization

Organizing your genealogical information geographically is simply: get a map. It is easy to overlook things when you don’t have a map at which to look. Political boundaries impact where records are kept and it is difficult to know which church or cemetery is nearby without one.

Make certain you have contemporary maps as well as modern ones. For those with urban ancestors, street names change, subdivisions are added, etc. For those with rural ancestors, county lines do move and people do cross them.

If the only map you have for a location is the one in your head, it’s time to get your head out of the clouds and get a real map.


Genealogy Tip of the Day is sponsored by GenealogyBank.  Search there for your relative. 

Only An Approximation

There may be times where the best you can do is to approximate. A location may only be as precise as the county or a date may only be as precise as the year. While for some researchers this can be frustrating, there are times where that level of detail is all the records will allow you to determine and it may not impact the more important conclusions about family relationships.

It’s rare when an entire genealogical conclusion hinges on whether a person was born on 17 or 18 December of 1915.


Assuming There are Pastors in the Pasture


“Pastoral Directories” means livestock owners.

I saw the database title on  Ancestry.com titled “Pastoral Directories” and immediately searched for a relative who was an Australian minister. He was not located.

And that’s because this directory was of livestock owners–not ministers.

Always learn about a new database before searching it.

And always keep your assumptions in check. Things might not mean what you think they do.

Find Out the Phone and Camera Policy Beforehand

If you are going to a courthouse to research, determine what their policy is regarding the use of digital cameras and cell phones to take pictures of records before you arrive.no-phones

Some facilities will not allow you to use these items to take pictures of records in their custody–instead preferring you to have copies made at a per-page fee. Consider asking (nicely) if you can pay the same fee to take pictures of the items instead of making paper copies. Suggest that it’s easier on the records, uses less paper, etc. and that you are willing to have the staff watch as you take pictures.

These are things to find out before you arrive at the facility if at all possible.


Is That Stone Incomplete?

Is that tombstone incomplete? The Bible verses were never completely inscribed on this stone from Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery south of Carthage in Hancock County, Illinois.ulfert_sartorius2

Preserving Past You Webinar

At long last we’ve released my “Preserving Past You” presentation.

It is an overview of prepping for preserving your genealogical material past your lifespan. It’s not a technical presentation, but focuses on things to think about, getting started, actually doing something, thinking about what is practical to preserve, and planning as much as possible

Don’t put off saving your stuff.

The presentation (media file and handout) can be ordered here for immediate download.