Dittos and Effers in the Inventory

steer-heiferSometimes one is tempted to “transcribe” a document by writing what is meant instead of what is written. That’s not transcription.

The three items in this inventory should be transcribed:

  • To 3 Cows
  • To 2 Ditto
  • To a Steer & Effer

If you want to make it more clear:


  • To 3 Cows
  • To 2 Ditto [Cows]
  • To a Steer & Effer [Heifer]

but not:


  • To 3 Cows
  • To 2 Cows
  • To a Steer & Heifer

Here the intent is clear. Sometimes it is not. Your initial interpretation may not be correct on one of those more difficult to read records and if you rely on that incorrect transcription you may be creating research headaches for yourself.




Neighbors are not Just People

None of my ancestors lived to anything that might have appeared oclose-enoughn a postcard, but there were people whose homes were next to churches, courthouses and other buildings that may have been the subject of a photograph. There’s a picture of a home that appears in this
picture of Trinity Lutheran Church in Golden, Illinois. Too bad it wasn’t my great-great-grandmother’s home.

We think of looking for our ancestor’s neighbors–consider taking that approach a little further and don’t just focus on the neighbors of the two-legged variety.

A Request and Thanks!

First, thanks for your support of Genealogy Tip of the Day. I enjoy writing tips and hope you enjoy receiving them. I am hoping to start work on some new families as we head into 2016–so there may be tips from families other than the Trautvetters!

A request: please let others know about Genealogy Tip of the Day. I don’t have a marketing budget–so anything that readers can do to let others know about us is appreciated.

And..a request-– also totally optional. If you are considering a subscription to or purchases from any of the following, please use our links below to make your purchase–we do appreciate it:


Now or Next Time?

age-next-birthdaySome records ask for “age next birthday” instead of “age now.” Make certain you are interpreting ages in documents correctly. An age that appears to be a year off may be correct.

I Can’t Find the Heifer or the Effer

This early 18th century estate settlement spells the word “heifer” as “effer” and it makes a good point about initial letters.

There are letters that sometimes simply get dropped when a name is written. The problem is compounded when the dropped letter is the very first one.

  • Hoffman becomes Aufman or Offman
  • Knight becomes Night
  • Habben becomes Abben
  • and so it goes…

The heifer does not care whether it is called a heifer or an effer. Your ancestor may not have cared that his last name was written as Aufman instead of Hoffman. But you will care–when you can’t find them.

Uniquifying and Maximizing the Chance They Take It

If you are considering donating your genealogical material to a library or archives, ask first. Do not just make the donation in your will. Not all facilities are willing or able to take genealogical materials. Then consider or do the following:

  • organize your materials. Libraries usually do not want unorganized boxes of random materials on dead people. The only people who can get by with donating unorganized materials are people who are well-known, influential, and well-connected.
  • uniquify your materials. “Uniquify” is not a word, but if all your materials consist of unsourced photocopies of local records and published materials, the library may simply not want it. Even if it is organized. Ask yourself, “how unique is this material?” The more unique, the more likely a facility is to take it.
  • write out conclusions. Written up summaries of information and conclusions (with cited sources)–even if not actually “published” but simply printed and bound in book form–are more likely to be accepted by a library or an archives.


What Have You Done to Preserve Something?


My Mom and my Grandmother Ufkes probably around 1950.

If you’ve been entrusted with a family item, what have you done to preserve it?

Have you digitized the item? Identified it? Thought of ways to share it and reproduce it?

The original may be special to you, but digital or paper copies may be special to others and a good way to maximize the chance that future generations can enjoy the item as well

Four Reminders from South Dakota

Our recent Rootdig posting on search results from the South Dakota Birth Certificate Index is essentially three tips:

  • Babies aren’t always immediately named
  • First names can be spelled a variety of ways
  • People can live somewhere a short time
  • A couple can be related in more than one way


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!


Do You Know If You Have Signatures?

Transcriptions of documents are great and make reading the entire item and searching for specific text easy. But if your relative signed documents, there are times when those signatures need to be compared. Do you keep track of whether or not you have a known ancestor’s signature and do you try and collect as many digital images of those signatures as possible?

sled-sigIn tracking the movement of one relative, I finally realized that I had a “known signature” of him when he signed a son’s marriage bond and a signed document from a record that I thought was him in a location a hundred miles away. If I had “flagged” him as someone for whom I had a signature, the comparison would not have taken so long.