Do Non-Kin Hold Kin Clues?

A high school classmate and I were baptized on the same day. I happened to mention it and shared with her a copy of the church bulletin that mentioned our baptism. She didn’t have it.

Remember that others besides your family may have copies of materials related to your family history. County genealogy groups, both in the real world and online can be one way to with these people.

But your family aren’t the only people who may have personal papers that could help your research.



Intention Does Not Guarantee It Happened

Some records were created before an event took place, usually in preparation for the event itself. The issuance of a marriage license does not guarantee that the marriage ever took place. The announcement of marriage banns also is not evidence of the actual marriage.

Even a church bulletin announcing my baptism that day in church does not guarantee it took place. It does indicate the event was planned and scheduled for that day. And, in all likelihood, it did take place.

But if one document said something was going to happen and other reliable information indicated that event did not happen, remind yourself that not every event intended to be actually comes to pass.


Search for the Living in Obituaries

When searching databases that contain full text of obituaries, make certain to search for the names of living family members who may have been listed as survivors in the obituary.

Don’t just search obituaries for the dead.

A big thanks to GenealogyBank for being our sponsor!

Proof It One Last Time

Yesterday’s tip contained a sentence fragment from an early draft of the tip that never was deleted.  It is easy to overlook typographical errors, errors in fact, spelling and grammar errors, etc.

Always take one last look to proofread something, preferably some time after you originally wrote it.

My personal ranking for errors (starting with the ones that I think are the worst):

  1. factual errors
  2. spelling errors
  3. typographical errors
  4. grammar errors

Actually two and three are pretty close. And while all errors I make frustrate me, errors in fact bother me more than grammar errors.

A big thanks to GenealogyBank for being our sponsor!

What You Cite Should Be In Your Sight

Never cite a source unless it was actually in your sight.

It’s simple:

  • If you saw a tombstone’s picture on FindAGrave, cite that website–do not indicate you were in the cemetery yourself or took the picture yourself.
  • If you saw a transcription of a will in a published book, cite the book and that book’s transcription–do not cite the will itself.
  • If your Mother told you something about her mother, cite your mother as the source-do not cite Grandma as you didn’t hear Grandma actually say that something.

Whether the source is accurate is another story. We just want our citations to accurately reflect what used.

To learn everything you ever wanted to know about citations, see Evidence Explained.


Do you know what is meant if you encounter the word “venter?” That’s the word used in this 1824 will from Tennessee. In this case the word is referring to a wife or mother as the “source of offspring.” The intent here is to make it clear which children are to receive this specific inheritance.

It’s not a mistaken reference to a vintner. That’s something else entirely.

[this tip originally appeared on our old blog in early 2015, but we thought it was worth reposting]

Names Transposed?

Some last names sound like first names and some first names sound like last names. WIth names in a foreign language, it can be easy for the unfamiliar ear to not know which is which. A relative Panagiotis Verikios is enumerated as Verikios Panagiotis in an early 20th century census. I even am sometimes referred to by my last name of Neill.

And that man your ancestor married named Tinsley Rucker?  He could easily be referred to as Rucker Tinsley.

All those Names in the City Directory

Determine who shares your ancestor’s residence in a city directory by browsing all the entries for the last name of interest. All household members will not be listed, but often grown children still living at home, but working outside the home, will be listed.