You may think that the world doesn’t need any more genealogy blogs, but here’s a reason to start one: A relative might contact you. My recent postings on about my findings at the Family History Library in Salt Lake brought about a reply from a researcher in Scotland who descends from my wife’s 4th great-grandparents. I searched for these ancestors in several online databases, all to no avail. Despite this lack of any luck, within two weeks of my posting about the family, there was an email in my inbox. I’m not saying you have to blog every day, or even every week. Personally I’d rather do actual research and analyze what I have. But an occasional entry about what you have found might bring another relative […]
Upon occasion, one hears fellow genealogists being slightly judgemental about a specific ancestor. Instead of getting bogged down in that line of thinking (which doesn’t help your research any), think “why?” Putting yourself in your ancestor’s shoes gives you a different perspective. If you were twenty-six years old, widowed, the mother of two small children, unable to speak English and living where you had no relatives, what might you do? You might marry the first German speaking single male around–one who would not have been your choice if you were twenty years old and still living at home with no children to support. If your great-grandfather “disappeared” consider where he might have gone and what he might have done in an attempt to find him. Was there a […]
Are you working to get more than just birth and death dates for your ancestors? After a while, lists of names and dates get a little dry for even the most serious genealogist. Consider fleshing out other details on your ancestor. County histories, newspapers, and court records are all great places to get beyond the bare facts. In lectures, I refer to my ancestor’s 1850 era Mississippi River tavern as “Barbara’s Bar and Grill.” The local newspaper referred to it as a “house of ill repute.” You never know what you will find until you look. I still don’t have Barbara’s date of birth, but I know a lot about her from court records and newspapers. ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip of the Day Fans!
Have you really thought about how your ancestor’ s was different from your own? Things have changed since your deceased ancestor was alive. Some changes are big and some are small. I haven’t used directory information for years, if I need a phone number for a business I simply “google” it on my blackberry, click on the phone number and dial. Ten years ago I couldn’t do that. And maybe when you think about how your ancestor’s is different from your own, you will realize there is something about that ancestor you have overlooked. ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip of the Day Fans!
Ok, so it’s not an actual tip of the day, but I am pleased to announce we have set the dates for the 5th annual Salt Lake City Family History Library Research Trip in 2010. The dates of our trip are 27 May-3 June 2010. This includes Sunday, but we either use that day for rest, siteseeing, or additional consultations with Michael in the afternoon. Enrollment is limited and $50 will hold your spot until the complete registration is due. For more information visit our site or email me directly at We would love to have Tip of the Day viewers join us in 2010. Back to writing more tips…I am a little bit behind–fortunately because I spent an extra day at the FHL and did […]
One never knows when the hard drive will crash. Are you backing up your genealogy files on a regular basis? Remember, it’s not whether your hard drive will fail, but when it will fail. ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip of the Day Fans!
Yesterday’s post mentioned men who might have had wives with the same first name. Keep in mind that in some ethnic backgrounds “reusing” names of deceased children was a very common practice. One of my Ostfriesen couples had four daughters named Reenste born within a ten year time span. The first three died shortly after birth. The fourth one grew to adulthood. And my genealogy software program thought I was nuts to have a family with four children with the same name. But it can happen. ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip of the Day Fans!
There is a tombstone in the local cemetery. I can’t remember the husband’s name, but he had two wives, both were named Mathilda. One can only imagine how confusing this might be for his descendants. Usually a new wife has a different name. If I researched this individual, the age of his wife might change significantly in census records, her birth place may suddenly be different, or other pieces of information may be inconsistent. Keep in mind that if the details on a spouse are different, it might because there was a different spouse–just one with the same first name. ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip of the Day Fans!
Do you know what kind of record you are using and are you entering the information correctly into your computer database? I have one distant relative who when using records of infant baptisms enters those dates as dates of birth. The church record does not include the date of birth and most baptisms were normally done within a few days of birth. However, dates of baptism are not dates of birth. Fortunately I discovered his penchant for confusing the two before I used his information. All of which points that getting to the actual record is just as important as ever. His transcriptions were accurate—except for saying baptismal dates with dates of birth. ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip of the Day Fans!
Many states took state censuses at some point in their history. Consider expanding your search of census records beyond federal census records. State censuses were often taken in off census years, that is in years not ending in a “0.” ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip of the Day Fans!
If you have an age at death, keep in mind that the resulting birthdate (calculated from the age), may be slightly off. First it required the informant to know the exact date of birth and also required them to make the calculation of age correctly. Without knowing the birth date they used to determine the age, there is no way of knowing if the birth date is correct or not. Always put the qualifier “calculated” in front of these dates of birth. If the person was “older” at the death, the age is a secondary source for the date of birth and should be treated as such. ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip of the Day Fans!
Before making a trip to that out of the way county courthouse, find out a few things about the county seat: Is there someplace to get lunch? Should I stay at the motels? Can I use a digital camera? We were in a very rural county seat several years ago and the town only had a post office. There was no restaurant, no motel, etc. Consider posting a query to the appropriate Rootsweb mailing list/message board about your trip to find out these things before your arrival. ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip of the Day Fans!
Remember when requesting copies of vital records to get an actual copy of the document, not just a “proof.” Genealogists usually need all the information on the original document in the original handwriting. When I got a copy of my daughter’s birth certificate, they brought out a typed copy that basically just gave her name, date and place of birth. While it worked for non-genealogy purposes, I want the “real deal” for my records. My original birth certificate has my mother’s signature on it. A transcription won’t. ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip of the Day Fans!
If your summer genealogy travel plans include a trip to that local county courthouse, consider avoiding court offices on “court day” if possible. Some county courts don’t meet every day and if you are trying to use records on the one day a week court is in session, you may get less help than usual. Try and find out from the local office if some days are “better” than others to come in and do research. ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip of the Day Fans!
I’m a big believer in chains of migration, but while working on my wife’s Frame family I completely ignored it. My theory was that since the 1869 era immigrant went to Chicago and was a painter that he simply settled there because he thought he could find work. When searching for all his family’s US census entries, I noted that one child was born in Pennsylvania. When searching UK census records on his in-laws, I noted that his wife had nephews in the UK who indicated they were born in Pennsylvania. Hmmm. Maybe there was a chain of migration after all and I need to remind myself to look at the in-laws too! ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip of the Day Fans!
Get the Genealogy Tip of the Day Book
Get the More Genealogy Tip of the Day Book