Passport applications for married women in the United States in the early 1900s included information on the citizenship status for their husbands or fathers (depending upon the marital status of the applicant). If the wife of your ancestor’s brother applied for a passport during this time period, she might have given information on where and when her husband was born. Wives of two uncles applied for passports in the 1920s and gave detailed information on their husbands. US passports from 1792-1925 are at and at from 1795 to 1905 at that only the passport applications for about the last twenty years provide information on the husband and that Footnote’s really don’t go recent enough to show husband/father information in most cases. ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer […]
Soundex searches are options on many online search interfaces to databases and finding aids. Keep in mind that Soundex generally works best with names of Engilsh or Germanic origin. Soundex searches for Neill, bring up results of Newell, Neal, Nial, Neel, Nowel, Neil, etc. Some are more reasonable variants than others, but Soundex works fairly well on this last name. There are problems with non-English names when Soundex searches are used. A Soundex search for Robidoux will not locate Robido, a very reasonable variant. French names are a good example where Soundex searches are sometimes week. There are other languages that present similar challenges to Soundex based searches. Is the Soundex search option limiting your search? ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip of the Day Fans!
Let’s face it, sometimes information on a document is flat out incorrect. It may be that the ancestor outright lied, someone misunderstood something, etc. but the fact remains. One document can be completely wrong on one item. It happens. When you think you have a situation like this, organize all your documents and outline your reasons for why you think the one document is wrong. That will help you make your case and allow others to see if they agree with you or not? And once in a blue moon, I think someone just gave a “funky” answer to a question on a record just to be clever. And that’s what confuses some of us today. ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip of the Day Fans!
Sometimes the best advice is actually gotten from someone who lives where the records are and has actually used the originals on paper. Digital copies and microfilm is great, but sometimes a person needs at least the advice of someone who is very familiar with the originals. An organizational structure that makes sense onsite might not make sense in the two-dimensional digital or microfilm version. And there might be records that for some reason were not filmed or digitized. If you’re using records from BlahBlah County and have never been there, never viewed the records onsite, you might want to consider contacting a local person with some questions you may have. A local with years of experience with the records may be more helpful for your specific problem […]
It is possible that your ancestor was missed by the census taker, but make certain you have truly looked first, including a manual page by page search if necessary. It is possible too, that your ancestor lived somewhere else for a short time, perhaps even some place of which you are not aware. People do occasionally get overlooked by the census taker, especially if they are people who move around a lot in the first place or otherwise live a lifestyle that puts them at risk for being overlooked. ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip of the Day Fans!
Are you making certain you have the right gender for the ancestor in that baptismal record? A researcher connected a baptismal record to her one ancestor. One problem, the name on the record is male name in the language in which the records are written and the record clearly uses the word for “son” and not “daughter.” If you don’t know the language, find out. The mess you end up with otherwise could be of your own making. ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip of the Day Fans!
 For those who don’t know, Tip of the Day can be received on your Kindle if you have one. Sample copies of my newsletter can be received by sending an email to tips are housed at And don’t forget my two favorite tips:“identify people on pictures now” and “talk to any relatives who may have information–NOW before it is too late” ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip of the Day Fans!
The “heirs-at-law” of a deceased individual are usually those who have an inheritance interest in the estate. Spouse and children are the typical heirs-at-law. Depending upon the family structure and what other relatives are also dead, it can include cousins, siblings, nephews, etc. State statute also plays a role. A legatee is usually someone mentioned in the will of a deceased person. A legatee can also be an heir-at-law, but doesn’t have to be. ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip of the Day Fans!
As we eventually work our way into warmer weather, genealogists start to think of making research trips to far-off courthouses. Here a some quick thoughts before heading out (pre-planning is always advised): Make certain of the courthouse’s hours If you’ll be using court records, in court in session a certain day of the week (which you may want to avoid) Can you bring a portable scanner, can you take digital pictures? What other options are there for making copies? What records can you access yourself and which ones have restricted access? Is there a local historical or genealogical society who may be able to give you specific research advice? ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip of the Day Fans!
When genealogists look at their ancestor’s will, they usually pay attention to the witnesses. They should as those names can be clues. However, witnesses are not necessarily related to the deceased. They may simply be neighbors. An ancestor wrote her will in 1902. The witnesses were not relatives. When I looked them up in the 1900 census, the ancestor who wrote the will and the two witnesses were all enumerated on the same census page. Just remember–the witness should not be named in the will. That’s usually considered a conflict. ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip of the Day Fans!
I usually use scanned copies of documents to transport them, save them, and enlarge them. I don’t often have cause to do much more. However recently, I received a copy of a letter where only the front had been copied. The letter had been folded in thirds with something being written on the back. Luckily it bled through. Scanning it, rotating it, and flipping it horizonally made it easy to read. A mirror would have worked or I could have held it up to the light, but this was much easier. Here is a blog post showing both images and how it worked. ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip of the Day Fans!
Sometimes when I’m stuck in analyzing a document, especially one that is lengthy and may mention several events or dates, I pick out every date and put the events in a chronology. I look also at statements that don’t mention a “specific date” and ask myself if those statements suggest a date or time frame. You might be surprised at what you realize you have overlooked. ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip of the Day Fans!
Remember the purpose of the record when analyzing the information it contains. A birth certificate really is about the birth and minor errors in where the mother was born (if the certificate even contains that information) might not have been considered material. A probate judge was concerned that a person was dead and that probate proceedings should start, but might not be overly worried about the person’s precise date of death. A census was to count people and provide other certain statistical information for the government. The enumerator might not have been overly concerned if occasionally he confused a few children with step-children. ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip of the Day Fans!
You won’t remember that fact, where you found it, where you put it, or who is in that picture. Write it down, type in your genealogical database, identify the picture, etc. You will not remember and the only thing you will remember is that you wished you had written it down. ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip of the Day Fans!
A great place to start that search for that “old” place name is the USGS GNIS ———————————— Check out GenealogyBank’s Offer for Tip of the Day Fans!
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