If the date is approximate indicate that

If you have estimated a year of birth for someone, include “estimated” or “about” to let others know that you are uncertain of the date. Otherwise what was originally a guess on your part may be interpreted as a “fact” by someone else. Your notes should indicate how you arrived at that estimate or approximation, including a specific source if one was used.

Who Signed Their Naturalization?

Who vouched for your ancestor when he naturalized? Not all naturalization records mention someone who vouched for your ancestor’s residency and character, but some do. Keep in mind that this person could have been an associate of your ancestor or even a relative by birth or marriage.

And the person vouching for your ancestor could have been an immigrant himself–but would have had to have been a citizen in order to vouch for your ancestor.

All clues.

Is That A Multiple Birth or a Multiple Baptism

Did your ancestors have three children christened at once? Don’t immediately assume that it was a multiple birth. Even in denominations that practiced infant baptism, for one reason or another, children of different ages might be baptized on the same date. Look for other records to confirm that the children were in fact baptized on the same date. They may have been twins or triplets, but confirm with other records when possible.

My grandmother and two of her siblings were all baptized in 1915 in a church which practiced infant baptism. They were all single births and why they were baptized on the same date I am not certain. It could easily have been a new minister, a realization that “it needed to be done” or some other reason.

Yet More Brick Walls and Virginia Patents in DeedMapper Webinars

We have just released recordings (and handouts) of my two latest webinars, “Yet More Brick Walls from A to Z” and Using DeedMapper to Plat Virginia Land Patents.”

The session on DeedMapper discusses how patents for John Rucker and several of his neighbors were located using the Library of Virginia website. The presentation discusses the downloading of the patents, reading them, inputting the descriptions into DeedMapper and attempting to fit them together using the plats created by DeedMapper. The digital media for this presentation can be purchased for $8.50.

The session on “Yet More Brick Walls from A to Z” continues our popular series on this topic–with yet another list of brick wall breakers–with discussion–from A to Z. The digital media for this presentation (handout and presentation) can be downloaded for $6.

When Your Dude Is Lost

My children’s great-great-grandfather apparently disappeared around 1920. In a renewed attempt to find him, I  have decided to look for him in areas where he had siblings, aunts, uncles or cousins. Some of his immediate family was in the Chicago, Illinois, area, but research on his parents indicates he had uncles and aunts in Texas and Canada–two places he could easily have settled.

So when someone “disappears” don’t go “nationwide” until you have to. Keep in mind that they might have settled, even temporarily, near a member of their extended family.

Threats to the Social Security Death Index

We rarely get “newsy” on Tip of the Day, but we’re making an exception for this issue. If you use the Social Security Death Index and are a US resident–please consider contacting your representatives in Congress and make it clear that the Social Security Master Death Index does more to prevent fraud than cause it. Learn more here:


Some Won’t Like What They Hear

Some relatives (close or distant) might not like what you tell them about their relative or ancestor. The husband of one of my aunts killed himself in the 19th century, most likely because he suffered from a debilitating disease for which there was no real treatment. A relative of this man was very communicative with me until I mentioned how the relative died and the fact that my aunt divorced him.

That was the last time I heard from the correspondent.

Some people do not want to hear anything unfavorable. Remember it is our duty to report accurately what we find, not to judge or lay blame. We don’t have to necessarily tell every negative story  we discover, but somethings are hard to leave out without really altering the person’s life story. The reason why someone spends thirty years in jail and stories that are published in newspaper after newspaper are sometimes hard to “sweep under the rug.” If a death certificate mentions a relative committed suicide by disemboweling herself because she was suffering from stomach cancer, I might leave that detail out of my notes and mention that cancer was a contributing cause of her death. I will include an image of her actual death certificate with my records, but will let others discover that if they care to dig that far.

If we are factual, not mean or spiteful, and others are unhappy with our discoveries, that may just be the way it has to be. Our job is to report our ancestor’s stories and judge documents for accuracy in order to determine the story as best we can. I’ll leave judgments regarding my ancestors’ behavior to someone else.

Nearly 11,000 Facebook Fans Offer on Casefile Clues–$11

To celebrate getting really close to 11000 fans of Genealogy Tip of the Day on Facebook, we’re offering a special on my genealogy newsletter, Casefile Clues.

Get 52 issue subscription to my Casefile Clues for only $11! Process your subscription securely here. Don’t wait–it’s been a while since we offered a subscription rate this low…around 20 cents an issue–Casefile Clues has no advertising either.

Want two free samples of Casefile Clues? You can download them via this link-only your email (name can be made up if you want) is needed for the free samples–no credit card or anything and no obligation.