If you are fortunate enough to find a biography of an ancestor, consider creating a chronology from the events and dates it contains. This can be an excellent organizational tool as biographies do not always list events in chronological order and thinking about how every event in the biography fits into a larger timeline can be helpful. Be certain to include all events–ones stated directly and ones stated indirectly The same approach can be used with obituaries.
Land records generally record the acquisition and disposition of land. Property tax records may indicate that the owner is deceased or that the widow or someone else is paying the taxes on the property. There may not be a deed transferring the ownership from the estate of the deceased to the heirs until years after their death. If you need to estimate a date of death for a land owner and death records are not extant, consider looking for a death clue in the property tax records.
When collecting family stories, try and get memories from as many family members as possible, not just one. Different family members may remember different details or different stories. And even when they do remember the same event, their perspectives on that event may differ. One is never enough if you can get more.
A friend and I were joking around on Facebook about using tire tracks in the snow as permanent evidence of something and it got me to thinking. Have I converted all my “evidence” into a more permanent format? While I obviously don’t have my information in the snow, some of it is stored in just as fragile of a way. Memories that are only in my head, photographs I have the only copy of, research conclusions that I’ve not written up. They could all easily be gone in a moment. When the snow melts, those tire tracks are gone–and so is the evidence that a vehicle passed through. Are there things you need to preserve before the sun comes out?
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