There’s one reason I track the source of where I obtained a genealogical record: myself. Today I was looking at a digital image I had of a record. Because I sourced it, I knew that I had made the digital image from a copy of the microfilm at the Family History Library. That’s different from a scan I might make of a photocopy I made at the courthouse years ago, different from a scan I made of a paper copy I made from a microfilm printout, and different also from a picture I may take of the actual record. All of these have differing levels of detail from the document.  If I don’t know where I got it, it makes it difficult for me to assess years later whether it might […]
When transcribing a document or an item from a document, use brackets to indicate when you are “guessing” at a word or phrase or adding a word or phrase of your own. Personally I add words or phrases rarely, preferring to comment later if something warrants it. The word sic (Latin for “as is”) should be bracketed as well when it is used to indicate that you copied something exactly as it was in the document–even though it looked wrong. For example, “…to my son[sic] Elizabeth I leave my farm…”  
There is usually a slight difference between the legal use of the word “heir” and “legatee.” An heir usually is someone who has a biological or legal right to inherit from a deceased person, even if that person leaves no will. A “legatee” is someone mentioned as being given property in a deceased person’s will. A recent posting on Rootdig covered the nuances in a specific example from 1903.
I have a great aunt whose birth name was Adolphena Katherine Trautvetter. Apparently as a child she went by Kate and as an adult she want by Pheenie. Nicknames can change–and not just back to the “original” name.
Your relative’s tombstone may not have been erected immediately after her burial. Consequently, various details may have been given to the stonecutter from a memory which may have not been precisely accurate. Court records indicate one relative who died in 1888 did not have a stone erected on her grave until 1906. Is it possible your ancestor’s stone was erected decades after his death, perhaps with information submitted by someone whose memory was not quite accurate?  
Don’t assume because a couple got married and divorced that they never married again. My ancestor and her second husband divorced in the 1870s only to married again in the early 1880s and divorce again a year later. The second divorce record references the first marriage and divorce. An aunt divorced her first husband in the 1860s and took him again as her fourth husband in the late 1870s. If the remarriage is subsequently later or in a different locality the records may be more detailed than when the couple first married.
Individuals who remember precise dates can easily be a few days (or more) off. It’s been only a few months since my mother passed away, and a few days ago I thought that 24 May (the day this post originally appeared) was the two-month anniversary of her death. It wasn’t. I was three days off. If, after two months my memory of the date is a little fuzzy, imagine how off it could be if it were years later. Don’t be surprised if dates of events given well after the fact are a little inconsistent. It’s normal.
FindAGrave is a great site and can be helpful in finding burial locations and tombstone images. Just remember that what’s on the memorial page may be more than what is actually on the stone. When adding information from FindAGrave to your genealogical database don’t include as a stone “transcription” what you are not certain is on the stone. You can indicate you found it on the Memorial Page on FindAGrave, but don’t indicate the stone says things that it does not. The Memorial Pages for two of my great-grandmothers includes birth information that is not on the stone. That’s fine, but  I should use the image of the stone for my transcription so that I don’t indicate in my records that stone says something it does not.  
Remember when analyzing sources and the information they contain that just because a majority of sources are consistent does not mean they are correct. They may have had the same “original source” that was simply copied over and over and that “original source” may not have been right. The majority of documents on my grandmother give one place of birth. Two documents give a different place. However, those two are contemporary to her birth and with probable informants who had first hand knowledge. The other documents (significantly more than two) contain information given later by informants who did not have first hand knowledge and only knew what they were told. Just because the majority of sources agree does not mean that they are correct. Analysis isn’t always that […]
Don’t forget to look for the entire family in a city directory. In this small town the others were easy to see, but in an urban area it wouldn’t have been so obvious that the wife and children were living in a separate location.
Using Online City and Regional Directories 23 June 2015–7:00 pm Central Standard Time   This session will provide an overview of city and regional directories that are online, discussing fee-based sites, free sites, search strategies to find online directories, and search strategies for using online copies of city directories. Several case studies involving specific directories and specific individuals will be discussed as well–with cases be representative of a variety of locations and individuals Register for Using Online Directories for $7. Bounty Land, Preemptions, Cash Sales and Homesteads: Federal Land Records 25 June 2015–7:00 pm Central Standard Time Ever wondered about federal land records–what they are, how they are searched, and what they can tell you about your ancestor? We will look at Bounty Land  applications, preemption claims, cash sales, […]
Whenever I have a difficult time finding something, I try and ask myself “why was this hard to find? ” Sometimes the “trick” was something I overlooked. Other times it wasn’t. But reminding myself of what the problem was sometimes gives me insight into other people I can’t find. One issue a recent search for an 1851 marriage from St. Louis was that I didn’t have right maiden name for the wife.
When reading through estate records and inventories, pay close attention to those individuals who are buying property from the estate. There is a good chance that they are relatives and neighbors. In more recent times  the names may not be a dramatic revelation, but in an earlier era it may help you to establish geographic proximity of two individuals.
I send out a weekly update with summary content from my genealogy blogs, along with a few extras. The latest copy can be viewed here.
When obtaining a copy of a deed record from a courthouse, don’t forget that the deed in the courthouse is a record copy. In the early days of record keeping, those deed copies were handwritten or typed transcriptions. Later courthouse copies of deeds were made by some sort of photographic process. It’s not the original deed in the courthouse–it’s a transcription or a reproduction. The original was retained by the person obtaining the property, just like today.
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