We are excited to announce our first GedMatch DNA utility webinar. More details are on our announcement page.  
It is important somewhere to keep track of your research logic as you progress. Otherwise you might not remember “why” you are researching a certain person. While on a recent research trip, I focused on a certain Benjamin Butler in the 1850 census as being “mine.” Using that enumeration as the starting point, I searched other records and made research progress. A stack of papers, a file full of digital images, and records located were the end result. One problem–I didn’t track WHY I thought this 1850 census entry was for the correct person. It took me hours to reconstruct my reason. That was time wasted. When I decided the 1850 guy was “mine,” I should have written down my reasons. They were valid reasons. Resurrecting them took time–time […]
Always read the entire document or record. The search results found the first reference to Luella Barnett in this 1923 newspaper item. It didn’t highlight the second one. My research won’t be hindered because I overlooked the cocoa reference, but sometimes the missed reference is significant. An astute reader noticed it because they read the whole thing–I should have too.
With every telling of a story or a family tradition, details can change. Sometimes those details are not all that significant. Sometimes they are and change the entire meaning or implication of the story. When someone tells you a family tradition, remember that the original incident could vary quite a bit from what you are told generations later. Record it as you are told it. Indicate who told you it and when. But remember that any detail in the tradition may not be true. Consider them clues.
Do not let your efforts to analyze, understand, and preserve the distant past prevent you from recording and sharing current events and traditions in your own family as well. Preservation is more than taking pictures. Record traditions, family recipes, favorite activities, memories of recent events, etc. before memories fade. Because, like color photograph from the 1960s, memories will fade.
When your relatives married, do you know: what the legal age was to get married? how far in advance you needed the license before the ceremony? what information the records usually contain? what records were usually kept? where the records are located? if the records are available in alternate formats/
Newspapers often published lists of unclaimed letters in the local post office. Think about what appearing on that list means about your ancestor: someone thought your ancestor lived in that location when they mailed the letter the person lived near enough that post office so that sending a letter there made sense Your ancestor could also have been dead by the time his name was published in the paper on the list of unclaimed letters. Appearing on the list is not hard evidence that he was alive on the publication date Your ancestor probably did live in that location when the letter was sent. But, if their name on that list is inconsistent with other known information, there could be a very plausible explanation.
Aunt Luella could eat doughnuts and Aunt Sarah could peel apples. Both of them placed in contests held at a 1923 church picnic in Breckenridge, Illinois. These anecdotal items can be interesting asides to learn about your relative or significant clues–depending upon what you don’t already know about your ancestor. And…don’t forget to read the entire item. This item was located by searching for Luella Barnett, but a thorough reading located a reference to my Aunt Sarah Rampley and my Uncle Herschel Neill (not shown–he won for tying shoes).
Just because you read something posted anonymously in an online genealogy forum does not mean that is is correct. Just because it always happened that way in your family does not mean it happened that way for everyone else. In the last few days, I’ve seen the following pieces of helpful information “shared” by someone: “information can be copyrighted.” No it cannot. Written prose can be copyrighted. Statement of fact cannot be copyrighted. If they could, I would copyright “2+2=4,” charge people every time it was used, and retire. Every family used Bible names only. Nope–ask the parents of Erasmus Trautvetter. Every woman named Susannah used Sukey. Nope–Susannah (Rucker) Tinsley did not. You have to publish an obituary today when someone dies. Nope–my grandmother who died in 2008 […]
There can always be a new variant waiting in the wind. I thought I had seen every variant possible for my aunt’s actual name of Gretje/Greta. Until I discovered her listed as Goethe in a 1918 directory.
Due to increased production and distribution costs, we’re having to raise our webinar prices for our AncestryDNA webinars to $20 each after 4 October. Specific details and current prices are on our announcement page.
A residential directory may contain more than a directory of residents with addresses. Some directories have specific directories after the main residential listing. Those “directories in the back” may contain additional clues about someone you are researching. This 1918 Prairie Farmer’s Directory for Hancock County, Illinois, contained several additional directories, including ones for various breeders of cattle and chickens, tractor owners, automobile owners, and silo owners. The directory contained an unexpected reference to a relative who was living in a different county at the time. His mention in the “Silo Owner’s Directory” may indicate he still owned property in the area even though he did not live there.
A person’s last name might not have been as “fixed” as you think. There are several reasons why your ancestor’s last name may not be as permanent as you think, including: gender–women in some cultures change last names upon marriage (some cultures do not do this) ethnicity–in some cultures the same name is not passed from parent to child parental marital status–a parent marrying after the child is born may cause the child to be listed with different names in records attempts to avoid “the law”–your relative may have changed his name to avoid authorities desire to hide ethnicity–your relative may have changed or alter his name to disguise his ethnic origins desire to be unique–if the town was full of Carl Carlsons, your relative may have changed his […]
This session assumes listeners/attendees have a basic understanding of what AncestryDNA offers, how to navigate their AncestryDNA matches, how to track working with their matches, what shared matches are and are not, and have already done some work with with their AncestryDNA matches–at least having worked through their first/second cousins matches at least once to determine connections where possible. If you have not yet played with your matches, this session is not for you. The basics of the system are not covered in this session. This is a session focused on research methodology and more advanced working through the matches. In this session we will work through several extended examples based on Michael’s own research. This will include a relatively straightforward example,  families that have multiple relationships, and families […]
I maintain the following genealogy blogs: Rootdig.com—Michael’s thoughts, research problems, suggestions, and whatever else crosses his desk Genealogy Tip of the Day—one genealogy research tip every day–short and to the point Genealogy Search Tip—websites I’ve discovered and the occasional online research tip–short and to the point? Subscription/Unsubscription links are on the top of each page. Unsubscription links are also in each email sent.
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