We’re excited to offer this new session on 6 November 2018! Check out the details on our announcement page.
Female relatives can often be in plain sight, hiding under a title instead of their actual name. It’s not unusual for a woman to simply be listed as “Mrs. Jones” or, as in the illustration “Widow” Goldenstein. That may be why they aren’t located in indexes when their first name is used. In the illustration all the children are listed with their first name–just not the mother.
That one record you’ve found, a deed, a death certificate, a will, an estate settlement, probably was created because something else happened. For some documents it may be obvious what caused the document to have been created. But a deed? Why was the property being sold? Was the couple planning to move? Had they fallen on hard times? If a guardianship was filed and the parents were still alive, what was the reason? Was there an inheritance that someone didn’t want a parent frittering away? Always ask if what you are seeing or have located is just the shadow of a larger event. Records weren’t created in isolation. And even if you know what caused a document to have been created ask yourself what other documents might also […]
We’ve converted my AncestryDNA class into a series of presentations–no “online attendance.” Download and view at your convenience. More details on our announcement page–take advantage of our introductory rate.
Genealogical databases on some websites change. Information is updated. Corrections are added. Occasionally images are improved. Always include the date on which you accessed a database and performed a search–so that if it is updated, you know when you searched it last and for whom you searched. See our post on Ancestry.com‘s changes to one database. 
When citing a census page that has several page numbers written on it, make certain you indicate which page number you are using in your citation. Common ways to indicate include using the type of writing and the location of the page number, such as: page 55 (typed, upper right) page 44 (handwritten, lower right) Genealogy Tip of the Day book is here. Learn more about it and get your own copy. If you’d like to get our genealogy tip daily in your email for free, add your address here.
Are you actually thinking about the new information you locate? Or are you on auto-pilot as new details come across your path, responding to them without really thinking about them? Responding in a knee-jerk fashion to information you think “is the same” when it’s actually different could be the cause of your research problem.
If some piece of information given by your ancestor in a record does not make sense, consider the possibility that he lied. People lied for many reasons, including wanting to get married wanting to enlist in the service wanting to avoid the service trying to escape their past (parents, spouse, children, debts, etc.) An outright lie can be difficult to research around, but people did lie about their age, place of birth, name, marital status, etc.
Locations in records can easily be off more than one might expect. A relative born near Plattsburgh, New York is listed on a passenger manifest as being born in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. It’s easy to see how Pittsburgh and Plattsburgh could be confused if the writing is messy. And, if the clerk is in a hurry he may have paid no attention to the “NY” and the “PA.”
If you are fortunate enough to find a biography of an ancestor or a statement they made in court, 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. Genealogy Tip of the Day book is here. Learn more about it and get your own copy. If you’d like to get our genealogy tip daily in your email for free, add your address here.
Some married couples never see their former spouse after a divorce. Many times that is because one partner leaves and never returns. There are other possibilities. Some former spouses may continue to reside in the same area and interact with each other, especially if they have children. One divorced couple in my family appear on a mortgage with a son-in-law after their divorce. Other times couples eventually remarry, even after they’ve had subsequent spouses. Or they may even later live together, even if they don’t remarry. Those aren’t made up examples—just situations from my own family where I’ve removed the names.
Shopkeepers or businessmen were not the only people who appeared in the classified ad section of a newspaper. John Tucking lost his mockingbird in 1866 and advertised for its return in the Daily Illinois State Journal. Don’t gloss over those search results from the classifieds. They may contain a little plumage you can add to your ancestor.
If you are fortunate to find more than one source that provides information about an ancestral event, remember to cite each of them separately and indicate what they actually say. The records will not all agree, you’ll have to decide which (if any) of them you are going to give the most credence to. Making that date or place the “preferred” one, doesn’t mean that the others are removed from your genealogical database–you do want to remember that you did find those other sources and what they said. But in your notes indicate why you made that date or place the preferred one. What about that source or piece of information made you think it was the most reliable?
A few reminders: tips are short–and not meant to be extensive, academic discussions of a topic tips are reminders–all of us forget things from time to time tips may send you looking–for more details on that topic tips may not apply in all areas and time periods–check and see if that concept applies to your research situation tips are sometimes basic–we’ve got people at a variety of levels who participate and we were all beginners at one point in time For more in-depth discussion consider my Rootdig blog.  And thanks to all who participate in Genealogy Tip of the Day! It is appreciated.
A death certificate indicates that a relative was born Rush County, Indiana, on 23 December 1846. The tombstone indicates that the relative was born on 25 December 1846. The 1850 census indicates that the same relative was a native of Indiana and was three years of old at the time of the enumeration. That means that the person was born in either sometime in 1846 or 1847. It’s not additional evidence that the person was born specifically on 23 December 1846. It is consistent with that date of birth (which is good), but the census does not indicate that precise date of birth. Use the death certificate as the source for the 23 December 1846 birth in Indiana. Use the tombstone as  the source for the 25 December […]
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