Reading records in old script or a foreign language can be difficult. Reading just the item of interest is never advised. Looking at entries on the same page and on adjacent pages can give you insight into how the entries are typically structured. They can also help you in reading the entry in which you are really interested. Other entries may be more legible, have more words you can initially figure out, etc. Keep track of those words and names and then use them to help you with the item of interest. This can be a particularly good technique if one priest with awful handwriting wrote entries for thirty years–during which your relatives reproduced, married, and died.
Don’t forget to save those old envelopes. Sometimes the addresses can be just as helpful as anything else. This is especially true if the letter does not contain any addresses or does not include complete names.
What was the last undigitized record you accessed? Not everything is online. Manuscript records can hold great clues–many which have been hiding for decades. It can be more difficult to access materials that have not been made available in digital format, but brick walls are sometimes “brick walls” because no one has gone beyond materials that are readily available. There are many reasons for “brick walls,” but accessing as many materials as possible is one great way to reduced the number that you have.
It can be frustrating to find a record that contains an apparent lie. Before we assume a piece of information or a statement on a record is truly a “lie,” it is important to think about what we know and how accurate our original information is. Are we certain that piece of information really is a lie–or is there something we don’t know or are we the one who is misinformed? Did the person really lie or were they just confused and misunderstood the question? Did the person just guess? If they did lie, did they do it to protect someone or to protect themselves? Did they lie to “keep peace” with living family members? It is said there are two sides to every story. Sometimes there are […]
Some times it takes someone really familiar with the location and the local records to help you find all there is to find and interpret it correctly. The courthouse, local library, genealogical/historical society, etc. are all good places to find names of people who are familiar with local resources and may be able to help you. That person may or may not live in the area any more. What you want is someone who is familiar with things, not necessarily someone who lives next door to the courthouse (although sometimes that helps).
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