Write up every piece of information you know about your “lost” ancestor. Every piece. Include a source citation for every piece of information you know about your ancestor–if it came from an interview of a relative, so state. If it was on a piece of paper or a digital image of that paper, cite it. Make certain you have transcribed the information completely and accurately from that source. If you don’t have a source for a piece of information–indicate that. That doesn’t mean the information is wrong, just that you don’t have a source for it. Are there any relatives of the “lost person” who have not been fully researched? And if you think they are fully researched, have you really confirmed that? Are there any words or […]
I began my genealogy research when I was in junior high school. As a result my funds for copies of genealogy documents was limited–very limited. As I got into high school, I performed local research for others to earn money to support my genealogy habit. But my budget was very tight. I was selective about the items I would pay to obtain a copy of–very selective. I also wouldn’t obtain copies of records that had information “I already had.” As I review my files a few decades later, I realize that there are things on some families that I never obtained. That is the case with the death certificate of Jans Janssen who died in Illinois in 1929. I knew the names of his parents and his date […]
Internet and digital newspaper searches for individuals with common names can be difficult. John Smiths and Mary Jones are everywhere. Searches for individuals whose last name has another meaning, such as Lake, King, Noble, etc. can be just as challenging–if not more. Elizabeth Lake, William King, and John Noble create their own search problems. For some searches, location keywords based on your ancestor’s life can facilitate finding the person of interest, such as: place of birth (town, county, etc.), place of death, other residences, etc. Names of states or territories may be too common and not effectively narrow your search. Or they might perfect–if just depends. For other individuals, searches that include a specific part of a residence (particularly a street name for urban relatives), an occupation, or […]
Searching the trees of your DNA matches for names can be a way to sift through some of the low-hanging matches that are easier to figure out. Of course many DNA matches do not have trees so this approach only looks at those trees–a definite limitation. There are other things to consider as well: The tree might not be correct and the name is wrong. The shared name (and the connection to that family) might be too far back in the tree to share any DNA through that family. There might actually be other connections you have with that person (through spots currently blank in their tree or yours) and while you share an ancestral name on your paper genealogy tree, your shared DNA is through another family. […]
One of the best ways I eliminate some errors in my reasoning is to go back and look at a conclusion that I have written and look at every part of it that is based on “what I think I know” and what I have some documentation for. Thinking when doing genealogical research is advised. That’s entirely different than thinking we know. What we “think we know” may be based on: misconceptions, our own experience (when it doesn’t apply to the problem at hand); facts we have remembered incorrectly; assumptions; stereotypes about the family being researched; and so on. Any of these things we “think” we know can be hindering our research. Genealogy Tip of the Day book is here. Learn more about it. If you’d like to get our genealogy […]
If the first genealogy DNA test you’re going to have done is for someone who was adopted at birth with unknown biological parents, consider working on a test for someone who was not adopted and whose parents, grandparents, some great-grandparents, and the basics of family structure are perhaps already known. This will allow you to practice and to build your analytical skills. That can be easier to do for a testee where the paper genealogical tree already partially exists. You may be less overwhelmed, less stressed out about the results (because it’s not your own family), and gain some additional insight into your own search. That experience will help you when you analyze the results for the adopted individual. Genealogy Tip of the Day book is here. Learn more about […]
When was the last time you wrote some of your own personal history and memories? It’s always ironic to discover a genealogist who has worked up many of their families and spent years searching for personal ephemera from their own relatives only to not leave any such record of their own memories, life, and experiences. A Facebook fan mentioned that she keeps a Word document open so that whenever a personal post I make reminds her of something she can immediately go and write about it before she forgets. That’s an excellent idea. Working on such writing is an excellent idea when you are stuck and at a seemingly impasse in your own research. The diversion may give the subconscious parts of your mind to contemplate your problem […]
We’re still excited about the release of Genealogy Tip of the Day–the book. Repeat tips, time-sensitive items, and marketing material has been removed. It’s just tips–and a few pictures. Purchase options include: Directly from Amazon–some vendors claim to have “used” or “library” copies–I’m not certain where they got those. Directly from me–either by credit card or check. These options are on our website. Thanks!
Online newspapers and obituary websites are a great way to find obituaries of recently deceased individuals. Do not limit your search to only the individual online newspaper and compilation sites of published obituaries like www.legacy.com. View the funeral home and view their version of the website. That obituary may be different from the one published in an online newspaper, particularly dependent upon the newspaper’s charge. Genealogy Tip of the Day book is here. Learn more about it. If you’d like to get our genealogy tip daily in your email for free, add your address here.
I always make it a habit to search for World War I and II draft cards for just about any relative who was of an age to have registered. Besides the details on the registrant, the name of the person “who will always know your residence” can be helpful as it may give addresses for individuals who are otherwise difficult to trace. You may even discover someone listed when you do not expect it. My uncle had been married for near twenty years when he registered for the World War II draft. Instead of listing his wife, he picked his sister Fannie–my great-grandma. Genealogy Tip of the Day book is here. Learn more about it. If you’d like to get our genealogy tip daily in your email for free, add your […]
A reasonably close DNA match whose seemingly complete tree contains no names that match can be confusing. The difficulty is determining where the problem rests. An informal adoption is one reason this can happen. A relatively close relative who was born in the 1870s reminded me of this. Initial research on him located records towards the end of his life which covered the time period from his 1912 marriage until his death in the 1940s. Several children with this wife were mentioned in various records. When I worked to complete the gap between his birth and his 1912 marriage, a more accurate chronology was completed: living in Nebraska in 1880 and 1900 census (with parents)–from census records; married in Nebraska 1901–marriage record; child was born in 1904 in […]
In most counties in the United States, probate records come in one of two forms: record copies of legal documents created during the probate process which are typically recorded in bound volumes and files/packets containing original copies of documents that were used to settle up the estate. Depending upon the time period and the location, there may be several different types of record volumes of probate records: bonds, wills, appraisements, inventories, etc. Occasionally the record copy contains handwriting that is easier to read than the original document or annotations that are not on the original. The file/packet of loose papers may contain items that are not recorded in the bound volume. For those reasons, it is advised to search both the record copies and the file/packet of papers–if […]
In some locations and in some time periods, couples may have executed a marriage contract which outlined which property belonged to the future husband and which property belonged to the future wife. These documents were to clarify how property would be distributed when one member of the future couple died. The date of the marriage contract is not the date of the marriage. It is the date that the contract was executed. There is also the possibility that the couple never actually married. Genealogy Tip of the Day book is here. Learn more about it. If you’d like to get our genealogy tip daily in your email for free, add your address here.
I have my “good” tree where information is documented and sourced to the best of my ability. That tree is tied to my DNA results. Then I have a working tree that I keep private and is for my use only. It’s used for analyzing my DNA matches. It contains what was in my “good tree” and other information I’ve added but not necessarily always validated as much as I should. It contains information on ancestors of various cousins and DNA matches who are not my own direct line ancestors. It contains information I’ve compiled in my attempts to determine the connections I have with some of my DNA matches. That way I don’t duplicate work trying to figure out matches and sometimes while working on a new […]
The recording and handouts for my AncestryDNA 2020 webinar have been released. More details are on our announcement page. The presentation, handout, and color chart (PDF and editable word file) can be ordered at the introductory rate for $20. Download immediate.
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