Genealogy Tip of the Day Book

If Amazon’s too slow, we still have copies of the Genealogy Tip of the Daybook that can be sent directly to you via USPS. It can be a great way to refresh yourself on things you forgot, learn new things, or view research from a different perspective.

It can be read in one setting, browsed at random, or used to generate ideas for your own research. It’s easy to read, informative, and geared towards helping you with your research and not seeing how much labored prose and ten-syllable words can be used in one sentence.

If you’re “stuck at home” (or even if you are not), get your copy today!

There’s more information on the book on our website.

The Power of the Nearest Three

For that missing (or not missing) ancestor, do you know where the nearest three of these buildings, geographic features, organizations, social groups, etc. were when your ancestor lived in the area. It could help you through those research road blocks. Things to think about include the nearest three:

  • churches,
  • schools,
  • newspapers,
  • cemeteries,
  • county seats,
  • rivers,
  • mountains,
  • county lines,
  • federal land offices (if applicable),
  • train stops,
  • towns where people could trade and get supplies,
  • employers who employed more than a few people,
  • etc.

There are others besides these. In some cases. three may not be enough. In some cases it may be more than you need for effective research.

Get your copy of Genealogy Tip of the Day–the book.

Was there a Lifetime Estrangement?

Sometimes the fight between two family members lasts for the rest of their lives. It can impact how much children or grandchildren know about certain family members. It can impact how family ephemera gets passed down from one generation to another. It can impact how individuals do not know they have first cousins living fifteen miles away.

It can be difficult to say how an estrangement can impact those left behind, but the genealogical impact can last for generations.

Family may need to be found to settle up an estate but their only communication could be through their lawyers.

The Story of the Plant

Some of us are fortunate to have flowers and other plants that have ties to relatives. Those items can be a living reminder of a long or not-so-long deceased relative and a connection to that person we may never have met.

If you have an ancestral plant, take a picture.

Include the picture and a story of the plant as a part of your genealogical record.

Reminder: Indexes Are…

Indexes are finding aids to take the researcher to the actual record. They are not mean to replace the actual record. Indexers can make mistakes by transcribing names incorrectly or leaving names out.

Do not rely entirely on an index to a record to find what is in it. Search manually if you have reason to believe that a person who does not appear in the index should be in the actual record.

Do not rely on the index’s transcription of the record to be either complete or accurate. Look at the record yourself.

What It Is Not

When you have reached a genealogical conclusion, it’s always good to include the records, their citations, and the reasoning you used to reach that conclusion.

It’s also good to track what something is “not” along with the reasons why.

A relative sent me a 1917 picture of my Newman ancestor that included her two living siblings at the time–taken when the brother was celebrating his 50th wedding anniversary. There was writing on the back and she included a scan of that writing as well.

She then included what I felt was an important comment which essentially said “I don’t know whose writing this is on the back but it’s not Mom’s and it’s not Grandma’s.” That was a good thing for me to know. The cousin would have recognized her mother’s handwriting and knew her grandmother well enough to recognize her handwriting. Knowing whose writing it was not was helpful to me.

Of course I would love to know whose handwriting it actually was–but that may never be known.

But sometimes just knowing what is “not” is better than knowing nothing. And when you know what you don’t know you should track how it is that you don’t know it.

Same Last Name a Relative?

Don’t assume two individuals are related because they lived in the same proximity and had the same last name. In certain regions, some last names are extremely common and may have originated in ways that have nothing to do with shared ancestry.

Or the relationship may be so distant that it will require tracing the ancestry further back than is possible and was so far removed that the individuals were unaware of the relationship.

The last name of Janssen is common in my maternal families. It literally means child of Jann/Jans. There were many men named Jann and during the time period when surnames were derived from first name, many unrelated families ended up with the surname of Janssen.

What’s the Tie?

If your ancestor moved from point A to point B, what was the “tie” that took them there?

Was it a relative? Was it a job? Was it the ability to evade the law? Was it the ability to “start over?” Was it a financial opportunity? Was it free or cheap land? Was it their church? Was it something else?

People don’t often move without any reason or connection to the area.

Search the Digital City Directory for an Address

Digital images of city directories give genealogists search options that we could only dream of in the days of manually paging through them. One way to search these items is by address to determine if other individuals are listed as residing at the same location as your ancestor.

Before searching a directory for a specific address browse it so that you can:

  • Determine what items are abbreviated and how.
  • See what numbers are spelled out–is it 4th Street or Fourth Street?
  • Determine how addresses are formatted and entered in the directory.