Do you have the only copy of a family history item that you have not preserved? We are not talking about digital images of records that are available elsewhere as those are already preserved. Personal items such as photographs, letters, handwritten materials, etc. where your original is the only one in existence. What have you done to preserve, identify, and share the item?
Even if your ancestor did not serve in World War I or World War II, they should have registered for the draft. Many of these cards are online free at FamilySearch. The “Young Men’s Draft” from World War II are free, but not indexed–but are in alphabetical order. World War I Draft Registration Cards World War II Draft Registration Cards–Old Men’s Draft World War II Draft Registration Cards–Young Men’s Draft–free at FamilySearch. (incomplete) Get the Genealogy Tip of the Day book. Great for reading cover to cover, browsing, taking notes in, or reading at random to get your research started.
Researching family names we have never heard pronounced can present challenges when those names originate in a language other than the one in which the records were kept. It can be worse when we don’t speak that language either. For any name, try and find out two things: How it was likely spoken by your ancestor. How it is likely said by people today. Both ways matter. That “original” pronunciation will impact how the name is in early records and knowing how the name is pronounced today will impact how the name can be written in later records. This issues are not usually an issue with people researching Jones and Smith. It is a concern when tracing any last name that’s “foreign” and is how Behrens gets written […]
It was not unusual for members of some immigrant communities to change their name some point after their arrival in the new country. The difficulty is that these individuals often immigrated under their original name only to change it after settling somewhere. The anglicization of theirname was not just to make it easier to pronounce, it was also to keep others from knowing their ethnic heritage. Irish immigrants may drop the initial “O” of their last name. Members of other groups may use the first two or three letters of their non-English name upon which to base their choice of an English one. Some would simply choose a different last name. These changes may be documented in the individual’s naturalization record. Family stories about the name change may […]
Terminology used in records can vary slightly from one state to another, one county to another (less often), and from one time period to another. It is always advised to make certain you have everything that comprises a record and know how each of those things fit into the marriage record as a whole. This “Marriage Coupon” was a part of the marriage paperwork when this couple married in Arkansas in 1943. After the marriage, this coupon was submitted to the Arkansas State Registrar of Vital Statistics.
This “Marriage Coupon” from Arkansas is actually a state record–not a local one. It was part of an database of Arkansas marriage records, but since marriage records are generated at the county level, it’s probably not the only record of the marriage. The county may have additional information regarding the marriage, perhaps a marriage application or other “initial paperwork” filings. Always determine just who originally maintained the record at which you are looking. That will help guide you in trying to determine what additional materials may be available. If you don’t know exactly what you are looking at, you don’t know what else could be available and you might not interpret the material as accurately as possible. Get the Genealogy Tip of the Day book. Great for reading […]
If you see an age stated in a document, make certain to determine whether the age is given as of the date of the document or the person’s next birthday. Some records differ on which age they ask for. Not reading carefully could cause you to think ages are more off than they are.
This 1861 census entry from Ontario serves to provide two research reminders. Don’t crop the image too close–you need those column headings if they have them and other entries to give some interpretative context. And sometimes they just put things where there is blank space. Part of the space for the Darling family entries includes page totals for places of birth of enumerated individuals. It has nothing to do with the specific family’s entries. This was determined by seeing the same numbers on the bottom of the page and by manually checking the totals. Those are things you cannot do if you don’t have the whole page. Get the Genealogy Tip of the Day book. Great for reading cover to cover, browsing, taking notes in, or reading at random […]
If there’s a time period where you can’t find an ancestor or a time after which you cannot find an ancestor or relative, as yourself: What was changing at that point in time? That change could be why your cannot find your ancestor. Has the family structure of your ancestor just changed (spouse, death of a family member, etc.)? Had your relative’s children just grown up? Was the political environment changing? Was the economy changing and their occupation was not as in demand as it was before? Were there increasing economic opportunities in other areas? Are there county boundaries that are changing? Were their neighbors moving away and they decided to follow them? Most of us know that life is about constant change. It was for our ancestors […]
I was recently reading a list of questions to ask living family members about their family’s religious practices. The questions were geared towards determining what church the family attended, what denomination it was a part of, where it was located. All of those are good things to ask. There were some questions that might get the memories flowing as well: Did Grandma ever get mad at the pastor? Did Grandpa ever quit going to church? Did someone’s church attendance irritate other family members? Did Grandpa work on Sundays? Were there any funerals where the preacher really called out the deceased for their lifestyle? I can think of a relative who was irritated at the pastor of her church because his “voice was hard to understand.” Another family switched […]
Not every DNA submission has an attached tree and many attached trees contain very few names. But there are those that contain a significant number of names. For those matches you cannot figure out with relatively extensive attached trees, search for step-ancestors, adopted relatives and other non-biological relatives. It may seem counter-intuitive, but there’s a reason why it may be helpful. The submitter of the tree may, without evening knowing it, have attached a step-parent as a parent or a set of adoptive parents as the biological ones. That can make finding the connection hard. An ancestor of one of my DNA kits was adopted and it took me some time to find the names of her biological parents–which I have in my tree. Another descendant of that […]
Guidebooks and how-to materials have to make generalizations when discussing records. Otherwise print books become too large to practically print, much of the material does not apply to many people, and the text becomes too tedious to wade through. But it is important to remember that there can be exceptions. I was reading a guidebook that indicated that in churches that practiced confirmation of young adult members that these records often just listed names and the date of the act. That is true, but there are exceptions. Like a lovely Lutheran church in Nebraska where, for about ten years, the pastor included the date and place of the confirmand’s baptism and the names of their parents. Those were wonderful migratory clues and helped me locate many additional records. […]
If you are needing to find a listing of possible churches that your ancestor may have attended, don’t neglect looking in contemporary city directories for listings of churches. Many city residential directories contain names and addresses of churches. They may also contain the name of the minister affiliated with the church. That information can be helpful if you have the name of the minister who married your ancestors but do not have the name of the minister’s church.
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