Abstracts pick and choose key elements of a document, without transcribing anything word for word. Extracts pick out short sections of a document, transcribing those sections verbatim. Transcriptions of a document include the entire document copied verbatim. Abstracts, extracts, and transcriptions serve different purposes. Make certain you know which one you are using.
Some older records kept in ledger-type format may have no page numbers that can be used in the creation of a citation or a detailed reference. There are probably other guides or reference points within the records you can use as a means to later find the same reference. Is the entry a baptismal entry from 1850 in a series of baptisms entered chronologically? Is it a funeral entry from a chronological list of entries from 1812? Are the entries within a series of items numbered individually? Is the record organized alphabetically by farm name (as sometimes happens in Sweden)? Are their image numbers on the microfilm? There’s probably a way you can create a trail to get back to that page–just don’t forget to do it.
It can happen to any of us–forgetting the page number. When looking at the copy of a 1919 legal document, I realized that while I wrote down the book number, I neglected to make certain the page number copied as well. I got the entire document, but the page number is hidden in the shadow on the corner of the page.
The Bureau of Land Management website contains digital images of land patents issued for property in the Federal domain. The bulk of these were issued in the 19th century and many were issued based upon the submission of a military land warrant based on military service. Search for any relatives who lived during the time period where they could have served in the American Revolution through Mexican War to see if a patent was issued based upon a warrant that was issued in their name. The warrant application at the National Archives will document their military service and potentially provide more details about their life.
Way back in 2003, I thought I had “figured out” an 1860 census enumeration with a few irregular entries. I even had a list of reasons why my conclusion was correct. Flash forward to 2011. In attempting to “redo” the research, I reached a different conclusion about the 1860 census entry–one that meant I had more work to do. Genealogical conclusions are always subject to new information, new procedures, and the potential that a misinterpretation was made along the way. Don’t be afraid to revise.
The Union Civil War widow’s pension application indicated the soldier died in Memphis, Tennessee. Another document in the pension application indicated the soldier died in Springfield, Illinois. The soldier’s compiled military service record also indicated he died in Springfield. The document in the service record was created close to the time of his death–within a few weeks. That’s more contemporary to the event than the documents in the pension file. Generally speaking, for there are always exceptions, one wants to get a document that was created as closely as possible to the event that document references. That’s true from a time standpoint and a geographic standpoint. Of course, people can always make a mistake in any record for a variety of reasons. That’s true for documents recorded moments […]
I was working in some 19th century death records. After some review of the entries from the death register, I was reminded of something that sometimes gets overlooked: What are we actually looking at? In this case, I knew that the entries in the death register were made from the actual death certificates. The certificate number was one pretty obvious clue to that import. Another clue was the consistent nature of the handwriting among several pages of entries. Even if they entries were not made on the same day, they were clearly written by the same person. It is always advised to know what record one is using and if that record fits into a larger record creation process. Knowing what you are using is key to analyzing […]
‘ There is a limit to how far back Autosomal DNA testing can be used to determine genealogical relationships simply because a person gets half their DNA from each parent and the further back you go the smaller the potential share you get from each ancestor. That’s why it’s advised that people have parents and grandparents or other relatives of that generation tested. But are there some cousins who are not quite as distant from your ancestors as you are? My great-grandmother Ufkes has several descendants. Two of them are in their late twenties. One of those twenty-somethings is also her great-granddaughter. The other twenty-something is her great-great-granddaughter. Which would be preferable for testing if you could only afford one test? The great-granddaughter would be preferred as she’s […]
Most deaths are recorded “reasonably close” to when the death took place. Laws regarding the recording of death certificates usually include a time frame in which the death must be reported. Because of this, genealogists usually look for deaths with a close time frame to when the death actually took place. This death from Illinois in 1889 is somewhat atypical. It was recorded over two years later. The August 1889 death was recorded in September of 1891. The date of death is correct as the deceased individual’s probate references the same date. The time lag, as of this writing, is a mystery but serves as a reminder to look beyond when we think an event took place to find its recording.
When starting with an analysis of DNA matches, it can be tempting to work on solving that “brick wall” problem right away. That might be a mistake. Two good approaches are to sort out the low-hanging genealogical fruit–those matches that are easy to figure out. This should be done even if the family some of these matches are related on are not the “brick wall” family. The other approach is to sort out matches on those families where you already “know everything.” This can be a good way to improve your DNA analysis skills in order to help you work on your true brick wall. Check out Ancestry.com’s St. Patrick’s Day DNA sales.
If your relative is selling a fractional interest in a piece of real estate, ask yourself: “How did my relative obtain partial ownership in this property?” The usual answer is that there was some type of inheritance. While it is possible there are other reasons, in the majority of cases fractional ownership results from an inheritance. Property tax records and land records may help you determine who the previous owner was. They may also help you determine who the other fractional owners of the property are besides your ancestor. Check out the Genealogy Tip of the Day book.
The US censuses of 1790, 1800, 1810, and 1820 were written on forms that were handwritten by the census takers themselves. It was not until the 1830 census that pre-printed forms were used. That is why census records in the US for 1820 and before vary in layout. There is more about the history of US census questionnaires on the census.gov website.
When using a search option at an online database, do you know how that site implements wildcard searches (using the *, ?, _, or % in place of letters), Soundex searches, and other search options? Getting creative with search terms is often necessary, but if you don’t know how they are really working, you are not being effective. Experiment and look at your results and see if you are getting what you think you should. A Soundex search for the last name Smut on a site with English language last names should result in a large number of hits. And if you don’t know why, then review what Soundex really is. Most sites have a frequently asked questions page, search hints or suggestions, page, etc.
Veterans returning home from the war (particularly World War II and after) were encouraged to take their discharge papers to the local recorder’s office to have a record copy made. That record copy (sometimes filed in “Records of Soldier’s Discharge” or something similarly titled) was the legal equivalent and could serve as a replacement if the soldier lost the original. These records can be a great way to get military information on that relative whose complete military record is difficult to get.
A relative was great about sending me stuff while she was actively researching in county courthouse records and I really appreciated it. She always indicated the volume number of the courthouse book and the page number of the information. The problem is that she sometimes made up book titles when the book did not have one. The titles are the only thing she made up–which is fortunate, helpful to me, and to her credit. Occasionally the titles aren’t accurate. She extracted accurately and I have found (after some digging) the exact book where the originals were maintained in every case. If you are using Family History microfilm of original records, look at the “title sheet” that starts each record and use that for your title if you don’t […]
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