Don’t forget to look for the entire family in a city directory. In this small town the others were easy to see, but in an urban area it wouldn’t have been so obvious that the wife and children were living in a separate location. Geo. Trask (listed at 110 E. North Street) is the husband of the Jennie Trask living on Beecher Avenue. There’s not other individuals with these first names living in the area and both of them died well after 1930. In this example, everyone with a dot by their name in the illustration were members of the same family, but for some reason the husband (George) was living at a separate address. The householder is listed as “Mrs. Jennie Trask” and the others living at […]
Records contain many statements and each of those statements can either be true or false. Analyze each statement separately, thinking about who likely gave the information, how likely they were to actually know the information, and the circumstances under which they were giving the information. It’s also helpful to think about whether the person might have any motivation to give incorrect information and whether there would have been any penalties for giving false information. It’s also worth considering if more than one person could have been involved in giving the information and how publicly that information was given. A recent blog most on Rootdig discusses some of these concepts in regards to a 1907 court case.
Sometimes doing something is better than doing nothing at all. I have a significant amount of family pictures, papers, and other items that I may never get property scanned. Some of the items will be difficult to scan given their age, original paper, how long they’ve been folded, their condition. etc. Taking pictures of items with my phone is significantly faster than manually scanning each item. It is also less potentially damaging for those items that will not lay flat or are fragile. Pictures are also great for artifacts that are not “naturally two-dimensional.” I have quite a few photograph albums. In some of these the photos can be easily removed. Other albums have the photographs affixed in a way that makes removing them difficult if not impossible. […]
A death certificate indicates that a relative was born Rush County, Indiana, on 23 December 1846. The tombstone indicates that the relative was born on 25 December 1846. The 1850 census indicates that the same relative was a native of Indiana and was three years of old at the time of the enumeration. That means that the person was born in either sometime in 1846 or 1847. It’s not additional evidence that the person was born specifically on 23 December 1846. It is consistent with that date of birth (which is good), but the census does not indicate that precise date of birth. Use the death certificate as the source for the 23 December 1846 birth in Indiana. Use the tombstone as  the source for the 25 December […]
Do you have family history items that only exist in their original physical form and have never been photographed or digitized? A picture of an item can be a way to preserve it in a fashion and create a means by which the story of the item can also be shared. What have you not digitized?
When citing a census page that has several page numbers written on it, make certain you indicate which page number you are using in your citation. Common ways to indicate include using the type of writing and the location of the page number, such as: page 55 (typed, upper right) page 44 (handwritten, lower right) Genealogy Tip of the Day book is here. Learn more about it and get your own copy. If you’d like to get our genealogy tip daily in your email for free, add your address here.
Depending on the handwriting, the letter groups “tt,” “ll, “tl, and “lt”can be confused, interchanged, and misinterpreted. When reading handwriting manually, it’s easy to see what the “intent” was, especially if the name is in a record where you expect it to be. Not so easy using indexes. Butter, Buller, and Butler can easily be seen in the same word–along with some other renderings as well. The same is true for Trautvetter, Trautvelter, and Trautveller. Appropriately constructed wildcard searches (usually for Bu*er or Trautve*er) will locate them all. Searches based upon the sounds in the name may not since “t” and “l” do not sound the same. Something to think about when looking for that special feller.
Upon occasion, one hears fellow genealogists being slightly judgmental about a specific ancestor. Instead of getting bogged down in that line of thinking (which doesn’t help your research any), think “why?” Putting yourself in your ancestor’s shoes gives you a different perspective. If you were twenty-six years old, widowed, the mother of two small children, unable to speak English and living where you had no relatives, what might you do? You might marry the first German speaking single male around–one who would not have been your choice if you were twenty years old and still living at home with no children to support. If your great-grandfather “disappeared” consider where he might have gone and what he might have done in an attempt to find him. Was there a […]
Photos are not the only thing you should identify for those who may come after you. Personal effects that you have collected or have inherited also need identification. Sometimes it’s possible to put labels on these items and sometimes it is not. Consider making an electronic picture book of your items, artifacts, etc. with a description of what you know about the item, where you got it, its original purpose, etc. The illustration is a “rooster cookie jar,” but jewelry, furniture, and other items can be included in such a compilation. The “picture book” could be a great place to include longer stories than one can put on a notecard, the back of an item, etc. Electronic copies of the book can be shared with those who may […]
Custom create your own maps to help you visualize how close (or not) your ancestral villages are. This one was helpful for me in analyzing my DNA results. Each name is an ancestor with ancestry from the village listed before their name. Having all the places on the same map made visualization easier. 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.
There are several sites where complete digital copies of out-of-copyright books can be downloaded. Some of the main sites are: Google Books Hathitrust FamilySearch There are others–feel free to put your favorite in the comments. Not all sites have the same books and some sites have better scans than others.
Always think about the family that was left behind when someone died? Were there small children who would have needed looked after? Was there a spouse who would have needed some assistance? Was there an adult child who would have been unable to look after themselves? Who would have been nearby to help these individuals? Were there court records, guardianships, or other records resulting from issues when the person died?
It can be easy to get one perspective or viewpoint in our head. It can sometimes be difficult to get away from that viewpoint or even to realize that our perspective is somewhat skewed or even causing our research problem. I knew my grandparents had two stillborn children and that it impacted them significantly. I learned early on in my family history research that I was not to ask my grandparents about “the babies.” It wasn’t until decades later, after my children were grown that I realized something that should have been obvious: those babies impacted my Mom as well. My brother and I are two years apart in age. I don’t remember Mom being pregnant with him. He’s my only sibling, so I have no memory of […]
Locating living family members can be crucial to getting copies of pictures, finding other family papers, getting pieces of verbal information, etc. There’s one first cousin left for all my grandparents (born between 1903 and 1924). Both of my parents have first cousins living Interestingly these first cousins range in age from 93 to 40. Older ones don’t necessarily remember more or know more than younger ones. Older ones don’t necessarily have more family “artifacts” than younger ones do. It often boils down to those who got told the stories and those who helped cleaned out the house when the surviving parent died. But don’t neglect the cousins. Even ones younger than you may know or have more than you do.
After farming with his father in Illinois did not work out in the 1920s, an uncle moved to a nearby town in Iowa to work a factory job. That was the town where he and his wife lived for the rest of their life. At least that was the story I was told. The reality was not that straightforward. The two children of the uncle and his wife were born in that factory town in the 1920s and federal and state census records suggest that they lived there between at least 1920 and 1925. But, they returned to their home county in Illinois to rent a farm–apparently in two separate locations based on the 1930 and 1940 census enumerations. By World War II, the family had returned to […]
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