We can’t really cover analyzing “old published genealogies” in one tip, but there are some suggested ways for using information printed in genealogies published in the early twentieth century and earlier. There’s more to the analysis than this, but keeping these points in mind is an excellent start. Genealogy Tip of the Day book is here. Learn more about it.
Make certain you have looked at every item in a relative’s census enumeration–not just the name, age, relationship, occupation, and place of birth. Many post-1850 US census enumerations provide varying additional details about your relative’s life, including property values, place of birth of parents, citizenship status, literacy details, married within the census year, and more. Don’t just ignore those other demographic details about your relative. Sometimes the biggest clues are in the smallest pieces of information.
Are there stories and memories of your family in your head that you have not preserved in some way? The human mind is the most fragile source there is. Do not forget to record and share information that only you know. It could be as simple as the identification of photographs or as involved as writing your autobiography. But writing down memories does not require a degree in English or journalism. It just requires a desire to get them written down. Most genealogists would love to have a few pages written by a long-deceased relative. Maybe we should leave behind some of our own.
From a while back… Variations in how your ancestor’s name was spelled can be endlessly frustrating. However, it’s worth remembering that a variation of how your ancestor’s name appears in an index can arise from a variety of situations: Keep in mind that one of more of these could explain why James Rampley ends up indexed as Jarvis Pample.
Generally speaking, genealogists who write and lecture extensively about genealogy research and methodology, put sources in one of three categories: This classification scheme is not perfect. No scheme is perfect. This classification scheme does not comment on the accuracy of the record. That’s the job of the researcher as some original sources are virtually worthless and some derivative sources are excellent. For more about record classification and analysis, consult  Evidence Explained. 
My uncle was married to his wife for ten days when he died of the flu in 1918. His widow never remarried and lived the rest of her life with her parents. In at least one federal census, she was enumerated with her maiden name. The listing is probably an error as later records list her with married name. Everyone else in the household had the same last name, except my aunt. It is very possible that the census taker simply got confused. Do you have a female relative who is inadvertently listed under their maiden name in a record created after their marriage?
Jim Beidler reminded me that I needed to add a word in my post regarding moiety from a few days ago. It’s a half interest in property, but usually an undivided half interest. This typically results from an inheritance, but there occasionally could be other reasons.
I had some copies of the Tip of the Day book left over from the booth we had at the Ohio conference this week. You can buy them while they last on our website at the conference price ($22)–no shipping! Please click on the appropriate link–the one you want is on the top of the page shown below. https://genealogytipoftheday.com/…/genealogy-tip-of… Thanks! Michael
Before you search any database, determine the time period and geographic region it actually covers. The title may say “Ohio Marriages 1810-1860” but there may be counties not included at all or there may be counties where the records only go from 1820-1850. That database of Dawson County, Nebraska, death records from 1880-1920 may not include any entries from 1902 because that volume is missing. That set of Carthage Democrat newspapers may have years not included because they could not be found. The same goes for any print publication. For a book, read the preface. For a database, look at the list of contents, read the frequently asked questions (or the “more about section), or contact the compiler to determine just what is included. Not everything is complete.
The word “moiety” generally means half of something. The word is often used in real estate documents to indicate a half-interest in a piece of property.
I’m not overly knowledgeable about cars and passed the mechanic’s detailed discussion of my vehicle issues to a friend with more smarts about vehicles than me. Did my friend get a complete and accurate description of the problem from me? Probably not. I wasn’t the best conduit for the information. The same applies to family stories that have been passed down. There could have been details that did not make complete sense to the hearer/reteller of the story and their retelling of that story may have been impacted by that lack of knowledge. Incorrect details can be unintentional on the part of the teller and may not change the essence of the story. But they can cause our research to go astray if we are unwilling to admit […]
I’ve used a cropped version of this cat picture as a fun illustration for years. I always knew it was a cat in my Grandmother Neill’s window, but assumed it was the south window of her home. When recently viewing the entire picture, I realized it was actually a window on the east side of her home. The roof over the front door could be seen in the picture–something I had cropped out of the image I used. I had also cropped out the shadows of icicles that appear on the upper portion of the picture as well. Don’t crop. There could be details in the edges.
Do you have family history ephemera–letters, diaries, day journals, etc. that might be easier to digitize if a digital camera is used instead of a phone? If the writing is legible, photographs may be a great way to quickly digitize an item. Just make certain no detail is lost. Scanning takes more time and taking pictures may be better than intending to scan…but never getting that scanning done. Here’s a longer set of thoughts on the topic.
Some rural cemeteries, especially very small ones that are no longer used, may require crossing private property to access. If this is necessary, obtain permission from the landowner before attempting to access the cemetery. Cemeteries that are along a roadside or have public access are a different story, but there also may be restrictions about “visiting hours,” decorations that are allowed, etc. Remember: just because your ancestor is buried in a grave on private property does not mean you have the right to trespass on that property to view the grave.
If your ancestor owned real property, you should search for at least the following records: In the United States these are usually county-level records, although there are places where these records are kept at the town or city level. Knowing your ancestor owned property is not enough–those records may provide more information.
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