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.…/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.
Some locations have precise geographic borders. Those borders may change over time, but often are reasonably well-established. Some places, particularly those whose names are informal and known to locals, may have more fluid boundaries or just be a general area. Ethnic regions of some urban areas can change over time and have boundaries that are in a constant state of flux or have no precise definition. In some rural areas, certain areas may have a name that known to locals but does not appear on any map, post office list, or other geographic finding aid. Frequently these items are mentioned in newspapers, family letters and correspondence, and other unofficial records. Some thoughts on locating such places can be found in our recent post on Prairie Precinct in Winnebago County, […]
The small picture nearly fell out of the book into which it was tucked. The photo had apparently been clipped from a larger photograph and was likely used in a locket. Fortunately I know who is in the photograph although the back of it is totally blank. I decided to take a picture of it using as the background the page of the book in which it was found. I should have identified the book, but I’m guessing that the placement of the picture in the prayer book was simply to prevent it from being lost. My caption for the photograph indicated what I know about the picture and how identification was made. Is there a picture somewhere still in existence with my grandmother’s image cut out of […]
There’s a difference between nicknames and diminutives. Diminutives are variations on a name that are based upon the sounds in that name. Bill, Billy, Will, etc. are diminutives for William. Calling the same person “Red” because his hair is read is using a nickname. Calling him “hotheaded Bill” is technically both Using the name Kate, Kat, or Kathy in reference to someone named Katherine is also using a diminutive. Referring to my low-German ancestor Trientje by the name Katherine is not using a nickname or a diminutive. In this case it is a anglicization (translation into English) of the name Trientje. Your non-English speaking ancestors “new names” may not have been nicknames or diminutives at all–they could have been translations of their actual name.
From a while back… My relative purchased a farm in the late 1860s. It still owned by a descendant today. The last deed to the property recorded in the local recorder’s office is that deed of purchase in the 1860s. There are no other deeds. That’s because every transfer after that time has been through a bequest in a will when the current owner died–in 1877, 1939, and 1969. The wills served to transfer title. There’s no missing deeds, it’s just that at the time the will served as the “deed” because it transferred title. (This tip is partially due to a reader’s comment on an earlier tip. Thanks!).
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