Just a thought… Don’t assume those websites that say they will host your images/data “forever” will be around forever. The digital world is littered with websites and companies that no longer exist. FamilySearch is probably into preserving things for the long haul. Using online sites and preservation services is not bad, but just keep in mind that they may not preserve things as long as you think they will. Companies go out of business on a regular basis.
A good reminder… Never be so stuck on an initial conclusion that you avoid other reasonable scenarios or avoid looking for records because the person you need to find “simply cannot be in that location.” A relative concluded a family member returned to Germany for a visit and returned to the United States simply because the ancestor could not be located in the 1870 census. The story of the trip was repeated enough that it became an accepted fact. It’s easy to jump to conclusions when we are first starting out. We can sometimes “break brick walls” by going back and reviewing those initial conclusions.
We’ve posted an update about the return of Casefile Clues on our website.
Documenting your research is also about including in your notes why a record caused you to reach the conclusion that you did. Some records state things pretty clearly and explicitly–we say those are “direct” statements. Other times the researcher needs to take statements from several documents, combine them with other known facts to reach a conclusion not specifically stated in any one document. We say those statements are “indirect.” That reasoning needs to be included in your notes. Just in case anyone else wonders how you got a “piece of information” that’s not explicitly stated in any one record. Or in case you forget. But that would never happen, right? A reminder: For several years, quite a few years ago, I wrote a how-to newsletter, Casefile Clues. It contained […]
It isn’t always possible to preserve every item from your family’s past, especially items such as dishes, furniture, fabrics, toys, and the like. Space is limited. Some items do not last forever. Family members may not be willing to keep everything you’ve saved. In light of that, consider taking photographs of these items and writing their stories and preserving and sharing that document. At least that way something gets preserved and a digital file takes up much less physical space than actual items. Writing your own memories and stories is always a good idea and family artifacts can be a good way to job memories as well.
For twenty years, it seemed as if my ancestor Ira Sargent was dropped off by a UFO in Hancock County, Illinois, in 1880. Turns out he wasn’t. He was in the 1850 and 1860 United States Census listed under the last name of his step-father–whom his mother had married in 1849. Until I discovered the last name of the step-father, I was unable to find Ira. Is it possible that your UFO ancestor wasn’t dropped off by aliens but was instead listed in records as a child under his (or her) stepfather’s last name? And that the first time they used their “birth name” in a record was when they married?
For several years, quite a few years ago, I wrote a how-to newsletter, Casefile Clues. It contained brief case studies of problems, transcriptions and analysis of records, and problem-solving suggestions. Now that I’m retired from my day job and that the second tip of the day book is done, I’m considering bringing it back. If you’d like to get an email announcement, add your address to the list here
If there are two witnesses to a marriage and you can “figure out” who one of the witnesses is, consider the possibility that the other witness was the significant other of the first witness. Or the other witness could just be a friend of the couple of which you are unaware. Or the witnesses were two totally random people who had no relationship to the couple or to each other. Don’t assume. Research.
In our attempts to locate living relatives, we sometimes ignore those ancestral siblings and cousins who left no children of their own. After all they have no descendants with whom we can make contact. That is true, but records on the childless relative may provide more details on earlier family members and how the estate of the childless relative was disbursed may mention previously unknown relatives. And completely researching the relative without children is always advised in order to obtain a complete picture of the family.
From a while back… One person’s “useless” is another person’s “useful.” Recently I heard someone say that naturalization records in the United States in the 19th century are “useless.” It’s true that they generally don’t provide as much information as later records do. Naturalization records in the United States in the 19th century generally only provide the name of the individual, the date/place of the naturalization, the person to whom allegiance was owed, and the names of the witnesses. Occasionally there may be a declaration of intention and those can provide more information. But even those little bits of information can be helpful. The document puts your relative in a place on a specific date. If the law was being followed, he had to have been in the […]
Instead of working on locating all the descendants of an ancestral couple, focus on a limited number of generations and research them more thoroughly than you would other wise–and share or somehow publish your findings. I’ve decided to start on several ancestors and document through their grandchildren–their vital events and what else I can learn about them in a variety of records. It’s a more manageable project than gathering all the descendants. I have many 3rd and 4th great-grandparents for whom this will be a chore enough.
I had a relative who was married several times in the middle part of the 20th century. The way I tracked her was through city directories. Her last name changed, but she lived in the same home despite having several husbands. If your ancestor is changing some things about themselves, think about what remains the same. That may be how you’ll find them.
Tracking immigrant ancestors in their country of origin usually requires determining where they were born. This is essential to know where to search and to increase the chance that the correct person is located. Sometimes a person may not give their actually village of birth on a record in their new country but instead give the name of a bigger town which is more likely to be known. Always be open to the possibility that your ancestor who was from the big city overseas may actually have been from a much smaller village twenty miles away. This is one more reason to locate as many records in the settlement region as possible as it increases the chance that you discover this small town’s name buried in a record […]
From a while back… The notice regarding the returning home of the 78th Illinois indicated that they were leaving on the 10th “instant.” That means “this month” and is sometimes abbreviated “inst.”
A few random genealogy thoughts from some postings I read this morning while catching up. Never state a location more precisely than you reasonably know it. You may never know some locations as precisely as you would like. People will misinterpret statements no matter how precisely you state them. Source every genealogical statement you make, but remember that any one source can be wrong. Ten sources saying the same thing does not make them correct . There are exceptions to everything. Please buy the Genealogy Tip of the Day book–the 1st or the 2nd (see how we slipped that in there?) But it’s ok if you don’t. Most of your ancestors did not live in a soap opera. If a soap opera has to be written to make […]
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