Posts Tagged ‘documents’


Since I’ve lost quite a bit of information that I had entered in my family data program (Family Tree Maker 2011) due to the computer crash on Election Day, the thought of recreating everything I’ve lost has overwhelmed me. (Public Service Announcement: Don’t let this happen to you! Back up! Back up! Back up! And then make sure a copy is in the cloud!)

Some of that lost data was from cemetery information from Find a Grave. My plan of attack – is to begin alphabetically in the list of individuals in my data program – and search for their date of death (if I don’t already have it), cemetery location, and other pertinent information. Needless to say, two individuals in and I’ve discovered children of a couple I didn’t know existed complete with birth and death information. I always finish off by entering the Find a Grave Memorial Number in my database – then I know that I saw the record on Find a Grave.

Generally, as I locate the burial/cemetery information – especially if it’s in Ohio – I go to FamilySearch and search for a death record. Not only will that give me a second source of documentation, but sometimes it gives a burial date and perhaps a more specific death date than what is listed on Find a Grave.

(Public Domain Image downloaded from FreeStockPhotos.biz)


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Though my posts have been a little sparse in the last month or so, I’ve still done quite a bit of research.  I’m attempting to clean up my family file – gather death and marriage dates and add source documentation to items I’ve found.

Luckily, I am able to access the Census records on Heritage Quest from home through my library’s database.  Between that and the databases on Family Search I’ve been able to gather many more bits of information and sources.

My steps include:

  1. Finding an ancestral family (let’s use my 2nd great-grandfather, Florus Allen House as an example).
  2. I check to see what census records I have for him and make sure all are sourced correctly which includes the date census was taken, series, roll, page, dwelling and family numbers, and all information pertaining to the household.
  3. Then I check surrounding households to see if any relatives are nearby.
  4. If I find that I’m missing a census record, I re-check the databases using wildcards, just the first name, different surname spellings, etc. to see if I can locate the record.
  5. I check to make sure that ages match up for children or if there is an in-law, grandchild or other relative also living in the household.
  6. From there I move on to the children in the household and begin looking for them in census records after they have moved out of the family home.  I use the same type of searches as I did above.

The information this yields has documented marriages, children of the marriage, birth months and years, approximate length of marriage and the number of marriages a person has had. 

For my ancestors living in Ohio, I’ve been able to look at the Ohio Deaths on Family Search and have been able to gather death dates, whether married, cause of death, location of death and usual residence, birth dates, parents’ names, and occupation.  Sometimes the informant has been a family member which helps document that.  All of that information combined with other sources has been able to provide better documentation.

I’ve also discovered while doing my clean up that information I found through other means or from another person, hasn’t been accurate.  For one child of my 2nd great-grandfather, I had found a record (not sourced) that gives a marriage date – 20 years after this person had allegedly died.  I’ve not found any documents to support the death or the marriage – so on the “notes” section of my family file I list what documents support that this person was a child in the family (census records), and where I found the other information but that it is not proven yet.  In other words a big question mark!

I’ve also found similarly named individuals in the census records that I’ve had to check different documents in order to offer proof it is the individual I’m researching or one who belongs to an entirely different family. 

This is a slow process but one that has yielded promising results.  For me it is akin to working a jigsaw puzzle and checking each piece to see where or if it fits at all.  Half the fun is getting there!

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I started updating my genealogy website – All My Branches – yesterday. I have located documented facts for folks that I hadn’t listed yet. Nothing is online yet but I will let you know when I have them up. I’m also hoping to include new obituaries and photos.
Do you have a genealogy website – as well as your blog – that you update? How frequently are you able to do that? Has your website, or your blog, brought new family members into your life?
I’m always amazed when I receive an email from someone who is related to me. What’s even more wonderful is the maintaining of that new relationship. I’ve had a cousin who is descended from my great-grandfather’s half-sister send me information and stories; others who I’ve traded information and family history information with; another cousin related to me through my maternal great-grandmother’s brother send me scans of Bible records, pictures and family stories; and much more!
My family tends to think of me as the “family historian” or the person who “keeps” all that stuff. Unfortunately, one of the items I’d love to get my hands on and scan is my dad’s family scrapbook. My cousin – who I haven’t seen since 1971 – has it and she’s not giving it up any time soon. She also hasn’t been on good terms with anyone for at least 20 years no matter how much we all reach out to her. My fear is that sooner or later one of her children will end up with the scrapbook and either not care for it properly or dismantle it to get the pictures and no one else will see it intact.
Do you know what treasures are in the possession of your cousins and out-lying family members? Did you hear about the genealogical treasure trove that was found in the attic of a Maryland home recently? I think if that were me several things would happen:

  1. It would be a combination of Christmas, my birthday, Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Easter all rolled into one!
  2. My family would have to drag me kicking and screaming from the treasure because letting me near it would mean they wouldn’t see me for a long time and I would take forever trying to figure out what to do with any of it!
  3. I wouldn’t be publicizing the fact that I had all of that until I knew exactly what I had!
  4. I probably wouldn’t know where to start or what to part with!

See, I don’t play the “if I won the lottery” game, I play the “what would happen if a windfall of genealogical documents and artifacts came into my possession” game!  How about you? 

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covered now with lines and traces . . .” Yeah, you remember the old song (“Traces”) – how many of us still confine those historical photographs to magnetic, un-archival albums or boxes that aren’t meant for long term storage or in damp or extremely hot conditions?  What about all those documents – birth & death records, old letters, diaries, or other items?  Before your photographs and documents start to fade, yellow, or crumble please do several things to preserve them. 

  1. Scan them and save them to removable storage (disc, flash drive, something) and then save them again.  Keep one removable storage device someplace else like your safety deposit box.  If a fire swept through your home or heaven forbid, another Katrina hits, maybe at least one of your storage devices will survive long after the original documents have been destroyed.
  2. Copy them – the old fashioned way.  Then when you attend family reunions or travel to a Family History Center (FHC) or a NARA (National Archives and Records Administration) location, a library or a distant location where your ancestors lived, you have the copy to take with you in order to compare facts.  Never take Original documents with you when doing research.  Anything can happen between point A and point B.
  3. Transcribe them – if you have been lucky enough to inherit or “find” old letters or diaries, do your best to transcribe – grammatical and spelling errors and all – these gold mines of information.  If your great-grandmother wrote about traveling from the mid-west to California, it’s so much easier to have a transcribed, computerized version up in one window of your computer while you are researching migration routes, towns on their way, etc. then trying to hold open a very delicate and old book while doing your googling.
  4. Scan them, copy them, and transcribe them!  Then make sure the originals are somewhere safe – not in the hot attic or dampy and moldy basement.  Unless your attic is temperature controlled and your basement has been “finished out”, is temperature controlled and the storage container meets all archival and pH requirements for holding papers.  And please don’t mix photographs and newsprint.  The acid and wood fibers (lignin) in the old newspapers could damage your photographs.  And please don’t subject your photographs – especially tintypes or daurraguetypes to harsh sunlight.


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