Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness
Their volunteers have agreed to do a free genealogy research task at least once per month in their local area as an act of kindness. While the volunteers of Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness (RAOGK) have agreed to donate their time for free, you MUST PAY the volunteer for his/her expenses in fulfilling your request (copies, printing fees, postage, film or video tape, parking fees, etc.).
RAOGK is a global volunteer organization. With over 4000 volunteers in the U.S. and many international locations, including Australia, they have helped thousands of researchers. Volunteers take time to do everything from looking up courthouse records to taking pictures of tombstones. All they ask in return is reimbursement for their expenses (never their time) and a thank you.
Do you need help? Are you looking for someone in another location or with particular expertise? Or would you like to volunteer? Visit the website to find out more!
Monday, October 13, 2008
In genealogical terms, collateral means belonging to the same ancestral stock, but not in the same line of descent. In other words, it is any line of descent from one or more of your ancestors through any other than your own direst line.
It differs from clusters, in that clusters looks at the same generation, while collateral lines looks at ancestral lines spanning generations.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Applying Cluster Genealogy to your Research
Consider a husband and wife – You have all the records for the husband, but not for the wife. You may to need to prepare a time-line and look at the major events in their lives. Do they have children? When did the husband die? What happened after the husbanded died? Could the wife have gone to live with other members of the family in another state?
Census records on other family members may reveal the wife as an additional member of the household. Property or probate records may provide a new location to check. Obituaries or death records of children may provide a new name if the wife remarried after the death of her first husband.
Cluster genealogy opens the possibilities of finding additional records by increasing the pool of individuals on whom you are researching.
Always note the source of information that you record or photocopy, and date it too. If the material is from a book, write the name, author, publisher, year of publication, ISBN or ISSN (if it has one), and also the library where you found it (or else photocopy the title page). Occasionally you’ll find that you need to refer to a book again, or go back to great aunt Matilda to clarify something she told you.
When searching for relatives in records, don’t pass over entries that are almost (but not quite) what you’re looking for. For example, if you’re searching for the marriage of John Brown and Mary Jones in 1850, make a note of the marriage of John Brown and Nancy Smith in 1847: this could be a previous marriage in which the wife died shortly after.
Don’t assume modern meanings for terms used to describe relationships. For example, in the 17th century a step-child was often called a “son-in-law” or “daughter-in-law,” and a “cousin” could refer to almost any relative except a sibling or child.
Uses for Cluster Genealogy
Cluster genealogy can be used to -.
1. To break through a "brick wall". Using cluster genealogy, additional evidence is sought in data gathered from the records left by persons in the ancestor's cluster. For example, if the question is one of place of birth, researching the origins of the ancestor’s neighbors can be helpful. Unrelated family groups often migrated together or followed earlier migrations of neighbors or family members.
2. To build a genealogical proof. When constructing a genealogical proof, a genealogist must conduct a reasonably exhaustive search for all information that is or may be pertinent to the identity, relationship, event, or situation in question, including a search of records created by persons in the target ancestor's cluster.
3. To develop context for an ancestor's life. The facts of an ancestor's life are often meaningful only in the context of his cluster. For example, the fact that an ancestor was a Catholic is interesting; the fact that the ancestor and his family were the only Catholics in their community is intriguing.
In order to work with cluster genealogy, you must think beyond the direct lineage. It is important to know the names of all the siblings of your ancestor. In the case of a parent for whom you cannot find anything, then it is the siblings of the child who is your direct link. You then must find all records that may have been created for those individuals throughout their life.
As an example, when searching for the parents of Lucinda Wheeler, it was suspected that they were Ezrin Wheeler, whose wife was Rachel. Rachel's maiden name was not known, and the records so far found on Lucinda were not giving any clues to support this hypothesis about the link from Lucinda to Ezrin and Rachel.
In locating the obituary for Lucinda it was discovered that she had one brother still living at the time of her death. In turning to research the brother, his death certificate gave the name of his father, and also the full name including the maiden name of his mother – information that would not have been found if the focus remained on Lucinda.
Monday, October 6, 2008
During the years of Ellis Island immigration from 1892-1924, there were more than twenty million individual stories that would eventually be shared with family and friends. Records and references to these millions of stories have been made available free of charge at http://www.ellisisland.org/ .
It has frequently been said that “They changed our name at Ellis Island" , but Donna Przecha disputes this and dispels some common myths about name changing at points of immigration in her article. Donna looks at how spelling really changed, - the clerks at Ellis Island didn't write down names. They worked from lists that were created by the shipping companies. What usually happened was the immigrant bought a ticket from an office near his home. So, the seller probably spoke the same language and transcribed the name correctly. In cases where the name was recorded incorrectly, it likely occurred in the old country, not at Ellis Island.
When immigrants arrived at Ellis Island, they were checked against the list. With all the immigrants coming through the facility, many translators were employed so language problems were rare. Name changes were often made by the immigrants themselves for a variety of reasons, that Donna discusses in her article.