Genealogy Quick Tips

p4TreeShadow Art Quicktips

Naming Patterns

  1. The terms Junior, Junr., and Jr. may not refer to a family relationship!
  2. Sometimes they denote the younger of two males bearing the same name, but who do not belong to the same nuclear or extended family.
  3. Study every person with the same name in a town, township, or county in the United States and place them in family groups to make sure what the designations Junior, Junr., and Jr.

Nothing Less than Complete Accuracy

  1. After you’ve compiled a family group sheet, pedigree chart, genealogy, or family history, check all exact dates for accuracy and estimated dates to make sure they are reasonable!
  2. For example, a woman with an estimated birthdate of 1825 is said to have married in 1832.
  3. Simple mistakes in recording dates will cause others to question the accuracy and reliability of everything else you’ve researched and written.

What’s Believable

  1. Don’t believe everything you read about your ancestors!
  2. Thousands of genealogies and family histories have been compiled by well-meaning, but unskilled researchers.
  3. Generally, the relationships and conclusions found in those publications are presented without footnotes that state the name of the record or source of the facts they’ve given.
  4. If a genealogy or family history exists for one of your ancestral families, be sure to check original records to make sure the author has presented the facts accurately.
  5. Search birth, marriage, death, military, probate, land, immigration, chruch, and other records for proof.
  6. Apply the same caution with genealogical information you find on the internet and in computerized databases.

Tips on Documenting Research

  1. Document everything!
  2. Train yourself to photocopy or transcribe the title page(s) of a publication or the bibliographic information found on library catalog entries of each record or publication used to document an ancestor.
  3. Any statement made about an ancestor that is not documented cannot be accepted as true by others.
  4. Others who read and accept statements blindly will pass on errors, which results in perpetuating false relationships and pedigrees!
  5. Help stop that endless cycle by footnoting your research with standard bibliographic citations, including the name of the publication, author, publisher, year of publication, and the library where you found the source.
  6. When citing unpublished information, such as microfilm copies of primary records (wills, deeds, death records, etc.), cite the place involved, the name of the record, the dates covered by the record, the type of record and range of dates you searched, and the library and film number of the source.
  7. If your conclusions about relationships are based on circumstantial evidence, state the logic of your conclusions and the sources to support your conclusions in footnote form.
  8. You won’t regret following this professional approach to research!

More on Names

  1. Don’t ignore a record just because the names recorded on a document do not match the spelling used today, especially when an immigrant ancestral family is involved.
  2. Until this century, names were not spelled the same way consistently.
  3. Copy the record and compare it with other information about the family before discarding it as irrelevant.

Census Record Tips

  1. The 1790, 1800, 1810, 1820, 1830, and 1840 censuses do not list the names of everyone living in a household. Only the head of a household is listed.
  2. Watch for duplicate entries!
  3. Make photocopies of a census entry, but make sure you include the top of the page. It contains a full description of the location, date, and page number and questions asked by the enumerator. You’ll need those details to cite your source correctly!
  4. If a name does not appear in a census index, do not conclude the person of interest is not listed in the census! Some printed census indexes contain from 5% – 25% errors and omissions. Always, when practical, do a line-by-line search of the county (it’s not practical to search all of Philadelphia county).

Death Record Quick Tips

  1. Death records are only as accurate as the knowledge of the person providing the information.
  2. If a death record does not include names of parents, spouses, or places of birth, check other records.
  3. Modern death certificates list the social security number of the decedent. Social security applications list birth dates and places, spouses, and parents. Order the application to support other, less reliable documents!
  4. When ordering a death certificate, request a photocopy to get complete information and avoid possible transcription errors.
  5. It’s doubtful that any record, other than a death record, will identify the informant, undertaker, cemetery, residence of the deceased. The informant may be deceased now, but their descendants may have know something about your ancestor.

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