How to Pull All the Clues from a Genealogy Source

When you have a behavior of taking a look at a family tree supply, pulling out the truth that you had been searching for, after which transferring on, you is perhaps leaving rather a lot behind. Right here’s how one can pull the entire clues from the family tree sources you’re utilizing.

Generations Cafe Podcast, Episode 62

You may hearken to this episode by clicking the play button beneath. (You too can hear on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, and most different podcast apps.) Size: quarter-hour.

Family tree sources are rather a lot like geese on a lake. Geese look so calm and serene above the water, however there’s actually rather a lot occurring beneath the floor. With our sources, one thing as seemingly simple as an obituary or a census file has rather a lot that’s excellent there on the floor, however there generally is a lot occurring for those who look a little bit bit deeper. Once we take that nearer look, we would discover the solutions that we’ve been searching for. Even after we don’t discover these solutions, this deeper look might help us brainstorm for extra locations that we are able to go search for these solutions.

How Can We Get Extra From Our Family tree Sources?

First take into consideration what you’re utilizing. Are you utilizing the precise file or are you utilizing simply an index? I see lots of people on social media asking about what a file means when all they’re taking a look at is the outcomes web page on Ancestry or FamilySearch quite than clicking by way of to the picture of the particular file. The identical holds true for databases. Are you taking a look at only a database of marriage information that’s been compiled by an area family tree society or are you trying on the precise marriage file? There’s a giant distinction between these two issues.

Perceive the Supply and How It Works

Wanting on the precise file is only one a part of getting extra out of your sources. We have to perceive that supply and what it’s telling us. Why was it created? How does it work with different information?

Take into consideration naturalization information. Within the U.S., the method of turning into a naturalized citizen is a two-part course of. First, the immigrant would a declaration that they meant to develop into naturalized. Then after a interval of years—normally 5 relies on the time interval and the regulation in place— they may make their petition to develop into naturalized. Then that petition would both be accepted or denied.

The data on these numerous papers varies, particularly earlier than 1906, when naturalization varieties turned standardized underneath what was then referred to as the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization. I’m not intending for this episode to be a primer on utilizing naturalization information, nevertheless it’s an instance of how realizing extra in regards to the supply that you just’re utilizing can lead you to different information. In the event you discover your ancestor’s declaration of intent, there might be a petition to naturalize in a while. And vice versa: When you have discovered that petition, there ought to be an earlier declaration sooner or later.

One other sort of supply that has rather a lot occurring is probate. In the event you’ve used the probate collections on Ancestry or FamilySearch, you might need come throughout a file in one thing referred to as a docket. It can have the particular person’s title and a reference to a different quantity and web page quantity. You can simply connect that docket to your ancestor’s profile and transfer on, however that docket isn’t meant to be a standalone file.

A court docket docket is actually a desk of contents for a specific court docket case. It can reference the entire volumes the place part of the proceedings for that exact case occurred. Within the case of probate, it would reference the desire guide, the place the stock was recorded, the ultimate distribution of the property, or maybe when guardians are appointed to the minor heirs. That’s the stuff that you just actually wish to get into. That’s the place the meat of the file is going on. Stopping with simply the docket can be the identical as trying on the desk of contents of a guide, however then by no means turning to any of the issues listed in that desk of contents. Understanding what a docket is—and isn’t—will provide help to use that file extra absolutely.

It doesn’t must be one thing complicated like naturalizations or probate information the place we are able to use a greater understanding of the supply. Even one thing as seemingly simple because the census usually has greater than meets the attention. (Right here’s the place that analogy of geese on a lake actually applies!) Take into consideration the federal census: a listing of names and a few details about the individuals within the family. There’s a variety of info there, nevertheless it won’t be all the things.

For instance, within the 1850 by way of 1880 censuses, the Census Bureau requested different questions that aren’t on the “common” a part of the census. That a part of the census that we use on a regular basis is technically only one schedule of the census, referred to as the inhabitants schedule. These different questions within the 1850 by way of 1880 censuses are on separate schedules. For these years there are schedules for agriculture, trade/producers, even mortality. (Sure. There are census schedules that file details about lifeless individuals.) In 1880, there’s a particular schedule for many who are famous within the inhabitants census, the inhabitants schedule as being blind, deaf, or infirm, and that schedule can have tons of helpful info.

Pulling Extra Clues From a Particular Report

After you have a superb understanding a few supply, what about that exact file that you just’re utilizing? Have you ever recognized the entire individuals and locations talked about within the file?  Who’re they? how do they slot in to your ancestor’s FAN membership (the buddies, the associates, the neighbors)? How do these locations match into your ancestor’s timeline?

One thing that’s normally neglected when attempting to tug extra clues from a file are the verbs. Verbs are phrases that point out your ancestor doing one thing or being one thing. Recognizing the verbs in a file might help you brainstorm different information to go have a look at. When an individual does one thing or is one thing, that’s when information may be created.

Take into consideration one thing as mundane because the 1850 federal census. My ancestor Henry Kingery was enumerated along with his household in Windsor Township, Lawrence County, Ohio, in 1850.

1850 census showing Henry Kingery and family in Lawrence County, Ohio
1850 census, Henry Kingery and household, Windsor Township, Lawrence County, Ohio. Picture courtesy FamilySearch. (Sure, it says “Ringers.” It truly is Kingery. Sure, it was enjoyable looking for this household.)

Pulling out the verbs in Henry’s file:

  • He was 44 years previous.
  • He was a farmer.
  • He owned $600 price of actual property.
  • He was born in Virginia.

All very good items of knowledge, however let’s have a look at it extra intently. He was 44 years previous. Was is a verb. Put that along with the assertion, “He was born in Virginia.” Now we may restate that as, “He was born in Virginia round 1806.” That’s too early for civil delivery information in Virginia, nevertheless it’s one thing to remember for later. His age additionally tells us he’s sufficiently old to be on voter lists and he’s doubtless paying private property tax. So there are a few different information that we may have a look at for Henry.

He was a farmer. There’s the 1850 agricultural schedule, which particulars livestock and crops that farmers had been elevating. I may examine discovering that schedule and study extra about what Henry was doing as a farmer. What did he elevate? I may additionally attempt to discover newspapers and see in the event that they ever report the worth for crops.

There’s additionally that assertion on the 1850 census that he owned $600 price of actual property. Bingo! Land information. He owns that land. How did he get it? How did he do away with it later? He also needs to be exhibiting up on the true property tax lists. The assertion that he owned $600 price of actual property opens up all types of analysis alternatives.

Once we take the time to get to know the sources we’re utilizing—understanding their function and the way they slot in with different information—taking have a look at the individuals and locations which can be talked about, and actually pondering the details which can be offered (with the assistance of the verbs), that’s after we can get essentially the most out of the sources that we’re utilizing.

Want to take your research even further? Check out my upcoming WANDER Workshop!

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