Solving Tough Genealogy Problems

On this article I take a look at a structured strategy to analysing and fixing these difficult issues that happen in our household historical past analysis. It includes six principal steps, which any genealogist can observe.

Elsewhere in my weblog you can find a four-part case research titled The Girl Who Fell From The Skies, so referred to as as a result of I had a feminine ancestor, Mary Jane Hyland, who appeared on the altar in 1894 to marry my great-great-grandfather, however I might discover no convincing matches for her earlier life. It was as if she had someway fallen from the skies on her wedding ceremony day having by no means beforehand existed. The case research appeared intimately at how I addressed this downside and, ultimately, solved it.

This text goals to put out the methodology I used to unravel that case. In my day job I’m an Operations Supervisor for a big consulting enterprise. I spend my days working with enterprise groups, serving to them to optimise their approaches to fixing issues after which documenting the brand new best-practice strategy. Until a course of is clearly documented then it may possibly’t simply be re-used, improved or, within the worst case, torn up and began once more.

Two swimming pools of candidates

The issue is tips on how to definitively hyperlink one-and-only-one previous candidate with one-and-only-one future candidate.

Backward Wanting Elimination of Candidates
Begin from the recognized particular person (in my case the 1894 Mary Jane Hyland who married John Bowers) and establish all doable earlier candidates. Then remove the candidates one after the other till just one stays. If this candidate suits all the data you recognize then they turn out to be your prime candidate.

Backward trying elimination of candidates

However what if you’re unable to totally remove all bar one candidate or the evaluation throws up surprising free ends? Is {that a} unhealthy factor? In fact not. It simply means that you’re unearthing different proof which may be doubtlessly related to the case. You have to examine these free ends and surprising outcomes. They might change the path of the issue solely, or they could be not more than slight bumps within the street that dissolve away after extra investigation.

Within the case of Mary Jane Hyland, my preliminary candidates had been all eradicated as their father’s identify didn’t match my Mary Jane’s father. It was solely on additional investigation that I discovered that my Mary Jane was lacking from the candidate listing as a result of the census had been mistranscribed on each Discover My Previous and Ancestry. After resolving that downside I used to be left with one and just one backward trying candidate.

5. Show the Case

To show that the prime candidate is the fitting one, it’s essential to reverse the view.

Ahead Wanting Elimination of Candidates
Ranging from the prime candidate, establish all doable future candidates. Then remove the candidates one after the other till just one stays.

Ahead trying elimination of candidates

As soon as full, this leaves simply two candidates, one from the sooner time and place, one from the later time and place:

Efficiently Linked Candidates

That is very important verification of the prime candidate. With out this step you could possibly discover that the particular person you thought you had recognized as your ancestor in actual fact married another person, died or emigrated. This may be a poor consequence after all of your efforts. So I implore you, take the ultimate step to confirm that your candidate is the solely doable candidate.

In Mary Jane’s case, I discovered seven potential future candidates which may have associated to my prime candidate. I used to be capable of remove a few of the candidates through on-line searches. For the ultimate three I needed to resort to buying some civil registration certificates (two marriages and one dying). With the additional info offered on the certificates I used to be capable of remove them, leaving simply the one forward-looking candidate, my great-great-grandmother. This was an costly resolution to the issue, however value it.

6. Shut Case / Redefine the Downside

Earlier than you declare the case closed, look once more at any conflicting proof that you simply discovered throughout your investigation. Evaluation it within the context of your full findings and are available to an trustworthy view about it. Does it fatally undermine the case? Does it partially undermine the case, maybe suggesting further avenues of analysis? Or is it solely explicable within the context of your findings?

Don’t be shy about highlighting conflicting info. Our ancestors had been three dimensional individuals with complicated lives and human frailties. It’s (very) uncommon to search out any ancestor who’s documented in an entirely constant method all through their total life. When you’ve got discovered no conflicting info then you definately may ask your self why? There ought to at all times be some.

If there may be conflicting info which doesn’t undermine your case, what are you able to study from the inconsistencies?

In Mary Jane’s case there have been two key components of inconsistency: her purported 12 months of delivery and her place of origin. It was as a result of these things had been inconsistent that I needed to undertake such an in depth investigation within the first place. I’m glad to say that these had been each fairly simply handled. Her reported age various considerably all through her life and easily appears to have been sample of behaviour – I suppose it was as true within the nineteenth century as it’s right this moment, that you need to by no means ask a girl her age! In spite of everything the additional analysis I used to be capable of present that she had solely ever as soon as claimed to be from Eire – it simply occurred to be the very first piece of proof I discovered about her and it led to me growing “tunnel imaginative and prescient” about her homeland. The fault was mine, not hers! I additionally discovered that each her mother and father had been born in Eire, so which will clarify why she had claimed Irish heritage on that one event. I used to be glad that neither of these things undermined the solidity of the case.

If the conflicting info undermines your case then moderately than closing the case totally, you need to shut this part of the case and outline the brand new downside it’s essential to clear up. Now you’ll be able to cycle again to the beginning of the method and work on this new analysis goal.

Final, however not least, write down your conclusions. You might have gone by means of an in depth and meticulous evaluation course of, it’s vitally essential that you simply (and different, future genealogists) are capable of totally assess the method that you simply went by means of and validate the outcomes. We’ve got all seen on-line analysis that has too little in the way in which of proof and validation. As cautious genealogists, what can we do with unsupported assertions? We ignore them or completely re-investigate them. Don’t let your nicely structured, nicely thought out evaluation be ignored since you didn’t clarify that your conclusions are constructed on intensive analysis and rigorous, repeatable analyses and arguments.

As each step in your loved ones journey ends, it inevitably leads on to the subsequent step. What’s going to that subsequent step be for you? Doc your new analysis goal. This can get you able to kick off the subsequent analysis mission.

For Mary Jane Hyland, it was the tip of the case. My subsequent steps can be to analyze the lives and origins of her mother and father.

Overview Diagram

I want you luck together with your researches. Let me know within the feedback under if any of the concepts on this article had been helpful to you.