The Universe and Me

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Genealogy – Indexes We Love to Hate

One of the most frustrating things I run across on genealogy websites is indexes. We are suppose to be so happy that they have listed a huge group of people and that your ancestor is one of them. The only problem is I’m on a website because I don’t have access to that record.

I get furious when I am looking for a marriage record and find it online, only to find when I go to the record it isn’t there but just an index that lists so and so got married. That is great if I am looking for the marriage date, but most of the time I am looking at marriage records to find out who their parents were and to go back another generation with a verified source and not a guess. The exception to this frustration is when I am back in the records of the 1600’s and the actual record is missing but they still have the index. That is when I calm down and look at what just the index can tell me. It will usually tell me the date they married, or the page/number on the original record sheet (if I can magically find that and sometimes you can by ignoring search fields and actually looking at all the records) but it can also tell me people with the same last name that got married around the same time, in the same town, and that can lead me to birth and death records that can verify family relations. It’s all a game with millions of moving parts that you constantly need to shuffle.

The other thing about indexes that bothers me, is when a website claims to have a lot of information, but in actuality they have no records just indexes or even worse just a list of records available for a town or county. Please do not get me started on links that are so old the website has been removed and the people running the website you are on never bother to look at their website and check if all the links they provide are still available.

When a family researcher is looking for free websites or genealogy records running across a list of indexes becomes very discouraging. Yes, I do not like indexes. I scream and holler at my screen all the time and tell it that I don’t need to know their name is in a record I NEED THE RECORD! I can not go to whatever town, county, state or country you are located in. I need the actual record, online, accessible and preferably free.

The purpose of my blog is to help you, so basically, I’m saying we all get frustrated. We all find areas of research that drive us mad. Some simplify and call it a brick wall. I say take a breath and see what else the index might tell you and help you with before you forget about it. Never just look at one site. I resolved my family murder mystery because I refused to let one site give me the only answer. If you only see a list on one site, check Ancestry.com of FamilySearch.org they may have the actual records. When I am researching in another country and only see an index, I look for the actual records and search them to determine if the record and the year I am looking for is actually available and then I page through the hundreds of pages to see if I can find the actual records. Sometimes you do and sometimes you don’t and sometimes I have stumbled upon a missing family member or the death record of a twin who was suppose to have lived for years but died at the age of one.

 

 

 

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Genealogy -Sources -Help You

The number one reason to use sources is time. I just spent two days trying to verify something in my own family tree. I decided to look at going back a generation in a line I rarely work on. Time is a major factor in rarely and also a brick wall.

The first thing I did when picking up the neglected line was to type the name of my ancestor I was certain about, into the internet, yes she came up with the same parents. When I looked further to find her grandparents I discovered that quick internet search was not a match to my family tree as she was married to someone else. Her birth date was the same on two sites but not a third. Her marriage to mystery man number two and her children were during the same time she was married to my relative and had her daughter, also my relative. So I went to the source. Wrong. I never wrote down a source. Not in my program which has a definite source section, not on any scrap of paper I could find. So now I cried, not because I couldn’t find the source, but at the thought that in my official family tree there was an error.

I knew I couldn’t be wrong, I just couldn’t, but now I had to prove I was correct by not only finding the original source but proving it. This took away all my free time over two days. Had I written down the source the first time. I would have saved at least a day and a half. Once I found my original source, it proved absolutely nothing, except that maybe I just copied someone else’s tree without verifying it. This could be because my original source was the online family tree of a far flung relative.  Now I had to prove it.

Proving it required searching every spelling of her last name I could think of and every spelling of her potential parents in a foreign website who’s records at any given time can be in three different languages (French, Latin or Dutch or even local variations of Dutch). Once I found the index I had to search page by page for the actual birth record to prove her parents where her’s and find her marriage record to prove my ancestor was indeed mine and married to the correct man. I now have a printed copy of her records and have noted my source and when I have some time I will go back a generation. Her mother’s mother seems to have 5 different spellings of her last name. Actually 5 different last names because each spelling sends you in a unique direction.

Sources, they save you valuable time, energy, and doubt. It’s a simple thing to write down for yourself.

 


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Genealogy – Should I buy a subscription to..?

I am asked all the time what do I think of Ancestry.com and should they buy a subscription. My answer is always the same it depends upon what you want to do with it. If you think you can sign up and get some leaves and do your family tree in one afternoon. No. Do not buy a subscription to anything. To get your leaf in Ancestry you first must have a family tree and upload or direct input it into Ancestry. The better detailed and the more people in your family tree, the better and more leaves you will receive. If you receive a hint and it has nothing to do with your family tree it will just keep coming back. If it is not your line be sure to click ignore leaf, so Ancestry.com can better use their algorithms to search for your ancestor.

Their are plenty of free ways to search your family tree. Local History sites, Roots Web, just typing the name into a search engine and seeing what is out there, or use the best of the free sites FamilySearch.org. I like free, free makes me happy. What I really hate is a site that misleads you, that says search your ancestors and then does not allow you to read anything.

I use anything and everything I can get my hands on and yes I do have a subscription to Ancestry. When I first bought a subscription I thought it was a waste of money. My family was first generation American on my Father’s side and from Canada on my Mother’s side, a few generations back. Ancestry was all about American ancestors and I did not have any. I bought the subscription anyhow. I looked, I searched, I grumbled and then I bought the worldwide subscription, on the idea that it would help me more than the basic and guess what it did. It could be timing, it could be coincidence, it could be anything, but once I got that worldwide subscription I discovered that my Family was really American after all. That German side of my Mother’s, the ones that came from Canada, seems they were American after all. They arrived in 1710, cleared the frontier of New York Territory, fought Indians, pushed further and further West by the arriving British, fought in the American Revolutionary War (on both sides) and were more exciting than I could imagine.

Ancestry has now upgraded their database and the Worldwide Subscription does not access everything and you need to have An All Access subscription. I am still in the grumbling mode on that one. The additional $90 gets me access to Fold3 and to newspapers. I haven’t yet decided if it’s necessary. Newspapers can be accessed on a number of sites for pay and I haven’t found a large number of ancestor stories that I need to read on a newspaper, but then I keep thinking well maybe there is and it would be easier to find the whole story with out months of searching like I did for the missing family that turned out to be a murder mystery after all.

When starting your family search, always start with free and then decide how much of what you must read is on a pay site. Family Search has easy search engines and if you just use the easy search options, you can miss tons of stuff on their browse/non indexed databases and things you can find my clicking their map and seaching by states or countries. Believe it or not they are even starting to link to a fabulous Belgian website I’ve been using for years. When I am on Family Search I always pay attention to how much information wants me to go to a partner site and how badly I want that information, if it’s enough, then I decide on a subscription to that site.


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Genealogy 101C Sources and why you need them

I am sure as you have been looking at Family Trees online, you have notices sources in footnotes and links. What is a source and why do you need them?

Every professional genealogist will tell you that you must have sources, notes that identify where you took your information from and that verify your information is accurate. You are probably going why should I tell you. Honestly it’s not for anyone else, it’s for you. I was very much the I did all this research I am certainly not going to tell the world where I found it so they can cut me out of the picture, when I started. I then realized that sources were more for me, so I could remember where I saw it, especially if it was a family line that I was slowly working on.

Sources should be the record that verifies your information and allows you to move back a generation. Sources should not be a family tree that you found on the internet. If you copy some information from a website and want to remind yourself what website, then site it as a source, but you should verify the information for yourself.

When you start your research, writing down what you know of yourself, your sibling, your parents and grandparents, your source is yourself. While it may seem silly when thinking of yourself or your siblings, you should verify your information with an actual record. Most likely you have seen your birth certificate, so therefore your source would be your birth certificate. The same would apply for your siblings and parents. On the assumption that your parents where married you would then source their marriage through their marriage record.

Moving back a generation to your parents, you may have a copy of their birth certificates, birth record or baptism records. These would be your source for their birth name and date. You may not have access to these records and wish to pursue them or you may have this information in a family bible or journal and that would become your source.

Depending upon the age of your parents and grandparents, census records become a vital source of information for sibling that you may not have known about. In my records I look for a birth, marriage and death record as well as all census records that may be available for a person. Census records are only currently available until 1940.

I originally did not look for death records and only looked for marriage records if I ran across them. Now while researching on my Canadian and Belgium sides I always look for birth, marriage and death records because they do not all list the parents and sometimes godparents can be found on birth records that led to more family members. The same can be said for witnesses on marriages and who recorded the death of a person. I also discovered when I sent for a copy of an ancestors (who had died as a child) death record that he had died from tuberculosis, something that no one had known, or remembered. Because of this I sent for a great uncle’s death record who seemed to disappear into thin air, he too had died of tuberculosis and so did his wife (a person I did not know about until seeing his death record). Obviously there had been an outbreak in the family as well as the community.

I have notes, family tree sketched out, my sources but what do I do I do with them? How to find a database next in Genelogy 101D

Genealogy -Sources -Help You