Techniques for Researching Common-Name Ancestors

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We often struggle with solving problems and making connections as we research our ancestors with common surnames—for example, the Johnsons, Smiths, and Joneses in our family trees. Our struggles multiply when these men and women also have common forenames. The primary challenge we face when researching these individuals is telling them apart from others with the same names. Unlike some researchers who face a lack of records, we are sometimes faced with the opposite problem—too many possibilities and too many records that pertain to people who are difficult to tell apart.

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