Nov 2019

USCIS Fee Hike Proposal

According to Records, Not Revenue, “an ad hoc group of genealogists, historians and records access activists,” U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) recently proposed a 492% increase in fees for historical records held by the USCIS Genealogy Program. Until December 16th only **UPDATE; extended to December 30th**, the Federal Rulemaking Portal is accepting comments from […]
Nov 2019

Highlights from the 2020 Family History Conference Program

I’m not normal; on this I’m clear. But for reasons that remain a mystery, I take an inordinate amount of pleasure from opening up a conference program for the first time, perusing the pages, and marking the presentations that catch my attention (in red ink, no less). Some lectures I mark because they address a […]
Oct 2019

Land Evidences and Geographic Clues: Mapping As a Research Tool

It’s probably our most common research problem: A variety of records contain the same name; do those records refer to one person or to two or more? I’ve referred in the past to examples of solutions that differentiated men of the same name, including “Untangling the 15 Henry Hoffs of York County.”[1] There are instances, […]
Oct 2019

Sheriffs and Other Grantors You Should Know

You’re stuck. You were tracing your ancestor’s land ownership, and everything was going just fine. He bought; he sold; he bought; he sold; he bought again . . . but when and where is the sale of that last tract? It’s clear he didn’t own the land when he wrote his will, so what happened […]
Sep 2019

Non-Population Census Schedules

Every genealogist works with federal census population schedules. Our work with them is so common that we generally don’t even bother to specify that they’re population schedules. They’re just “the census.” Far fewer of us make full use of the federal censuses. We know, at least in theory, that there are other schedules out there, […]
Sep 2019

Cause of Death Decoder

Just as we in the field of genealogy have a friend in Steve Morse and the “One-Step” pages that facilitate effective searches of passenger lists, censuses, vital records, and more, so the scientific, technical, and medical research community have a friend in Wolfbane Cybernetic, a Scotland-based tech firm providing “modern solutions to modern problems.” One […]
Aug 2019

Determining and Expressing Dates

The topic of dates and how to estimate or calculate them has been addressed in NGS Monthly before. In Laura Murphy DeGrazia’s “Calculating Dates and Date Ranges,”[1] qualifying terms like “about” and “calculated” are referred to, but the article appropriately focuses on the actual calculations. Now we revisit the topic, but with a focus on how […]
Aug 2019

Chronologizing As a Research Tool

When I started in genealogy, I thought I was being organized and mindful if I saved a record I discovered to the appropriate folder with an appropriately descriptive file name. But I didn’t abstract those records as I went along. Big mistake. In certain instances, I’m still trying to dig myself out from under a […]
Jul 2019

Some Resources (and a New Roadblock) in African American Research

On 19 June 1865, Major General Gordon Granger and his regiment landed at Galveston, Texas, to announce that the war had ended and the previously enslaved were free. “Wait,” you might think. “Wasn’t that 2½ years after the Emancipation Proclamation took effect?” Yes; yes, it was. Texas had not had a significant enough Union presence […]
Jul 2019

In Defense of the Curious Meander

Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself, (I am large, I contain multitudes.) —Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself,” 51 In May’s issue, I wrote about the importance of starting your research plan with a focused question based on known information.[1] Doing so significantly increases the chances you’ll achieve your research goal as […]