Beyond Names, Dates, and Places

The bare essentials that a genealogist must know before starting a research project are name, place, and time period. While those basics may be enough to start searching, they are rarely enough to be able to separate relevant from irrelevant records or to allow genealogists to make sense of the findings. In general, the more a researcher knows about a person under study, the greater the prospect for success. When trying to link people to an earlier generation or another place of residence, researchers should pay close attention to their subjects’ identifiers.

What is an identifier? It could be anything that helps distinguish a person from others with the same name—things such as occupations, titles, physical characteristics, social standing, military service, religion, land ownership, and associates.

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