Dec 2015

Considering the Law

As family historians, we use various types of historical records to link generations of our families together. In doing so, we often forget that these records were not created for genealogists. Many were created as a result of laws that were in effect years ago. To complete reasonably exhaustive research, we must consider the laws […]
Nov 2015

A Lesson in Reasonably Exhaustive Research

Genealogists who reconstruct their family histories must meet the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) to ensure that their conclusions are sound. The first element of the GPS is “reasonably exhaustive research—emphasizing original records providing participants’ information—for all evidence that might answer a genealogist’s question about an identity, relationship, event, or situation.”[1] In some instances, researchers may […]
Nov 2015

U.S. Patent Records as a Genealogical Resource

In 1790, the United States Congress passed a bill establishing the Patent Board, an entity responsible for conferring rights to inventors for their inventions, a process known as “issuing patents.” Prior to this time, colonies and states issued some patents, either as private acts or in accordance with state or colony-level laws, until the federal […]
Oct 2015

Working Around the National Personnel Records Center Fire of 1973

Millions of personnel records for members of the U.S. armed forces who served during the twentieth century were destroyed as a result of the 1973 fire at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in Overland, Missouri. These records had not been duplicated or microfilmed, so the loss was tremendous. Many genealogists researching men and women […]
Oct 2015

Using Autosomal DNA To Help Establish Proof

DNA testing has become increasingly popular in the genealogical community over the past few years, and test results are now often used to help establish proof of relationships. In his case study, “Too Few Sources to Solve a Family Mystery? Some Greenfields in Central and Western New York,” which appeared in the June 2015 issue of […]
Sep 2015

Documentation: The Backbone of Genealogical Research

Many beginner genealogists get caught up in chasing their ancestors back in time, and fail to record where they found the information they discovered. Eventually, they realize they should have been doing this all along—perhaps after sifting through papers in search of the source of a specific piece of information. Documentation and source citations are […]
Sep 2015

Don’t Miss the NGSQ Editors’ Corner

Some readers of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly (NGSQ) may be so focused on getting into the newest case studies that they skip over an important piece of NGSQ—the Editors’ Corner. Written each issue by NGSQ co-editors Melinde Lutz Byrne, CG, FASG, and Thomas W. Jones, Ph.D., CG, CGL, FASG, FNGS, the Editors’ Corner offers […]
Jul 2015

Civil War Pension Files: Understanding Pension Laws

From the beginning of the Civil War through the twentieth century, Congress passed many laws that impacted pensions for Civil War Union veterans and their dependents. (For more information about pension files and how to access them, see last month’s NGS Monthly article, “Civil War Union Pension Files: Contents and Access“). Pension laws concerned everything […]
Jul 2015

Techniques for Researching Common-Name Ancestors

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 […]
Jun 2015

DNA As a Genealogical Source

Over the past five years, an increasing number of National Genealogical Society Quarterly (NGSQ) articles have incorporated a new genealogical source: DNA test results. While not necessary to solve every genealogical problem, there are instances when DNA test results supply information that couldn’t be uncovered through traditional research, confirm a conclusion suggested or reached by a paper trail, […]