Apr 2021

Genealogical Puzzle Solved: City Directories

In last month’s issue, I presented a puzzle involving a city directory.[1] It was particularly tough. I won’t pretend otherwise. To put it in New York Times crossword terms, it was definitely a Saturday puzzle, the toughest of the week. If you missed it or forgot some of the details, take a minute to revisit […]
Mar 2021

Filling the Inside Straight

Meet the Wallings. This early American family, migrating from one colony to another, left tracks so few and far between that only an approach from both directions sufficed to “fill the inside straight” and reconstruct the family through a chain of indirect and circumstantial evidence, all pointing in the same direction. Add to the situation […]
Mar 2021

Genealogical Puzzle: City Directories

Who was William Brown (abt. 1763–1827) of New York City? Given information: William Brown married 27 February 1785 at Trinity Church, New York City, Mary Ball.[1] Their children were William, Richard, John, Benjamin Moore, Samuel Provost, Nathaniel Marston, Eliza, James, and Mary.[2] His parents and siblings have yet to be identified. Differentiating men of the […]
Feb 2021

From Enslavement to National Leader
: Richard Allen (1760–1831)

Relatively few people have ever heard of Richard Allen, including myself until I stumbled across part of his story while conducting research in Philadelphia in 2008. The more I found out about him, the more I was stunned that he was not more broadly represented in history books. Discovering his story inspired me to find […]
Feb 2021

The Other Side of DNA Testing

“You see all these ads, so much marketing from the DNA industry, showing that this is a happy, joyous occasion when your results come in, but there’s this other side,” said investigative journalist Samuel Burke in a recent CNN/PBS interview with Christiane Amanpour. “Eleven percent of people who take a DNA test find out that […]
Jan 2021

Assess Thyself

Most of us who have worked in the business world are pretty familiar with self-assessments. They’re generally the first step in an annual performance review with your manager that directly impacts your compensation and position or title for the following year and longer. The fundamental concept is that reflection on the recent past and an […]
Jan 2021

Highlights from the 2021 Family History Conference Program

The Family History Conference this year marks the first conference since the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) merged with NGS, and the slate of events for the conference reflects the combined organization’s purposes. See this month’s first news item (immediately below) to find out more about the events scheduled for the week of 17–21 May. […]
Dec 2020

Alternatives to Onsite Research

If there’s one thing we’ve learned this year, it’s that there are actual, functional alternatives to the normal way of doing things. Libraries and archives are some of our favorite (and most useful) resources, but most have simply not been open and available to researchers since March. Do we just stop our research and wait? […]
Dec 2020

Municipal and County Clerks’ Records Online

Having just sung some of FamilySearch’s praises, I’m now going to pivot to say, “Don’t depend on FamilySearch too much.” I typically begin my online town- or county-level research at FamilySearch and, of course, can generally get a great deal of information there, but it’s not the end-all-be-all. We know to consider archives, libraries, and […]
Nov 2020

Genealogical Fraud

We see errors everyday in the course of our research. There may be mistakes included in a family tree posted to Ancestry or FamilySearch by well-meaning but misinformed researchers. There may be honest mistakes in published transcriptions. There may even be occasional mistakes in our most esteemed journals; ergo the existence of a (generally) annual […]