Nov 2020

History Hub

I was about to write an opening sentence along the lines of “The National Archives are a national treasure.” But then I thought How stupid. Of course it’s a national treasure. Everybody knows that. It’s the kind of statement that’s so painfully apparent it’s not worth putting into print, like announcing that “The universe is […]
Oct 2020

Looking in the Right Place: Some Concepts

It doesn’t make sense. They should be there. They’re supposed to be there. What’s the problem? Why can’t I find them? More often than not, the answer to that line of questioning is pretty simple: You’re not looking in the right place. Fine. Great. I’m looking in the wrong place. How, exactly, do you propose […]
Oct 2020

Looking in the Right Place: A Case Study

In researching the English ancestry of Esther (Smart) Guise, 1823–1872, Arlene V. Jennings, CG, was initially directed to the wrong place. The 1923 Kansas death certificate of Esther’s daughter Marilla (Guise) Bush suggested Esther was born in London, but she was not. Instead, it was an unsourced family tree online that first suggested to Jennings […]
Sep 2020

Where and How to Find Records of Defunct Funeral Homes

Searching for vital records is usually the first step we take in researching an ancestor. For death records in particular, we often search first for death certificates, then for religious burial records, obituaries, cemetery records, or gravestones. Having found one or more of those records, we generally stop there. Even more experienced researchers often forget […]
Sep 2020

Analyzing an Unsourced Image of an Unsourced Manuscript

I’ve referred briefly to one of my great-great-grandfathers before in NGS Monthly: Addison Harris Day of Toomsboro, Wilkinson County, Georgia. I was writing about ways to hear our ancestors’ voices and included an 1889 letter to the editor he wrote.[1] This time I want to revisit Addison and examine a record I’ve come across about […]
Jun 2020

Inconvenient Facts

As genealogists, we strive to gather any and all information we can that might have a bearing on the research question at hand. Sometimes that information includes conflicting data that must then be resolved. And sometimes that information includes evidence that, frankly, we’d rather not see or be aware of. While it may be tempting […]
Jun 2020

The Zeitgeist and Serendipity

In light of current events and the preceding article (“Inconvenient Facts”), the most recent issue of NGSQ is of particular interest. It’s also particularly timely, an almost impossible achievement for any journal with a production schedule that stretches over many months of planning, developing, editing, and finalizing. LaBrenda Garrett-Nelson, JD, LLM, CG, CGL, authored the […]
May 2020

How to Find Passenger Lists for Databases without Images

Sometimes we run into a simple problem. We find an index with data that does not link to an image that we can examine. As basic as that problem may be, surmounting it can be a significant challenge. Let’s take an example using passenger lists. Read the given information below and think about how you […]
May 2020

Moving Beyond Published Abstracts

For years, genealogists have depended on published abstracts of records to gather data they would otherwise have difficulty accessing. As we get greater access to digitized original records, however, the weaknesses of abstracts are becoming more apparent. Take, for example, the first entry in Will Records of Montgomery County, Kentucky, 1796–1821: Will Book A Page […]
Apr 2020

Runaway Advertisements

In colonial America’s earliest years, those with runaway slaves, indentured servants, apprentices, military deserters, escaped prisoners, husbands, wives, or children had to rely on broadsides or word of mouth to advertise a reward for their return. Unsurprisingly, few such broadsides (and no words of mouth) survive. With the advent of colonial newspapers in the early […]