Apr 2016

Methodology for Elusive Female Ancestors

Tracing female ancestors can be one of the most difficult challenges for genealogists. Historically, women had fewer legal rights than the men in their lives. As a result, they were often hidden behind the identities of those men, and did not leave much of a paper trail behind. Successful research into elusive female ancestors often […]
Apr 2016

Soldiers’ Home Records: A Valuable Military Resource

Genealogists with military ancestors are faced with the tasks of researching and understanding a variety of complicated records—pension files, regimental histories, service records, payment ledgers, war diaries, and other sources. Soldiers’ home records are another valuable military resource that can provide details about a veteran’s family, service, illnesses, injuries, and life after the war.
Mar 2016

Using Indirect Evidence To Solve Genealogical Problems

When we are faced with challenging research problems, the ability to work with indirect evidence can be a valuable problem-solving skill. Indirect evidence is information that we analyze in the context of our research question and interpret as being relevant, even though it doesn’t directly provide us with an answer. A lack of direct evidence […]
Mar 2016

Records of the Works Progress Administration and Civilian Conservation Corps

In response to the Great Depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt introduced the New Deal, a series of domestic programs focused on relief for the poor and unemployed, economic recovery, and reformation of the nation’s financial system. Two of these programs—the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC)—employed millions of men and women and […]
Feb 2016

A Primer on United States Naturalization Records

Naturalization records can be difficult for genealogists to navigate. Researchers are often left wondering if they’ve searched for the right records in the right places, given the various types of naturalization records and courts that generated them. Genealogists who can grasp the basics of the naturalization process and the records it created will become better […]
Feb 2016

Resolving A Question of Identity in NGSQ

Successful research involves identifying a specific person of interest and developing a focused research question about that person. Genealogical research questions are usually centered on problems of identity, relationship, or circumstance. Most of the case studies published in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly (NGSQ) resolve questions of relationship—for example, identifying the parents of a specific […]
Jan 2016

The Genealogical Proof Standard In Practice

In the field of genealogy, the conclusion to a research question is considered proven when it meets the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS). The GPS consists of five interdependent elements, each of which plays a role in ensuring a conclusion is credible: Reasonably exhaustive research Complete and accurate source citations for each information item Analysis and […]
Jan 2016

The American State Papers and United States Congressional Serial Set

The American State Papers (ASP) and the United States Congressional Serial Set (Serial Set) are multi-volume government publications containing reports and documents that record the activities of the United States Congress. An often-overlooked resource, the ASP and Serial Set can provide genealogists with valuable information to piece together details and context related to their ancestors’ […]
Dec 2015

Navigating the National Archives

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is the agency responsible for maintaining and providing access to historic records created by the federal government. To successfully plan and execute research at NARA facilities, genealogists need a basic understanding of what types of records are held at NARA, and how they are arranged and organized.
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 […]