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, […]
Jun 2015

Civil War Union Pension Files: Contents and Access

Many veterans who served for the Union during the Civil War received federal pensions.[1] These pensions provided support to those who qualified based on disability, service, and old age. In many cases, upon the death of a soldier, his widow or other dependents were able to collect a pension. The process of applying for a […]
May 2015

What Do Genealogists Gain From Reading NGSQ?

We read National Genealogical Society Quarterly (NGSQ) case studies, even though these articles cover families, places, and ethnicities not found in our own ancestral lines. Why spend time reading about someone else’s ancestors when we have so many of our own to research? We need to develop problem-solving skills. One way to do this is […]
May 2015

The Big Picture and the Small Details

As genealogists, we are encouraged to uncover the small details about our ancestors’ lives, as well as look at the bigger picture to learn more about who they were associated with throughout their lifetimes. Why do we examine our research subjects up close with a magnifying glass, but also pull back to get a bird’s-eye-view […]
Apr 2015

Finding and Using Alien Records

Researching immigrant ancestors can be challenging. Family historians often search for naturalization records to learn more about immigrants, but what if they were never naturalized? Alien records, including Alien Registration Forms (AR-2s) and Alien Files (A-Files), can provide a wealth of information, and are sometimes the only records that identify the origins of twentieth-century immigrants.
Apr 2015

The Importance of Genealogical Analysis and Correlation

As genealogists, we connect various pieces of information to draw conclusions—but it isn’t just the information that makes our case. Analysis and correlation are essential parts of the process. Genealogical analysis is when we examine our sources and information piece by piece to understand their context and nature, and to evaluate credibility. Correlation is when […]
Mar 2015

The Proof Is In the Writing

As genealogists, we focus heavily on proof—proof of relationships, identity, and circumstances. To successfully establish proof, we must meet the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS), which requires us to present our evidence in writing. Discussions of proof generally take three forms—proof statements, proof summaries, and proof arguments. They vary in length, depending on the complexity of the […]
Mar 2015

The Great Mix-Up: Sources, Information, Evidence, and Proof

Sources. Information. Evidence. Proof. For many genealogists, these four terms can be baffling. They are often transposed, merged, miscommunicated, or all of the above. Let’s dissect all four and look at them in practice with the case study “Jethro Potter’s Secret: Confusion to Conclusion in Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, and Michigan,” written by Harold Henderson, CG(SM) […]