Category Archives: Digging for genealogical gold

High-powered hit-and-run data grabbing technique

You’ve invested a day off and a tank of gas to have a precious four hours at an ancestral county courthouse, state archive, or local library. You want to make the mostof every minute. Here’s my high-powered hit-and-run data grabbing technique to get home with maximum ancestral data in minimum time. Continue reading High-powered hit-and-run data grabbing technique

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Descendants of slaveholders, we have a job to do

Some of you started long ago. I started six months ago. Perhaps some of you will start today. When it comes to the very difficult and incredibly rewarding challenge of documenting America’s enslaved populations, we who descend from slaveholders are the logical ones to do the work.  It makes sense at so many levels. Welcome, GEGs, to the Beyond Kin Project. Continue reading Descendants of slaveholders, we have a job to do

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IGHR 2017: Seats going fast. It’s that good.

IGHR 2017 Registration OpenThe GEG in me emerged in the summer of 2015, when I finally committed a week of my life to the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research. I returned in 2016 to an even better experience. This year I’m registered for Course 3, and we’re relocating to the University of Georgia. Join me in Athens July 23—28 for IGHR 2017 — the best value your genealogical education dollar can buy. Continue reading IGHR 2017: Seats going fast. It’s that good.

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Facing your dread of courthouse research

Darwin Fear Face_Fear of the CourthouseYou hear rumors that courthouses can yield ten times what you’ve learned about your ancestors from online sources. Ten times! But still you don’t go. “I’ll get around to that,” you say to yourself. “Let me just check one more database.” Well, friend, it’s time to overcome your dread. Pack your laptop and hit the road to a place where Wifi rarely goes. I dare you. I double-dog dare you to face your dread of courthouse research. You’ll thank me.

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Parental relationship — the unproven link

Parental relationship: Unproven linkYou proudly display 25 sources citing  life events of your grandfather John Smith, and 20 on his father Robert Smith. You’re a source citer of consummate skill. Everyone can trust your work with so many sources, right? Well, maybe. How many of those sources prove that this particular Robert Smith was your John Smith’s father? It’s a great big gap in our genealogical software — the absence of a parental relationship proof requirement. But we can solve it with a simple custom fact.

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Pre-1850 census drama: a free tool for your sanity

We love the censuses, don’t we?  We need them. Right back to 1850, they’re our bedrock. Earlier than that, however, we dread them. Fear them, maybe. Avoid them, to our peril. While limited in value individually, however, the pre-1850 censuses become gold when compared to each other. But comparing them is a hassle, right? Not any more. I have designed an Excel tool that makes pre-1850 tally-matching a game you actually want to play. Let the Pre-1850 Census Analysis Tool* restore your sanity.

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The helps and hazards of speculative Ancestry tree climbing

Speculative Tree Climbing in Genealogy -- A Kitten Up a Tree

Remember when we  Golden Egg Genealogists (GEGs) were innocent kittens? We could extend a family line back to the Mayflower over a weekend, thanks to those oh-so-helpful “Ancestry Member Trees” on Ancestry.com. Many of us built our early trees on those shaky branches. Here and there we might have speculated on possible family connections, adding them to the tree in an effort to chip away at a brick wall. Helpful! Then we grew into GEGs and started doing genealogy right, swearing we’d go back eventually and clean up that old mess. One day, though, we realized that a new batch of kittens were copying our oh-so-helpful and oh-so-public “Ancestry Member Trees.”  Uh-oh. Continue reading The helps and hazards of speculative Ancestry tree climbing

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Enter at the side door: the Ancestry Card Catalog

Ancestry.com card catalog at the side doorLike many, my early days using Ancestry.com were all about chasing fluttering green leaves. I found sources because my ancestor’s name matched the index of a record collection. I wish I’d known much earlier the wealth of information available in the Ancestry Card Catalog, entered through the side door. It holds sources that are indexed — but not indexed. Bear with me, and I’ll explain. (Newest entry in the Wish I’d Known Series.)

Continue reading Enter at the side door: the Ancestry Card Catalog

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Photo context: treasures in the details

Genealogical riches in photo contextIn a photo of my great-grandparents, I happened to notice on the dresser behind them what looked like a tobacco container. Was I seeing a throwback to childhood pranks? Prince Albert in a can? I scanned the photo at high resolution and zoomed in. It was Prince Albert. I began to wonder what else I might see in the photo context. In one detail after another, my ancestors’ world came into focus. 

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Narrowing birth dates — a free tool does the math for you

Narrowing dates summary imageA census record offers you a moment in time when your ancestor was, say, five years old. That gives you a potential birth date range of 365 days, plus a possible Leap Day. If you use multiple records, however, you can use the overlaps to whittle down that range, getting closer to the real date. Doing this math in your head, unfortunately, presents a headaches. But I have a solution for you: the Date Narrowing Calculator [revised as of 1/6/2017]. A gift for my fellow GEGs.

Continue reading Narrowing birth dates — a free tool does the math for you

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