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Old 10-13-2013, 11:12 PM
 
Location: 2016 Clown Car...fka: Wisconsin
738 posts, read 770,446 times
Reputation: 1180

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My top 10:

1. I can't say this often enough: When you find something, PRINT IT!!! Paper is cheap compared to the hours trying to "re-find" a website at some later date...(if you can remember the name of the website!)

2. Just because you locate an individual in close proximity to your ancestor, but you can't figure out if or how they're related, DON'T just disregard the information. Print it out and put it into a separate folder for later review. I keep a folder for each surname and have a "contents" page that lists the name of the mystery person along with a location and brief description of why I kept it.

3. Sometimes, when you can't get in the 'front door' you need to climb in a window. If an ancestor 'disappears', use siblings, parents, children even neighbors names to find them.

4. Names mean little. Aside from obvious variations in surnames, I have found ancestors using their given names in one census, middle names in another census and 'nicknames' in another. It's maddening, but it happens.

5. Continually go over your 'unfinished' data. New data is being posted online almost daily. Just this week, I located an immigration record for an ancestor that even the INS couldn't locate via formal request which also included the name of a child I didn't know existed as well as a marriage record that included the death date for a first wife. Yeah...that one was a trifecta for me ;0

6. Use other sources if you can't obtain regular vital records. Because Indiana has 'stricter' rules for releasing death certificates, I used an obit to locate the name of a funeral home and then sent them an email inquiring about an ancestor. Sometimes I get no reply, but this particular funeral home called me personally and asked if I wanted the file in hard copy via mail or PDF via email. I sent them a formal thank you for their efforts.

7. Small town historical/genealogical societies are a wealth of information. They usually charge small fees and will go the extra mile to find information. If they are able to assist me, I not only pay the fee, but I always include an extra "donation". For me, that money is well spent.

8. Trust your gut. Even when there's no verifiable information available, but I "feel" the connection, I go with it. 8 times out of 10, I'm correct and have learned to 'gut-check' anything that seems 'iffy'.

9. Google. By using Google, I have been able to locate online trees NOT posted on Ancestry, found articles in newspaper archives and was able to track down 2 photos of my Vaudevillian ancestors that were being kept in the Hargrett Library in a private collection. I was able to contact them, send a formal request, get permission and now I actually have publicity photos of my most famous relatives.

10. Connect and share. I do it with regularity and sometimes it's been great and other times...well... Regardless, there is usually some little piece of information that can be gleaned from the connection.

RVcook
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Old 10-14-2013, 01:03 AM
 
Location: Georgia, USA
21,499 posts, read 26,102,510 times
Reputation: 26471
Quote:
Originally Posted by RVcook View Post
My top 10:

1. I can't say this often enough: When you find something, PRINT IT!!! Paper is cheap compared to the hours trying to "re-find" a website at some later date...(if you can remember the name of the website!)
Websites also disappear. They get taken down or their owners, unfortunately, pass on.

I often add the website address to the note for the relevant person, though.

Quote:
2. Just because you locate an individual in close proximity to your ancestor, but you can't figure out if or how they're related, DON'T just disregard the information. Print it out and put it into a separate folder for later review. I keep a folder for each surname and have a "contents" page that lists the name of the mystery person along with a location and brief description of why I kept it.
I broke down a brick wall when I finally realized that a woman's sister-in-law might also be her sister.

Quote:
3. Sometimes, when you can't get in the 'front door' you need to climb in a window. If an ancestor 'disappears', use siblings, parents, children even neighbors names to find them.
And use every scrap of available info. The Federal death schedules, for example, tell you the family that the deceased person lived with with. This helped me show that a person who died was not my ancestor but her cousin with the same name.

Quote:
4. Names mean little. Aside from obvious variations in surnames, I have found ancestors using their given names in one census, middle names in another census and 'nicknames' in another. It's maddening, but it happens.
Oh, my, yes!

Quote:
5. Continually go over your 'unfinished' data. New data is being posted online almost daily. Just this week, I located an immigration record for an ancestor that even the INS couldn't locate via formal request which also included the name of a child I didn't know existed as well as a marriage record that included the death date for a first wife. Yeah...that one was a trifecta for me ;0
An obituary on Find A Grave was a gold mine for DH's tree recently.

Quote:
6. Use other sources if you can't obtain regular vital records. Because Indiana has 'stricter' rules for releasing death certificates, I used an obit to locate the name of a funeral home and then sent them an email inquiring about an ancestor. Sometimes I get no reply, but this particular funeral home called me personally and asked if I wanted the file in hard copy via mail or PDF via email. I sent them a formal thank you for their efforts.
I have not used funeral homes as a source. I'll have to keep that in mind.

Quote:
7. Small town historical/genealogical societies are a wealth of information. They usually charge small fees and will go the extra mile to find information. If they are able to assist me, I not only pay the fee, but I always include an extra "donation". For me, that money is well spent.
And add libraries to the donation list.

Quote:
8. Trust your gut. Even when there's no verifiable information available, but I "feel" the connection, I go with it. 8 times out of 10, I'm correct and have learned to 'gut-check' anything that seems 'iffy'.
Well, I do have some "gut-check" items, but they haven't panned out yet.

Quote:
9. Google. By using Google, I have been able to locate online trees NOT posted on Ancestry, found articles in newspaper archives and was able to track down 2 photos of my Vaudevillian ancestors that were being kept in the Hargrett Library in a private collection. I was able to contact them, send a formal request, get permission and now I actually have publicity photos of my most famous relatives.
I envy people who have photos. I do not have many, just a few from the generosity of other researchers.

And don't forget to use name variations when you search. We sometimes get used to Ancestry.com doing it for us. I found Civil War info on an ancestor that showed up only when I used his first and middle initials, not either of the names.

Quote:
10. Connect and share. I do it with regularity and sometimes it's been great and other times...well... Regardless, there is usually some little piece of information that can be gleaned from the connection.

RVcook
Even negative information helps. At least you know which roads not to take.

And thank you for sharing.
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Old 10-14-2013, 04:40 AM
 
Location: Colorado (PA at heart)
8,222 posts, read 12,809,728 times
Reputation: 10451
Quote:
Originally Posted by RVcook View Post
My top 10:

1. I can't say this often enough: When you find something, PRINT IT!!! Paper is cheap compared to the hours trying to "re-find" a website at some later date...(if you can remember the name of the website!)
If I printed out every record I found, I'd probably be able to fill an entire filing cabinet. But I've never needed to re-find anything because I simply attach everything to my digital tree. Every record relating to my tree can be found in one place with no need to print anything out. My tree is backed up on ACOM's servers and on my PC so there's no risk that I'll lose it all.

Quote:
2. Just because you locate an individual in close proximity to your ancestor, but you can't figure out if or how they're related, DON'T just disregard the information. Print it out and put it into a separate folder for later review. I keep a folder for each surname and have a "contents" page that lists the name of the mystery person along with a location and brief description of why I kept it.
That's a good tip, I do this as well, but I just save the record either in my ACOM shoebox or in folders on my PC.
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Old 10-14-2013, 08:32 AM
 
Location: 2016 Clown Car...fka: Wisconsin
738 posts, read 770,446 times
Reputation: 1180
Quote:
Originally Posted by suzy_q2010 View Post
Websites also disappear. They get taken down or their owners, unfortunately, pass on.

I often add the website address to the note for the relevant person, though.
Absolutely to both your points.

Quote:
Originally Posted by suzy_q2010 View Post
An obituary on Find A Grave was a gold mine for DH's tree recently.
I love Find A Grave. It's one of my regular resources.

Quote:
Originally Posted by suzy_q2010 View Post
And add libraries to the donation list.
I have to admit, I have had limited success with local libraries. However, I have had great success with larger libraries in major cities. The Newberry Library in Chicago is a fabulous resource.

Quote:
Originally Posted by suzy_q2010 View Post
Well, I do have some "gut-check" items, but they haven't panned out yet.
Don't be discouraged. It's taken me years to "hone" my gut...

Quote:
Originally Posted by suzy_q2010 View Post
I envy people who have photos. I do not have many, just a few from the generosity of other researchers.
Same here. Which is why I was so tickled to find the ones I mentioned. And I have to say, it was just weird to see the family resemblance...

Quote:
Originally Posted by suzy_q2010 View Post
And don't forget to use name variations when you search. We sometimes get used to Ancestry.com doing it for us. I found Civil War info on an ancestor that showed up only when I used his first and middle initials, not either of the names.
Ughh!!! The 'first initial only' one has gotten me more times than I want to remember. But sometimes, name variations become even more challenging...especially if you don't know who the parents are. Here's an example:

I thought it was odd that with as many trees as are published, NOBODY knew who the parents of David Eugene Jacobs were so I started digging.
First, I located "Eugene Jacobs" in Macoupin Co., IL living with Walter and Dorothy Smith in 1930. He is listed as nephew, and born in Missouri. This would mean that he would have had to be either the son of one of Walter's sisters OR the son of one of Dorothy's sisters or brothers.
Second, I located a "Ugene Jacobs" in Macoupin Co., IL living with Walter and Dorothy Sweet in 1940. Hmmmmm...so was the name Smith or Sweet? Back-checking confirmed that it was Sweet.
Third, I attempted to locate a "Eugene Jacobs" in Missouri that was born in approx. the same year in the 1920 census. I was unsuccessful until I tried a variation on the name using "Uge* Jacob*", born Missouri 1908 +/- 5 years. I finally located him living with Ory D. and Virginia Jacobs.
Fourth, on to Ancestry Family Trees to find Ory Jacobs. I located a tree with an entry for Ory Durett Jacobs which posted the marriage of Ory Jacobs to Virginia SWEET (who was Walter Sweet's sister). Further information included a death date for Ory D. Jacobs in Macoupin Co., IL, where I had started my research.

Quote:
Originally Posted by suzy_q2010 View Post
Even negative information helps. At least you know which roads not to take.
I think this is a really important point and one that has saved me hundreds of hours of useless research.

Quote:
Originally Posted by suzy_q2010 View Post
And thank you for sharing.
And thank you for adding

Quote:
Originally Posted by PA2UK View Post
If I printed out every record I found, I'd probably be able to fill an entire filing cabinet. But I've never needed to re-find anything because I simply attach everything to my digital tree. Every record relating to my tree can be found in one place with no need to print anything out. My tree is backed up on ACOM's servers and on my PC so there's no risk that I'll lose it all.
I agree about the filing cabinet...shakes head sheepishly... But after just recently acquiring a scanner, I now must make time to scan everything (in that filing cabinet) and get it all attached to my trees. A daunting task I must say as I have Y-E-A-R-S of data to do...sigh...

Quote:
Originally Posted by PA2UK View Post
That's a good tip, I do this as well, but I just save the record either in my ACOM shoebox or in folders on my PC.
May I ask, do you enter your data directly into your online tree or use a program on your own computer? I find the online tree very bulky so I just upload updated copies of my tree from my laptop with regularity and delete the older trees. Unfortunately, doing it this way does not allow me to keep anything "attached"...obviously. Just curious.

RVcook
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Old 10-14-2013, 10:01 AM
 
Location: Colorado (PA at heart)
8,222 posts, read 12,809,728 times
Reputation: 10451
Quote:
Originally Posted by RVcook View Post
I agree about the filing cabinet...shakes head sheepishly... But after just recently acquiring a scanner, I now must make time to scan everything (in that filing cabinet) and get it all attached to my trees. A daunting task I must say as I have Y-E-A-R-S of data to do...sigh...
For bulk scanning, I would recommend going to someplace that has a copier for public use - you just pile all the papers into the tray and it sucks each one through the scanner individually and saves them to your pen drive. Much faster.

Quote:
May I ask, do you enter your data directly into your online tree or use a program on your own computer? I find the online tree very bulky so I just upload updated copies of my tree from my laptop with regularity and delete the older trees. Unfortunately, doing it this way does not allow me to keep anything "attached"...obviously. Just curious.
My online tree is synced with FTM on my PC so I can add data on either one and it will be added to the other automatically. So I use both to add data and everything remains attached and synced, images and all.
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Old 10-14-2013, 10:15 AM
 
Location: 2016 Clown Car...fka: Wisconsin
738 posts, read 770,446 times
Reputation: 1180
Quote:
Originally Posted by PA2UK View Post
For bulk scanning, I would recommend going to someplace that has a copier for public use - you just pile all the papers into the tray and it sucks each one through the scanner individually and saves them to your pen drive. Much faster.

My online tree is synced with FTM on my PC so I can add data on either one and it will be added to the other automatically. So I use both to add data and everything remains attached and synced, images and all.
Thanks for the scanning suggestion. I will definitely look into that.

Your explanation about FTM makes perfect sense. Now I understand why it works. I've only been using the old PAF and really like its simplicity, but the syncing feature of FTM would really be nice given how my tree (and the documentation) has grown over the years. Up until now, I've just never seen the need to purchase the program, but since I do not believe there is a 'sync' feature in PAF, I may have to reconsider my original position.

For people looking to simplify the attaching of documents and uploading of trees, this should be a tip also! Thanks. I will have to look into it.

Edited to Add: I just finished reading reviews of FTM 2014 and from most experienced users, there are major problems. Which version do you have?

RVcook

Last edited by RVcook; 10-14-2013 at 11:10 AM..
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Old 10-14-2013, 12:36 PM
 
Location: Colorado (PA at heart)
8,222 posts, read 12,809,728 times
Reputation: 10451
Quote:
Originally Posted by RVcook View Post
Thanks for the scanning suggestion. I will definitely look into that.

Your explanation about FTM makes perfect sense. Now I understand why it works. I've only been using the old PAF and really like its simplicity, but the syncing feature of FTM would really be nice given how my tree (and the documentation) has grown over the years. Up until now, I've just never seen the need to purchase the program, but since I do not believe there is a 'sync' feature in PAF, I may have to reconsider my original position.

For people looking to simplify the attaching of documents and uploading of trees, this should be a tip also! Thanks. I will have to look into it.

Edited to Add: I just finished reading reviews of FTM 2014 and from most experienced users, there are major problems. Which version do you have?

RVcook
I have FTM 2012, there were complaints about it too but I didn't experience any problems. Sometimes the internet can make a problem occurring with only a minority of cases seem like a much bigger problem than it is.
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Old 10-14-2013, 12:44 PM
 
Location: 2016 Clown Car...fka: Wisconsin
738 posts, read 770,446 times
Reputation: 1180
Quote:
Originally Posted by PA2UK View Post
I have FTM 2012, there were complaints about it too but I didn't experience any problems. Sometimes the internet can make a problem occurring with only a minority of cases seem like a much bigger problem than it is.
Yep. Aint that the truth!!!

Thanks again.

RVcook
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Old 10-14-2013, 01:09 PM
 
Location: Canada
3,676 posts, read 2,484,076 times
Reputation: 4735
Quote:
Originally Posted by PA2UK View Post
I have FTM 2012, there were complaints about it too but I didn't experience any problems. Sometimes the internet can make a problem occurring with only a minority of cases seem like a much bigger problem than it is.
There appears to be a major synch problem with FTM 2014 which I think was only released last month. I suspect that's the reason that Ancestry.ca (Canadian site) is still only selling FTM 2012.
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Old 10-14-2013, 01:22 PM
 
Location: Pacific NW
6,415 posts, read 10,037,563 times
Reputation: 5779
Quote:
Originally Posted by RVcook View Post
My top 10:

1. I can't say this often enough: When you find something, PRINT IT!!! Paper is cheap compared to the hours trying to "re-find" a website at some later date...(if you can remember the name of the website!)
Disappearing websites? Try the Wayback Machine, which archives the internet. They may have the site in it's former incantation.
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