Identity is a critical concept to understand in genealogy. Too often we assume that a person with the same name living in the same place must be our ancestor. That is a mistake. You’ll hear the phrase “The Names the Same” for this concept. I addressed this topic in 2009 but thought it worthy of repeating. The […]
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Category: Census Records
Never Rely On Just the Census
Ah, the census. The glorious census. It’s such an important document in genealogy, I would venture to say even a foundational document. But its flaws are many. Those who rely on only the census to reconstruct their ancestral families do so at the risk of recreating a family inaccurately. Take for example the case of my ancestor […]
Extracting Every Clue From the Census
Census records can rightfully be called the foundation upon which much of our research builds upon. That begs a question. Have you learned to sift through each census record to extract every little clue about your ancestors and their communities? Many people haven’t. I’m still learning new ways to do this. We know that census […]
Sorting Same-Named People
I had an enslaved ancestor named Rezin Prather. I thought, “What an odd name. I’ll easily be able to find him in the records.” Guess what? It was a very popular name in Montgomery County, Maryland during the 19th century. There were numerous African-American “Rezin Prathers” floating around the county and in nearby Washington, D.C. […]
I Found You, Mary Neal: Analysis Uncover...
We all have those lines that seem to withstand all of our greatest efforts to uncover. My maternal g-grandfather Walter Springer’s line is the one for me. I know the names of his parents: Lou and George Springer. But I have only ever found Lou Springer, widowed, on the 1900 census. That is an *awful* […]
Marriage Records: Look Out for Multiple ...
Marriage records are a foundational record for genealogists. I have discussed many times how finding a female ancestor’s new married name led to breakthroughs. Most of us automatically think of that when we suddenly “lose” woman. What hasn’t come naturally for me yet is anticipating multiple marriages. Maybe two marriages is the maximum my mind […]
Is The Wife Really The Mother Of All Tho...
I once heard a lecturer say that up to 60% of the time, people are researching the wrong woman as mother of the children. This example shows the need to prove the father’s relationship to a child separately from the mother’s relationship to the child. What does that mean? London Matthews Here’s the Freedman’s Bank […]
Analyzing and Correlating Records
We have to continue pushing ourselves to improve our research skills. As beginners, we often look up our family names in search boxes and indexes. We quickly find the “low-hanging” fruit. It’s what the Genealogy Gods use to suck you into this hobby;) The tough stuff comes when the records relevant to your family have […]
The 1880 Donut Hole
I call the twenty-year gulf between the 1880 census and the 1900 census “the donut hole.” I’m not the first and sure won’t be the last to lose relatives on either side of it. A disastrous fire destroyed a large percentage of the 1890 census. People don’t often realize that portions of that 1890 census […]
The Definition of Black: Race and the Ce...
Censuses provide the framework for much of the family history research that we do. Because of this, it is useful to consult the instructions that were given to census enumerators. They are online at the University of Minnesota’s website. The confusing and shifting definitions and “racial” categories are a reminder that race is a fiction […]