Today's Tips come from Lisa Lisson from the blog Are You My Cousin?.
Rabbit Trails, Dirty Laundry and Second Looks
Genealogy Tips to Move Forward in Your Research
Genealogy can be a solitary pursuit. We sit behind our computers or in quiet archives silently tracking our ancestors.
But it doesn’t have to be!
Getting together with genealogy friends is just plain fun. Who else understands our excitement over an 1811 tax record?!
Besides the comradery, the tips and skills I learn from my genealogy friends are invaluable.
Today I’m sharing three tips I find many of us (myself included!) sometimes overlook.
1. Avoid the Rabbit Trails - Write Out Your Research Plan.
Before sitting down to research your ancestors, do you know what you are looking for? Specifically?
Are you searching Wake County, NC marriage records of George Harward and Elizabeth Sugg? Are you searching the estate records of George Harward for evidence of his wife’s name?
Are you searching for Harwards in North Carolina?
You will be much more successful in your search if you know specifically what you are looking for and where you have already looked. This will help you stay off those interesting rabbit trails you invariably find in the records.
2. Read the Court Records – Better Than Reality TV!
Court records are frequently not online, so I go after these specifically when I research on-site. Some cases may be too long to read in their entirety on-site, so get a copy to take home. If your ancestors were litigious (as mine seem to have been!), they will air their family’s “dirty laundry” in court.
For example, Marion Talbot of Halifax County, VA along with his siblings sought to sue their father Langley Talbot for land that was their mother’s (Sarah Blanks). At her death, the siblings believed they were entitled to it as their inheritance. (The court agreed.)
That one 70-page court record provided the following information on the Talbot family. This was one brick wall that was obliterated!
· Langley Talbot & Sarah Blanks never married.
· Sarah’s first (and only legal) husband and child from that marriage were named
· Sarah’s death date was given
· Sarah and Langley’s children were named including three previously unknown children who had left the area.
· Clues for Sarah’s maiden name were provided
· Oh yes, and the discovery of insanity in the family.
Have you searched for your ancestors in the court records?
3. Take a Second Look at Previously Researched Databases
This sounds counter intuitive, but let’s think through this genealogy research tip.
Much of our genealogy research is done on the computer. We are so fortunate to be able to have such a plethora of resources online. But, you have heard it before….
Not everything you need to research your ancestors is online. In fact, most is not!
The good news is more and more genealogical records are coming online. Older databases are being updated and new records added. After a year of checking, the above Halifax County court records mentioned above became available online. Since the project of digitizing all of the Halifax County court records is not completed, I continue to check back and search any newly added records.
Periodically, go back to previously researched databases and see what is now online.
Yes, sometimes we need a little help from our genealogy friends! What are your best genealogy tips?
Lisa Lisson is the genealogist and blogger behind Are You My Cousin?. Lisa believes researching your genealogy does not have to be overwhelming. All you need is a solid plan, a genealogy toolbox, and the knowledge to use those tools. Passionate about genealogy research and helping others find resources and tools to confidently research their genealogy, Lisa can be found at LisaLisson.com, Facebook, and Pinterest.
Thanks for the tips, Lisa!
I once found a child on a census that I missed the first time!
What have you discovered when going back over your previous research? We'd love to hear from you!
Together we can find our people.
Thanks so much for stopping by!
Thanks so much for stopping by!