Genealogy research

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by Susan1, Mar 13, 2012.

  1. Susan1

    Susan1 Active Member

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    Hi, all you who know all kinds of stuff...............

    Has anyone ever done any genealogy research, like on ancestry.com or anything? Just going to the free Mormon church site, I discovered things they had wrong, so how can you trust things you don't already know.

    And, horror of horrors, they have dead people's names, dates of birth, last address AND SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBERS out there. Great place for identity thieves to check out.

    I'm just disgusted!
     
  2. milanessa

    milanessa engaged to dupa

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    That info is on a lot of genealogy sites on the net. The Social Security Administration used to publish it but that seems to have changed.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2012
  3. victorskid

    victorskid Skating supporter

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    I have been actively involved in family history research for more that 15 years. The increasing availability of information on sites like ancestry.com has helped significantly. Much of that information is digitized official records, such as census, etc. That is much more reliable than a transcription that someone else has contributed, sometimes for reasons other than research.

    Official social security information about those who have died, including their # should not be of concern - their identity shouldn't be available to be stolen if it's already established that they are dead.

    My advice is to start with what you know about family and then to work your way back, using primary records, documenting your sources, and being "flexible" about spelling. That last item is very important when dealing with those who did not/could not write their own names in official records. The spelling of surnames even within a family can vary.
     
  4. smurfy

    smurfy Well-Known Member

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    I have been doing mine for the last few years. I have been using ancestry.com on and off, plus other sites and visits. I am lucky that I live about 1.5 hrs away from where I was born, my parents, and generations before were born there, or it where they arrived from Europe.

    I went to a couple of cemetaries and the folks there are very helpful. I was able to see internment books and obtain additional names and other details that have furthered my research. I just learned recently that the library in that town has all obits, and I contacted them directly. A librarian has taken my list of about 20 obits and will provide me copies, no charged (but donation suggested).

    I still have many other resources, each time I do something, I find some new info, plus some additional sources. Also just search on the web, there are many many sites.

    So far, I have been excited about the knowledge I have gained, but have really been pleasantly suprised how kind and helpful people have been, and the amount of time they have spent on my behalf.

    Also be skeptical. I have some information that may be for a relative or mine, but I am not sure, so I am working on additional research. It is amazing how many folks have the same name, and similar ages, even if the name is not that common. And old records have errors, just on ages alone, can vary by a few years but be for the same person. My favorite mistake, for the 1930 census, my dad's sister named Doris is in the digital system as Davis. And don't even get me started on Catherine/Katherine.... The US census was handwritten by folks that went door to door.
     
  5. DCA

    DCA Member

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    The 1940 census will be released on April 2. The schedules will be released online at http://1940census.archives.gov/. You can get some background and learn what sort of information will be available at the National Archives website.
     
  6. victorskid

    victorskid Skating supporter

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    If you're working with the British census, up until 1911 the information was recopied from work sheets onto a master sheet. You'd be amazed at the errors that can be introduced in the recopying. Fortunately, with the 1911 census the original sheets filled out by a member of the household have been preserved and digitized. [That is the most recent census available there.]

    Another "rule of thumb", put more weight on the veracity of a record compiled as close as possible to the event and preferably with the involvement of the person(s) involved. Records from cemetery headstones are known to be unreliable when the stone was put in place years after the event by a family member relying on memory.

    Beware of any dates that may be arrived at through the process of subtraction - often they are out by a year.
     
  7. barbk

    barbk Well-Known Member

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    Susan -- the Social Security Master Death file is used to *prevent* identity theft, since once a SS# is on it, banks, credit card companies, and EVerify are all supposed to know that it is no longer valid for use.

    In my research, I've found a lot of transcription errors, but to be fair many of my ancestors seemed to have a pretty challenging time with spelling -- and a high degree of flexibility in how they spelled their own names -- not to mention the varying quality of handwriting of enumerators. Luckily, more and more original images are on line. Ancestry also gives you the opportunity to offer a correction to certain parts of their data, particularly with census records. But sometimes the data is genuinely all over the place -- my step-g-grandfather came from Carpathia, and his name is transliterated tremendously differently -- sometimes it looks like a Russian name, sometimes Polish, sometimes Czech, ... I've found it spelled Di..., Dy.., Dz., and Ti.... -- and when you can't even be certain of the second letter (much less the seventh or eighth) it definitely adds to the challenge. But still, fun.
     
  8. Lorac

    Lorac Well-Known Member

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    If you suspect - and have proof - that the Mormon Church has incorrect info let them know and hopefully it can be amended. However remember that what you believe to be true may not be - my brother and I have both done lots of research on our family tree independently and we disagree between ourselves on one particular branch - both being able to document our arguments. The problem lies - as many have pointed out - with the literacy rate, bad spelling and in some case awful handwriting that make some documents close to unreadable - and you have to rely on people then inputting these details into the different databases and this leads to lots of mis-direction. Patience is something that you need in bucket loads.
     
  9. Marilou

    Marilou New Member

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    I am very thrilled to see this thread. I started researching my family history about 3 1/2 years ago and it has been one of the most fulfilling things I have ever done. As others have said, it is VERY important to question EVERYTHING told to you by family members, or that you find on-line, even on Ancestry and Family Search. Wherever possible, use as many sources as are available to support your research.

    My grandmother was convinced her grandmother was born in Ireland, and that she and her grandfather had met on the boat on their way to Canada in the 1860s. She was also convinced that one was Catholic and the other Protestant - makes for a very romantic story. Well it turns out, her grandfather was born in Ireland and definitely an Orangeman, but her grandmother was a Methodist, born in Canada, and was at least a 4th generation North American, with the family moving to Canada from New York State following The Revolution. I have marriage docs, birth registrations, land petitions and census information as support, but my grandmother would never believe it because she had been told something very different as a child - which she had probably just mixed up or misinterpreted.

    There is a lot of misinformation out there, so don't trust anyone else's research unless you know what research techniques they have used. There are lots of "cut and pasters" who just copy other people's trees without ever questioning where the information came from. It can be both a blessing and a curse to live at a time when there is so much information available on-line.

    One of the most beneficial things I did when I first began my research was to attend a "How to Start Researching Your Family History" course. It was 4 classes which reinforced the importance of sourcing, organization and planning and how to beware of the pit falls. It was offered at the local branch of our public library. There are also some excellent genealogical societies which offer workshops, etc that can be very helpful.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2012
  10. znachki

    znachki Active Member

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    :lol: We have a variation of that story in our family Marilou! Just change the date and the destination (US).

    I would definitely recommend this. Libraries, community centers, continuing education, often offer classes for those interested in genealogical research. Some libraries maintain a collection of resources to get you started. And seriously, the librarians love to help with this stuff - it's a treasure hunt, and we love them!
     
  11. Lorac

    Lorac Well-Known Member

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    One other thing to remember is that you may also uncover stuff that might upset you. We discovered at on my maternal side that a great-great-great-grandmother never married yet had 6 children - all with 'unknown' father on their birth certificates - and she was head of household for her family on 2 different census listings so no scarlet woman mark for her :) On my paternal side one set of great-grandparents were living together as if married but they never did. It didn't phase us but a similar thing came up in another persons search on the course I attended and they were really upset and stopped looking anymore. Just accept not everything is going to be peachy and rosy ;)
     
  12. Jenny

    Jenny From the Bloc

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    One thing to think about is how far you want to go with this. Certainly if you want something that forms a historical record that can be shared and passed down, then you'll want to be very accurate and ensure documentation of every key life event - birth, marriage, immigration, children, deaths.

    But you can also just do it for fun. I've spent hours researching online and been able to fill in all kinds of interesting stuff, but I don't have documentation for anything. I just like learning about the people - whether or not I can prove it doesn't matter to me.

    For example, one family legend was that we are descended of Martin Luther - which I soon found was impossible as he had no sons that carried on the name, so the Luther in our family tree could not have been descended from him. However, I was able to piece together a lot of records and trace our lineage to his brother - but I wasn't about to track down every birth certificate to prove it. As far as I'm concerned, mystery solved :)

    I have two uncles who hold much of the family records and memorabilia, so I leave it to them to form the official record - I just give them a few leads from time to time, and enjoy the research and colourful things I've found.
     
  13. Susan1

    Susan1 Active Member

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    Good to know!!!!!! I didn't think of that. I was just picturing someone using my dad's information to claim the house that I now live in or old bank accounts or something. I don't know.

    And to the validity and flexibility of records, what good is it to follow wrong information. Case in point, my dad's birth year was wrong on the 1930 census info. If you can't put in a year of birth, how do you find the right person. Besides which, farther back it gives you a list of names and cities, etc. and asks you if it's the right person. If I knew which one it was, I wouldn't be going to the site. i.e. - Tom Murphy in cities all over the country, when I know it is the only one in Dayton, and then there are places where the only name that comes up is Thom Murphey in Dayton or something. Well, I know that's not him, so where is he? Or, I know my grandfather's name, which has listings all over the country, how do I know which one it is if I don't know what city his name would have been in at the time. How in the world can I go further back if I don't know which one to follow? I guess I'm just dumb! (My mom's dad was one of 11 - he was born in Indiana, grew up in Alabama and moved to Miamisburg, Ohio when he got out of the service.) That is what I know already. I don't see a birth certificate for him. How do I find his parents, and their parents, and their parents......?
     
  14. Susan1

    Susan1 Active Member

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    I was looking at their census records. I do know what year my dad was born in. They had it wrong by a year. And my mom's mom was born on July 4, 1900 - absolutely positively. They had it as 1901. (Her son was born on her 38th birthday!!) But they had her date of death right. Oh, and my dad's place of death was listed in a county in Ohio about 4 counties north of here. Uh, I was there. The hospital about five minutes from where I am sitting right this minute. How could they get that wrong? And that was just in 2008 - not way back in history when people were illiterate or couldn't read something. I have the death certificate and it is correct. p.s. - Impatient is my middle name :) Which brings me to - "what's the point" if all this wrong information is not going to lead me anywhere. If they can't get stuff in 2008 right, or 1930, how in the world could I find anything earlier than that.
     
  15. Susan1

    Susan1 Active Member

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  16. heckles

    heckles Well-Known Member

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    Just remember the first rule of researching your family tree: realize that, outside of your family, and sometimes even within in, people get really bored when you babble about your ancestry.
     
    Sassafras and (deleted member) like this.
  17. Marilou

    Marilou New Member

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    Susan, that is sooooo disappointing about the birth certificate. Depending on the county in Ireland, it can be very difficult to get records replaced because so many have been destroyed by fire, etc.

    About birth years on census records, you will need to give a little latitute. Depending on the time of year a census was taken, or the way the questions were asked, and who actually answered the questions, it is possible for a birthdate to be out by a year and often more. Sometimes a person was asked how old they would be on their "next birthday" and sometimes it was asked "previous birthday." Census takers didn't necessarily ask for the birth year, but the age and the birth year was then calculated. Sometimes it would be the actual subject who answered the questions, but other times it could be neighbour or other family member who may guessing or estimating. Because of these factors, it is not uncommon to find errors and great descrepancies from one census to the next.

    ETA and women have always lied about their age :D You may find a woman, particularly a single women, who only gains 5 years every ten!
     
  18. smurfy

    smurfy Well-Known Member

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    Last edited: Mar 15, 2012
  19. smurfy

    smurfy Well-Known Member

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    Irish research - be careful if you think one is from Cork - that was the port, and many folks have been lead to believe their ancestors were for Cork, but it was their point of departure.

    Initially I was interested in my direct relatives, but am finding by collecting all the siblings and their marriages, helps immensely in confirming whether someone is correct. Especially with names like Murphy, where every one down the line seems to be named Bill, Dennis, Dan and Mary.
     
  20. victorskid

    victorskid Skating supporter

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    Family history research requires a number of things, including:
    • patience
    • flexibility (with respect to spelling, remembering "sounds like"; with respect to ages or dates, especially when calculations may have been involved)
    • willingness to think "outside the box"
    • patience
    • enjoying puzzles/mysteries
    • patience
    • collecting as much information as possible, sometimes for exclusionary purposes
    • willingness to reach out to other researchers

    ... and did I mention patience :)
     
  21. victorskid

    victorskid Skating supporter

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    One other thing - when it comes to family history research, you are never done. Beware of getting involved if you're not prepared for a long-term project :)
     
  22. Lorac

    Lorac Well-Known Member

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    As someone has already stated when looking at census records you need to accept that there are going to be discrepencies of 1 or so year each way around the true birth year due to when the census was taken in the year, when a persons birthdate was and how the question of age was asked. The fact that the 2 birth dates you have noted were one year out is pretty good IMHO. Trust me the further back you go the more leyway you have to give to birth years to find your ancestors on census records. Many women may have lied because they were under age when they got married and as no proof of age was required then it was easier to lie back then. And some people didn't know how old they were - if it was a large working class family birthdays may not have been celebrated. One of my ancestors has ages that really don't tally when going from one census to the next - i.e. she was 24 on one, 37 on the next one and 45 on the following - but we know it is her as the family lived at the same house and the rest if the family tally.

    You sound angry that what you know as solid data is incorrect but on truth all that really sounds off to me is the place of death for your father and if it really irks you then contact them with the correct data. Rememeber much of the data is input by people like you and me so slight descrepencies are always going to happen - and I believe they state that and are always looking for confirmation/correction if it can be documented.

    Patience and yet more patience is required when you start on this path as you are going to come across many incidents when data seems incorrect and can push you in several different directions. It can be frustrating but also fun.
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2012
  23. nerdycool

    nerdycool Well-Known Member

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    Well, it'll help if you know when your grandpa got married, or the name of at least one of his siblings. Who the person lived with is a great help when you have multiple people you're looking at.

    For instance, if you know that one of your grandpa's sisters' name was Ethel, then there is a possibility that she could show up on a census in the same household as your grandpa. And once you positively ID the right person on a census, it'll probably be easy to find his parents, as they'd probably be listed as Head and Wife. Likewise, your grandma should show up in the same household at some point. In both cases, you have a city of residence to go off of.

    As for your mom's dad, since you mention him being in the service (I'm assuming WWI?), try looking to see if he had a WWI enlistment card. They give some good information, including a full birth date, birth place, occupation and address. They even list a "person of contact"... often a wife or parent.
     
  24. Marilou

    Marilou New Member

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    VERY true! My plan was - a 3 month Ancestry subscription and I'd be done :lol::lol:

    But it can be so rewarding, especially when your hard work solves a mystery or when you make contact with relatives from around the world. Through my research, this past summer I was able to meet a great-aunt I didn't know I have, in England. She is my grand-father's 91 year old sister. My grandfather came to Canada in 1924 and he never returned to England. He died when I was a baby, and there was very little contact with his family after his death. It was an incredible experience! In a very special way, I felt like I was connecting with my grandfather too! I was able to see where he lived as a child, the school he went too, where his mother is buried. Words cannot express what an amazing experience it was!

    Not to tell my story, but to share the rewards!
     
  25. Jenny

    Jenny From the Bloc

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    The thing that perplexes me is always the why of it all, particularly when it comes to movement.

    I care less about formal records and dates, but I would love to know why one of my mother's European uncles moved to colonial Africa when he was a teenager - all anyone alive today remembers is that he was some kind of black sheep, but that he remained part of the family, coming back to visit often.

    Another 19th century relative is listed as "moving to NY" when he was a young man, and no one knows why he left home, why he went there (or he might have been passing through on the way somewhere else), and what became of him. I discovered this while I myself was living in NY, and I often wondered if he had built a life there.

    One mystery I was able to solve was that of some sort of break in one branch of the family - literally I had them off on their own in Family TreeMaker, knowing they were relatives but not how to attach them. By piecing together a few vague ideas and anecdotes with the huge bonus of finding the history of a business once owned by my ancestors, I was able to sort out the generations and make a pretty good guess at why there were issues that seemed to last generations. Again, there's no way to know for sure as everyone involved is long dead, but as far as I'm concerned, mystery solved. :)
     
  26. victorskid

    victorskid Skating supporter

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    A couple of the lessons learned when I formally began researching my family history:
    • I should have started much earlier, especially by asking questions of those who were living
    • I should have paid more attention to the family "stories" and, did I mention, should have asked questions
    • as much as the official records can help, there will always be mysteries that cannot be resolved through those sources
    • never assume/presume and keep digging

    A case in point - my paternal grandparents came to Canada from England in 1913 (immediately following their marriage), originally settling in Ontario and then moving to Nova Scotia in 1923. I knew that my great-grandmother and great aunt also came to Canada, settling in Ontario, because my father talked about taking the train from NS to ON to visit them one summer. Eventually I found the passenger lists confirming all of the arrivals in Canada. I presumed that my paternal great-grandfather must have died before his wife & daughter left England and looked for his death in the English records in the preceding years. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that he actually died several years after his wife & daughter left. There doesn't appear to have been a family break-up since his wife's sister was the informant on his death registration. There is no one living who knows anything about this situation and no official records that will answer the questions that arise.
     
  27. Jenny

    Jenny From the Bloc

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    That's interesting victorskid. I think it was quite common for families to split for economic reasons, and possibly political. If the wife and daughter left England in 1913 (if I'm following you correctly), it's possible they were sent away for safety reasons during the war, or that the father/husband had commitments related to the war, or taking care of another family member, or a family business, that caused him to stay behind. He might have intended to join his family after the war, but died before he could.

    It's usually a man that came first, to establish a home and earn money to bring the rest of the family over - that still happens quite commonly today among immigrants to Canada - so I'm also wondering if the wife and daughter tagged along with some male family or community members who travelled together, or were already there. Then the husband/father would have felt safe in sending them, and would follow later when he could.

    I have one really good personal memoir of an ancestor, and you really see how important these relationships could be. Neighbours that marry, in-laws that go into business together, cousins that go to live with relatives, community members who immigrate together. Understanding these relationships - and possibly following up on records of these "known associates" - can often solve a lot of mysteries.
     
  28. ElizabethAnne

    ElizabethAnne Member

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    Many of the websites have background information for each census. I was wondering about some ages listed in the 1841 English census until I found some documentation that said the ages of adults were rounded down to the nearest 5. So someone 29 would show as 25.

    Also it helps to know which census asked the right question. My grandfather's first wife's age didn't make sense in some of the census records. Finally I figured out that if they asked "how old are you" she couldn't do math so the answer varied. But in the Canadian 1901 census they asked "what was your birthdate" and bingo, she knew that spot on and it agreed with the birth record I had found in Scotland. So, when looking in Canada I try to find the 1901 record and work backwards and forward.

    I have also found it pays to look for all the siblings in the census records. When I found one of my great grandmother's brothers, he was living with an Uncle, and that was the link to finding about 3 more generations back.

    I love the research/dectective aspect of this hobby. It can be very satisfying when you find a piece of the puzzle. But very addictive!
     
  29. nerdycool

    nerdycool Well-Known Member

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    This is a good point. I have found many family connections this very way. My maternal grandfather grew up during the Depression. His father died suddenly right as it was starting, leaving behind 5 children and a wife. My great-grandmother was forced to send her eldest 3 children to live with different relatives, and all 3 show up in different households in the 1930 census. And in 2 out of the 3, it filled in branches I had hit a brick wall in. In my case, it was lucky that they all lived in the same small town, so going through all the pages of the census wasn't a huge task. So it's worth it to comb through a good portion of the district's records, as families often lived near each other.
     
  30. victorskid

    victorskid Skating supporter

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    Actually, my great-grandmother and great aunt came to Canada in 1919 (leaving the east end of London), just after the war was over. Despite the fact that my grandfather, grandmother (who had arrived in 1913) and father left Ontario in 1923 and moved to Nova Scotia, they remained in Ontario until my great-grandmother died, then my great aunt returned to England (in 1936).

    I actually met my great aunt once - on my first trip to England in 1967 - but knew none of these things at the time so asked no questions during our all-too-brief visit. :(

    One small clue that I've discovered - my grandfather came to Canada first on his own (as a single man) and worked for a few years in Ontario in the fruit growing/processing industry before returning to marry the "girl he left behind". When he arrived the first time it appears that his father came with him on the ship but was rejected on their arrival in Halifax. Having been rejected once, I presume he would not have tried to come again. But.... why did his wife and daughter come????