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  1. #1
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    Genealogy research

    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. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Susan1 View Post
    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!
    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 by milanessa; 03-13-2012 at 11:55 PM.
    3539 and counting.

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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.
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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.

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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.

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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.
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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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Susan1 View Post
    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!
    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.

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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 by Marilou; 03-14-2012 at 06:15 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marilou View Post
    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.
    We have a variation of that story in our family Marilou! Just change the date and the destination (US).

    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.
    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. #11

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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. #12
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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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by barbk View Post
    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.
    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......?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lorac View Post
    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.
    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.

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    [QUOTE=Marilou;3510020]My grandmother was convinced her grandmother was born in Ireland,
    We actually had my dad's grandfather's birth certificate FROM Ireland, which my dad accidentally threw away when he was cleaning out closets after my mom died. Geez. It's not like I can go to Ireland and get another one. Or have them send me birth certificates for all the Murphys from the 1800s!!!!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Susan1 View Post
    Has anyone ever done any genealogy research, like on ancestry.com or anything?
    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.

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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 You may find a woman, particularly a single women, who only gains 5 years every ten!

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    [QUOTE=Susan1;3510310]
    Quote Originally Posted by Marilou View Post
    My grandmother was convinced her grandmother was born in Ireland,
    We actually had my dad's grandfather's birth certificate FROM Ireland, which my dad accidentally threw away when he was cleaning out closets after my mom died. Geez. It's not like I can go to Ireland and get another one. Or have them send me birth certificates for all the Murphys from the 1800s!!!!!!
    My last name is Murphy and I know what you mean. You at least need to know the County, but it is Cork, ha ha for Murphy. The church parish would be ideal. Maybe we are related.
    Last edited by smurfy; 03-15-2012 at 12:13 AM.

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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. #20
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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
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