Genealogy Research Tips
1. Research place's of residence
A) When trying to find your ancestor in a particular state or county, check to see if the borders have changed. Example: Parts of Pennsylvania became Virginia, and I discovered that Masonville, New York had been subdivided from Sidney, New York.
B) Search the cemeteries in the counties and the gravestone transcriptions. You can easily do this by googling "cemetery transcriptions (county, state)"
C) Another good place to start is USGenWeb Project for the United States and Genuki for the British Isles.
2. Search Online Books
A) Ancestry.com, Heritage Quest, and AmericanAncestors online have family history and history books. Heritage Quest has a huge collection.
(See "Great Websites" and "Website Reviews" on the home page.)
B) A good tip: If you find the name of a book on genealogy websites, try googling the title of the book. Ninety percent of the time you can read the whole thing online without paying for the site.
C) Don't forget to search the Family History Catalog" by the LDS church on FamilySearch.org. The pages or books can be ordered from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City and delivered to the Family History Library near you.
3. Searching Strategies
A) Want to compare information at the same time from two different web sites? Right click on the bottom toolbar, click "Tile windows vertically." The two sites come up side by side and you can switch back and forth using each site. When finished, right click again and choose "undo tile."
B) Remember to visit websites you have used before at least 3 months later. Updates are added daily on the major websites.
C) When googling an ancestors name, put " " (ie "John Smith") around the name in order to narrow down the search. This shows the web sites where the word John and Smith are together. Also, if you are looking for John Smith in New York but Virginia keeps coming up too, you can put - (ie. -Virginia) in the box and this tells the computer to not include all references to Virginia.
D) Public Libraries/Town Historical Libraries that you can't go visit when they are in a different state or country, you can write to them for information and they can do a look-up for you. Sometimes they will even send you a photo copy for a small fee.
F) Send for the Social Security Applications (RootsWeb has the forms to send out.) Birthdays, parents, and addresses are on the forms people filled out to get their Social Security numbers.
G) When searching the internet databases, search for the most unusual name in the family. If you have common names like Smith or Jones, use the first names that aren't as common. (ie. Comeuppance Smith or Mahula Jones.) Also, with common names add a specifice location to narrow the search.
H.) Besides Social Security Applications, you can easily find the county in which your ancestors were born on the US Town/County Database on Roots Web. There is no longer any excuse of filling out that pedigree completely.
4. Researching the Census
A) Can't find your ancestors name? Misspell the name. The census takers didn't always hear the names right. Have a list of the different ways the name can be spelled and try each spelling.
B) Sometimes the census takers only put the initials of the first names down on the form. Example: J.W. Parker, J. Wade Parker, James W. Parker.
C) Search out all the siblings. A mother or father-in-law could be living with anyone of them. Also, you may find your ancester among them with his name spelled totally wrong.
D) Mortality schedules for the 1850-1880 census show the death's that occurred in the year before the census was taken. These schedules are particularly important in those states where vital records weren't kept in that time period.
E) Pay attention to what your ancestors occupation is because this can help identify him in another census where there could be some confusion.
F) Always check the neighbors. You never know who lives by your ancestors. Sometimes its the whole family.
G) Here is something good to know: If you want to see a census later than 1940, you can submit an address and name to the Census Bureau and they can send you a copy of that one page.
H) Having trouble diciphering the handwriting? Google "1800 (or the date you need) handwriting samples." I found samples of the alphabet from the 1600 to 1800s and it makes it alot easier to read.
I) If you find a census that is to light to read, look at the same census on different sites. Sometimes the original record was in poor shape but it can also be how the census was scanned. I've found some census come out darker.
5. Calculating Birth Dates From Tombstones
a. On some tombstones you'll find the death date, followed by how old they were when
1. John Robins d. October 4, 1835, age 10 yrs 11 months & 4 days.
Translate the death date to 18351004 (year, month, day)
2. Next, take the age at death, 10 yrs 11 months 4 day & translate to 101104
3. Subtract the age from the death date: 18351004 -- 100604, which equals 18249900
4. Subtract from this number the constant 8870 and you have 18241030 or a birth
date of 1824 Oct 30.
b. If the age in months & days is less than the month & days in the date of death then
do as follows:
1. Take date of death: 1835 Sept. 23
2. Age at death: 44 yrs 3 months 6 days
3. Subtract 44 from 1835
4. Subtract 3 from 9
5. Subtract 6 from 23
6. Equals a birthday of 17 June 1791