Questions tagged [research-methods]

For questions about how to conduct genealogy research and best practices for genealogy research.

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48
votes
12answers
3k views

When documenting location, should current or historical place names be used?

When I am documenting records, do I use the name of a city or country as it is called today or as it was in the year an ancestor was there? Related to: When documenting place names, should I write ...
34
votes
10answers
1k views

What are the key features in genealogical software that will help me future proof my research?

I have been researching my family for about 15 years. I have used Microsoft Access for about 10 years to record my results. Microsoft no longer supports the version of Access I have. I have no need ...
32
votes
10answers
2k views

Transitioning from person-based genealogy to record-based genealogy?

When we start genealogy we know the persons who are closest to us in time so we are comfortable using software where each person record is a unique "conclusion" person. We create a person record for ...
23
votes
9answers
553 views

Benefiting from another's tree without copying and pasting?

Once one gets so far back in their tree, one finds ancestors in common with other researchers. It is all too tempting to collect information by copy and paste information from another researcher's ...
21
votes
10answers
7k views

Organising digital documents for genealogy and family history? [closed]

I have been trying for over 15 years now to come up with a system of folders for my family documents. As I'm sure most of you know it can be difficult. Without making duplicates of each document ...
20
votes
5answers
334 views

What to do with discarded research data?

What to do with discarded research data? Some time ago, I was looking for anything related to the birth, or the family, of a lady who married into my line back in 1834. All I could see was one ...
19
votes
5answers
462 views

How can I establish (and describe) my confidence that the child and adult are the same person?

My two general questions are: At what point can one say that, yes, the adult you have identified as your ancestor is the same person as the child you think might be your ancestor, and that you have ...
18
votes
3answers
311 views

What is the advantage of submitting my research to a GENDEX site?

Does submitting my research to a GENDEX site increase the likelihood of others requesting information from me?
17
votes
1answer
662 views

How can DNA testing aid me in my genealogy research?

My basic understanding of DNA testing is that it can tell you where your ancestors came from. How can just knowing the ethnic breakdown of my ancestors help me? What if I already know where my ...
17
votes
4answers
431 views

What details should I be recording during my research?

I have only recently become interested in my family tree. I am using PAF and am aware of GEDCOM. In addition to the details that PAF and GEDCOM support, what other information should I be recording?
16
votes
8answers
5k views

What is the difference between evidence and information?

What is evidence? I have piles and piles of historical records, old letters, e-mails, all of which provide details about my family. Is all of the information contained in these documents evidence?...
16
votes
6answers
1k views

Determining what old document with Illegible handwriting says?

When looking through handwritten records, I found a document. Some fields are legible and matched information I already knew. However, the name is written illegibly. I cannot read it for the life of ...
16
votes
4answers
255 views

Passing on our data

Everyone here will have thought about the longevity of our data, including related artefacts such as photographs, documents, letters. What is the best approach for preserving this and ensuring that it ...
16
votes
2answers
827 views

Are there checklists or templates made for visiting the Family History Library in Salt Lake City?

I am on my first research trip to Salt Lake City and my first few days in the FHL has been quite a learning experience. I watched the into video and met a number of very friendly, helpful volunteers ...
15
votes
6answers
4k views

How should I deal with conflicting information?

How should I record and report information which conflicts (e.g. differing birth dates for what I believe to be the same person)?
15
votes
7answers
2k views

Tracking family names and migration patterns using GIS?

I posted a question, Using web mapping and geocoding to track genealogical data, over at Geographic Information Systems SE awhile ago, so I was quite excited when I saw the proposal for this site. I ...
15
votes
5answers
675 views

Determining what records are available in a particular locale?

A common question that any researcher asks themselves is, "What records are available?" How can that question be easily answered for a particular locale and time period? I know that I could inspect ...
15
votes
6answers
1k views

How do I plan a research trip?

I intend to visit the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. I know already that they allow Flip-Pal Scanners, so I will bring mine, plus my laptop which contains all of my genealogical ...
15
votes
2answers
548 views

Why do historical and genealogical scholars differ in their approach to classifying sources?

Historical scholars classify sources as "primary" or "secondary." Princeton University, "What is a primary source" Library and Archives Canada, "Toolkit: Defining Primary and Secondary Sources" ...
14
votes
9answers
703 views

Validating place names that no longer exist?

For the places mentioned in my family history I'm looking to make sure I have the native spelling correct. The problem is that many events' places no longer exist. Some places (like Prussia) are not ...
14
votes
2answers
782 views

Correctly identifying individual who goes by multiple names?

This question is general to all inquiries where a person has differing last names in multiple records. In my particular case, I am researching my 3rd great grandfather Simon Zoller (1840-1902) and I ...
14
votes
4answers
166 views

How do you record a person you know existed, but with no (or limited) other details?

The Census of England and Wales 1911 asked for each married woman -- the number of children born alive to this marriage, and the number still living. This information can reveal the existence of ...
14
votes
2answers
277 views

Finding living relative in Victoria, Australia? [duplicate]

I only have their first names, maiden names, and know that they were born in Victoria, Australia. What is a way to locate these relatives?
14
votes
2answers
1k views

Citation guides for UK sources for family history and genealogy

Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills (Mills, Elizabeth Shown. Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace. Revised edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., ...
14
votes
2answers
8k views

Where can I find information on buildings that have been demolished?

I'd appreciate suggestions from anyone who has traced the history of houses, multi-family residences, and commercial buildings, on how to find more information about buildings which no longer exist. ...
13
votes
6answers
121k views

Determining ethnicity according to ancestry

My sister, cousins, and other relatives speculate that my mom's grandmother was Jewish (for various reasons). I've heard people say at times things like, for example, "I'm 50% German" or &...
13
votes
6answers
792 views

Identify people in 20th-century photos once the older relatives are gone?

My husband and I, and our siblings, are now the oldest generation in our families. We have photos which have been discovered or have come down to us when our parents died. I have another friend who ...
13
votes
5answers
3k views

Organizing Research: Should I start a binder system?

In today's day and age, are newbies still starting binder systems? I am reading Unpuzzling Your Past, 4th edition by Emily Anne Croom and it is very good. She advocates binders that organize by ...
13
votes
5answers
167 views

How to do research using local resources remotely?

My great great great grandfather spent some of his life in Houghton, Houghton, Michigan, United States, and I would like to find more records for that area regarding his family. The problem is that I ...
13
votes
2answers
356 views

How can I get all the military records available through NARA (USA) for an individual veteran?

When requesting the military records for an individual veteran from the national archives, I was only sent the discharge summary. How do I know if there are any more records available for the ...
12
votes
5answers
177 views

Which individual in family tree to research first?

I am helping a friend start his family tree. Which individual do I start with to achieve results to keep him interested?
12
votes
4answers
189 views

Recording details of records about 'same name' or unrelated individuals?

I often come across data on what could be a relative, only to find the record belongs to someone who is not related, or was not the person I was looking for. Where do I record this information, so I ...
12
votes
3answers
227 views

What details are needed about ancestor to uncover ship they immigrated to America on?

What basic information do I need to have about my ancestor before I start looking for the ship that he/she came to America on? So that I don't waste a lot of time fruitlessly searching for a ship - ...
12
votes
3answers
960 views

Are there advantages or disadvantages in using more than one genealogy software program for recording purposes?

I will be purchasing a genealogy software package shortly. I have looked into most and while not yet deciding on one, I would like to know if there is any purpose in having more than one such program, ...
12
votes
1answer
532 views

Methods to organize medical genealogy information?

An aspect of genealogy that I have recently become very interested in is medical genealogy. Numerous sources give me information about my medical family history, such as: anecdotal evidence (for ...
11
votes
6answers
205 views

How can I get others excited about an aspect of my family history without gloating?

For example, one of the major battles of the Revolutionary War was fought on my [several-]great-grandfather's farm grounds. Without sounding like I'm gloating when talking about the event, how can I ...
11
votes
4answers
135 views

Retrieving online source about WWII pilots which has vanished?

I recently discovered a source online for WWII pilots has vanished: http://planesandpilotsofww2.totalh.com Some of the information there I found valuable in research. I wanted to try and ...
11
votes
3answers
213 views

Strategy for distinguishing between two possible baptisms, and thus people, parents, etc.?

My partner has an ancestor, Peggy Crossley, probably born around 1750, who married Henry Rawlinson in Burnley, Lancaster (source) in October 1767. I have two candidate baptismal records that seem ...
11
votes
2answers
149 views

How can I track down back issues of a family history newsletter from the 1980's?

When I started asking my parents about family history in 2008, my mother gave me a copy of a "Burbank Family News" newsletter of the Burbank-Burbanck family edited by John R. Burbank in St. Albans, ...
11
votes
2answers
2k views

How to record a stillbirth as a genealogical event?

There are differing legal definitions of the term “stillbirth” in different jurisdictions and also modern registration of these sad events differs from country to country. As a genealogist you ...
11
votes
1answer
439 views

Breaking through brick wall with circumstantial evidence?

Wondering if there are techniques to break through a brick wall with circumstantial evidence rather than hard evidence. Drawing a blank on my 3rd great grandfather in my paternal line. He lived in an ...
11
votes
3answers
616 views

Tracing ancestors in 20th century Romania?

Sanda Yordanova Genova was born in Braila in 1911. Yordan Genov Date of birth: 06/02/1907 Place of birth: Cerna Name of spouse: Maria Todorova Ilieva Nikola Todorov Bonchev Date of birth: 10/09/...
10
votes
5answers
948 views

Finding original surname of adopted child from New York?

My late father-in-law was adopted by his step-father when he was 10. My late grandmother-in-law never talked about her first husband and there is some confusion on the first husband's surname. My ...
10
votes
5answers
789 views

How should I record unsuccessful searches (that may constitute negative evidence)?

How should I record the fact that I have performed a search in a certain dataset and came up empty-handed? As an example: I search for Person X in the New Hampshire Marriages index on Family ...
10
votes
4answers
8k views

Which FHL microfilms are available to view online?

My research subjects are two sisters who lived in College Point, Queens, NY. For the sister who died in 1902, I have the date of death and certificate number from the collection "New York City, ...
10
votes
4answers
652 views

Managing the Multiple Maybes

My question is related to this previous question, but I think I'm looking for a rather different answer because I'm not sure a second software genealogical software package is what I'm looking for. It'...
10
votes
4answers
260 views

How do I deal with alternative spellings to names?

I am trying to find out information for an Arzula Hokum and am running head-first into issues with her name. Her first name sounds like Ursula and her last like some variant of Holcomb(e). How do I ...
10
votes
1answer
203 views

Organizing geographical reference material for English parishes?

Abstract: I prefer to standardize place names in Family Historian to take advantage of modern geo-coding and mapping features, and to record historical place names in research notes. But how do I ...
9
votes
4answers
121 views

Where can I find more information on Danish 16th century priests?

My family is from Gotland, and in my family tree I have two priests who moved in from Denmark(*). Since Gotland nowadays is Swedish and these men are from Denmark I'm stuck, I know nothing about how ...
9
votes
4answers
220 views

What are some strategies for limiting the expenses involved in genealogical research?

This is a community Q&A that came out of the Genealogy.SE Weekly Chat from 30 November 2013 Canadian Girl Scout has previously noted how quickly the expenses can add up when you are serious about ...