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Questions tagged [research-methods]

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

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49 votes
12 answers
4k 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 ...
Jeni's user avatar
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36 votes
10 answers
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 ...
Edward's user avatar
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33 votes
10 answers
3k 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 ...
Tom Wetmore's user avatar
  • 3,162
24 votes
9 answers
591 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 ...
Mat's user avatar
  • 1,169
22 votes
10 answers
8k 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 ...
Steven O'Neill's user avatar
21 votes
5 answers
351 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 ...
ACProctor's user avatar
  • 5,897
20 votes
5 answers
499 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 ...
Verbeia's user avatar
  • 2,998
18 votes
3 answers
332 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?
Cecil's user avatar
  • 181
17 votes
1 answer
701 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 ...
user avatar
17 votes
4 answers
448 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?
Joel's user avatar
  • 173
16 votes
8 answers
6k 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?...
GeneJ's user avatar
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16 votes
6 answers
2k 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 ...
Luke_0's user avatar
  • 2,477
16 votes
4 answers
272 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 ...
ACProctor's user avatar
  • 5,897
16 votes
2 answers
882 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 ...
Canadian Girl Scout's user avatar
15 votes
6 answers
5k 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)?
Mat's user avatar
  • 1,169
15 votes
7 answers
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 ...
Cindy Jayakumar's user avatar
15 votes
5 answers
842 views

Determining what records are available for 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 ...
user avatar
15 votes
6 answers
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 ...
Canadian Girl Scout's user avatar
15 votes
2 answers
599 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" ...
GeneJ's user avatar
  • 8,527
15 votes
2 answers
11k 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. ...
Jan Murphy's user avatar
  • 25.6k
14 votes
9 answers
766 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 ...
fbrereto's user avatar
  • 4,966
14 votes
2 answers
954 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 ...
BennyMcBenBen's user avatar
14 votes
4 answers
177 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 ...
Fortiter's user avatar
  • 13.3k
14 votes
2 answers
284 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?
Charles's user avatar
  • 685
14 votes
2 answers
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., ...
user avatar
13 votes
6 answers
127k 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 &...
Daniel's user avatar
  • 257
13 votes
6 answers
826 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 ...
Jan Murphy's user avatar
  • 25.6k
13 votes
5 answers
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 ...
Canadian Girl Scout's user avatar
13 votes
5 answers
181 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 ...
david.tanner's user avatar
13 votes
2 answers
379 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 ...
David Smith's user avatar
12 votes
5 answers
184 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?
Garry's user avatar
  • 611
12 votes
4 answers
209 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 ...
Darren's user avatar
  • 1,122
12 votes
3 answers
243 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 - ...
Jeni's user avatar
  • 2,119
12 votes
3 answers
1k 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, ...
Darren's user avatar
  • 1,122
12 votes
1 answer
599 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 ...
Harry V.'s user avatar
  • 18.9k
11 votes
6 answers
254 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 ...
warren's user avatar
  • 600
11 votes
4 answers
136 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 ...
fbrereto's user avatar
  • 4,966
11 votes
3 answers
227 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 ...
Verbeia's user avatar
  • 2,998
11 votes
2 answers
153 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, ...
BennyMcBenBen's user avatar
11 votes
2 answers
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 ...
lejonet's user avatar
  • 5,447
11 votes
1 answer
451 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 ...
semory's user avatar
  • 111
11 votes
3 answers
631 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/...
Dayana's user avatar
  • 111
10 votes
5 answers
972 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 ...
Duncan's user avatar
  • 3,745
10 votes
5 answers
912 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 ...
bstpierre's user avatar
  • 1,654
10 votes
4 answers
9k 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, ...
Jan Murphy's user avatar
  • 25.6k
10 votes
4 answers
735 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'...
Verbeia's user avatar
  • 2,998
10 votes
4 answers
282 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 ...
fbrereto's user avatar
  • 4,966
10 votes
1 answer
233 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 ...
Jan Murphy's user avatar
  • 25.6k
9 votes
4 answers
140 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 ...
Lennart Regebro's user avatar
9 votes
3 answers
324 views

Using shared cM to determine likelihood of misattributed paternity?

My ancestor Harriet Smith was born in the mid-1850s in England. Her birth certificate shows both of her parents (John Smith and Sarah Johnson). For the purposes of the birth registration, John and ...
Harry V.'s user avatar
  • 18.9k