Courthouse Genealogy Research 101

The first time I visited a courthouse for research, I had no idea what to expect and prior to arrival was quite intimidated. I quickly found that finding your way around is usually very straightforward and using the records is fairly consistent from locality to locality. Since some of the most valuable genealogical information available is sitting – in many cases undigitized – in courthouses, it is worth pushing through the fear factor. Read More »

If You Can Remember Your Password, It’s Probably Not Secure

Recently on the Genealogy for Technology Facebook group, someone asked about password managers. I am a fan of 1Password, but there are others out there that work just as well. Password managers work by creating a new randomly generated password for each site you create a login for. Those passwords are stored along with your username in an encrypted database that is protected by a master password. (In order to work well, your master password should be difficult to crack.) Some systems have their own servers for syncing and some use Dropbox or other cloud-based storage systems. I use 1Password with Dropbox and it syncs my password database across all of my devices almost instantaneously. These password managers allow you to isolate each account from all of the others by using a hard to crack password that isn’t used anywhere else. Read More »

Genealogy Research: Start Simple

I attended Heritage Day at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley last weekend. It was a great program (and free!) and in addition to hearing 2 fantastic seminars by Sharon Hodges, I was able to help solve a genealogy brick wall. The attendee sitting next to me was discussing a photo of her great grandfather in an unidentified uniform, and my curiosity got the best of me and I asked to see the photo. She wanted to discover what service and war (if any) the uniform was from and was not having any luck.

What we started with… Read More »

Would Your Family History Research Survive a Disaster?

As a web publisher (I run a popular homeschool website and manage the technology for my daughter’s competitive gymnastics team), I am keenly aware of the tragic results of digital data loss. As an amateur genealogist, I zealously guard my family history data (computerized files as well as old family photos and physical documents), which represents thousands of hours of work. I am zealous about protecting both forms of data, and I’ve come up with a 3-pronged approach for each. I hope this information will help you to consider how to best protect your valuable family history research. Read More »

My Favorite Sources for Genealogy Clues

There are lots of place that genealogists look for clues that will lead them to discovering the next generation in a family tree, but two of my favorites are death certificates and death notices/obituaries. Depending on the state, a death certificate may give you the name, years married, and birthplace of the deceased along with the cause of death, the date and place of burial, the next of kin’s signature, and the names and birthplaces of the parents of the deceased. Death notices are more likely to list the names and hometowns of siblings and children. Read More »

Getting Started with Genealogy… What I Wish I Had Known

Twenty-two years ago when I bought my first how-to book about genealogy, I couldn’t even imagine what would be available to the amateur genealogist just 10 years later. I am still learning (and making lots of mistakes), but my interest is more serious, my research is more detailed and well-documented, and my criteria for accepting the validity of claims is more stringent than even a couple of years ago. I could have saved myself countless hours and quite a bit of frustration if I had known just a few important tips before I started entering data in my family tree software. These 5 tips will help you avoid frustration down the road. Read More »

Genealogical Proof Summary Example: Theodocia Ann Giles

Proof summaries are automatically generated by Evidentia using the information gathered when you input the claims made by each source. The proof summary makes it easy to view all of the sources associated with a single supposition so that you can evaluate it in light of all of the information you have gathered. Each claim is broken down into direct (states the claim), indirect (the claim is implied), or negative (the claim is based on the absence of information in a source, such as a census without a person in the household) as well as primary (the person recording the information was there when the event happened), secondary (the person recording the information received it second or third hand), or undetermined (it isn’t known whether the source is primary or secondary), which helps you to come to a conclusion that you can back up with reliable evidence. Read More »