Monday, July 16, 2012

Finding Females in your Family Tree

This week I attended a webinar on Finding Females in Your Family Tree by Mary Penner. This is another of the lessons that you can take by clicking the "Learn" tab on the website. I highly recommend these lessons and webinars. They are very professional, and cover a wide degree of subjects.

These are the notes I took from the lesson.

Goals for Finding Females in your Family Tree
  1. Identify her given and maiden names
  2. Place her in the correct birth family
  3. Prserve her story and her place in your family tree
Reaching your Research Goals
  • Pose a research question (Who were Eleanlor Cline's parents?)
  • Consider research strategies
  • Gather and evaluate evidence
  • Answer the question (John Fairfield and Sarah Kirby)
Research Concept - Direct Evidence
  • Information that answers a genealogical question explicitly
Research Concept - Indirect Evidence
  • Information that appears to be relevant to a genealogy question but needs to be combined with other information before an answer can be formulated.
  • Reframe the question
    • From: Who were Eleanor Cline's parents?
    • To: Who could have been Eleanor Cline's parents?
  • When direct evidence doesn't exist, refocus and look for indirect evidence
  • Who could have been Eleanor's parents?
    • Eleanor's oldes son was named Fairfield
    • Obit for James Fairfield mentions his parents, John and Sarah Fairfield, and his sister, Mrs. Cline
    • John Fairfield and Sarah Kirby married in 1856
    • 1860 census lists son, James
    • 1863 probate case for John Fairfield mentions two, unamed minor orphans
Cluster Genealogy
  • Idea that ancestors did not live in a vacum, but in a cluster of relatives, neighbors, friends, and associates
Research Strategy - Begin with Vital Records
  • What are vital records?
  • Work in reverse order - marriage might be the easiest
  • Record every clue and every source
Vital Records
  • Death certificates, church death records, town death registers, internment and cemetery records, obituaries
  • Marriage certificate, marriage register (religious or civil), newspaper announcements
  • Birth Certificate, baptismal records, newspaper announcements
  • Where?
    • Center for Disease Control and Prevention
  • No maiden name
  • No parent family
  • No known name
Research Strategy - Roles in the Family
  • Map out her family cluster
  • Who where her relatives
  • She was..
    • a daughter
    • a granddaughter
  • Was she
    • a wife or widow?
    • mother or mother-in-law?
    • sister or sister-in-law?
    • grandmother or aunt?
Role as a daughter or granddaughter
  • Who could have been her parents or grandparents?
    • Examine older people living nearby
    • Examine people buried nearby
  • Notice names of sons and daughters
  • Named in wills and probate cases
  • Named in deed records
  • Named in obituaries
Role as a wife or widow
  • Census Records
    • Federal, state, 1890 Special Veteran's census
  • Deeds
  • Military records - pensions
  • City directories
Role as a mother or mother-in-law
  • Who is a potential mother?
  • Notice all of the women
  • Court records
  • Estate Sales
  • Military records
  • Examine all possible children
Role as sister or sister-in-law
  • Obituaries
Examine her family cluster
  • Consider every possible role she played in the family
  • Focus on the men in her life
  • Don't limit research to your line
  • Put together all clues to build an indirect evidence case
Roles outside the family
  • Was she
    • a citizen?
      • Court records - civil and criminal; divorce
    • community resident?
      • diaries and letters written by others
      • newspapers
    • church member?
      • membership rolls
      • minutes
      • confirmations
    • consumer?
      • store ledgers
    • Employee?
      • business records
    • club member?
      • membership rolls
      • meeting minutes
    • student?
      • yearbooks
  • Focus on location
    • what records are available where she was know to have lived?
  • Focus on opportunity
    • What was available to her?
  • Focus on circumstances
    • What events occured in her lifetime?
Finding Females - Tips
  • Names
    • nicknames
    • middle initial - sometimes the middle name was used interchangebly with the first name
    • name at the time of marraige is not always the maiden name (previous marriages)
    • names of her children
  • Reliability of the informant
  • Don't assume accuracy
  • Read case studies
    • National Genealogical Society Quarterly
    • New England Historical and Genealogical Register

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