The Online Genealogist

John Brugliera

Archive for the month “November, 2014”

The Online Genealogist is thankful for… online genealogy!!

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When I began my family history research in 1989 and someone told me I’d be The Online Genealogist in 2014, I’d reply with “On WHAT line?  My paternal or maternal??

Boy, have we come a long way in 25 years!  When historians look back on genealogy as a whole, there’s probably NO other quarter-century period where SO much has changed.  I say for the better, but others mainly those stubborn non-technical types wouldn’t be so quick to jump up and down in excitement for online genealogy and what’s in store for the future.

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So I thought now would be the perfect time to compare family history research, then (1989), now (2014) and in the future.  Remember that old song In The Year 2525?  Well, we won’t go THAT far ahead… How about 2025?  Which, of course, would be all speculation on my part.

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Then:  The majority of genealogical research is conducted in libraries.

Now:  A large percentage of genealogical research can be conducted via the internet.

Future:  The MAJORITY of genealogical research can be conducted via the internet.

Then:  The research you’re undertaking is heavily dictated by what repositories you can physically visit and when.  You’re at the mercy of the hours they’re open and when you can get there.

Now:  The research you’re undertaking is heavily dictated by the research path you’re following online – 24/7.  A MUCH more natural and efficient way to conduct ANY type of research!.  The “old” method is seriously backwards and counter-intuitive.  Instead of going with the flow, you’re often swimming upstream; researching what you can where you’re at when you can.

Future:  Even more “now” research and less “then”, which is inefficient and “highly illogical”.  Thank you Mr. Spock!

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Then:  A specific research plan can take weeks – even MONTHS – to complete.

Now:  A specific research plan can take a few hours – even MINUTES – to complete.

Future:  A specific research plan can take minutes – even SECONDS – to complete.  OK, so that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but you surely get the gist.

Then:  Roots.

Now:  Who Do You Think You Are?, Finding Your Roots, Who’s In My Line?

Future:  Instant Connections, Ancestral Challenge, Genealogy Update.

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Then:  Hours and hours are spent traveling to and from each research repository.  Which adds up to dollars and DOLLARS.

Now:  You only travel for research if you can’t find what you’re looking for online.  And more often than not, you won’t be leaving your chair.

Future:  You only travel for research if you absolutely MUST.  More will be found online, thus less time spent in your car or on a plane.

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Then:  You’re overwhelmed with paper copies.

Now:  You’re overwhelmed by all the original records online.

Future:  You’re overwhelmed by immediate access to ANYTHING and EVERYTHING genealogy.

Then:  You need to make the most of your library visits; often working on several ancestors at once.  See counter-intuitive above.

Now:  You can research your ancestors ONE AT A TIME online.  Which is 100 times more productive and a whole lot less confusing.

Future:  You’ll research your one ancestor with much more ease and less mouse clicks.

OG 07

Then:  You either transcribe a document or make a paper copy of it.

Now:  You either download an image of a record or physically take a digital photograph of it.

Future:  99% digital, bay-bee!

Then:  Correspondence is mainly done via the United States Postal Service.  You can expect a reply in maybe a month or two.

Now:  Correspondence is mainly done via email.  You can expect a reply in maybe a week or two at the most.

Future:  Less and less correspondence will be required, with the immense amount of online offerings available.

OG 08

Then:  NOTHING is online because there IS no online!

Now:  5% of genealogical records are online.  Pffffft!

Future:  More than 6% of genealogical records are online.  Heh.

Then:  DNA is unreliable and not accepted as evidence in court.

Now:  DNA is heavily used in our justice system as well as for genealogical research.

Future:  More and more people will have their DNA tested, thus making it a more reliable and essential research tool.

OG 09

Then:  An Everton’s Genealogical Helper subscription is a MUST-HAVE.

Now:  An ancestry.com subscription is a MUST-HAVE.

Future:  An All-Access Online Genealogy subscription is a MUST-HAVE.

Then:  “Dear local genealogical society…”

Now:  Dear Myrtle!

Future:  “Dear XJ-1B Automated Genealogy Assistant, please locate for me…”

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Then:  “I found dozens of ancestors!  But it took me an entire YEAR.”

Now:  “I found hundreds of ancestors!!  In just a few months.”

Future:  “I found THOUSANDS of ancestors!!!  In a non-stop two-week online marathon session!”

Then:  Contacting and connecting to newly-found living relatives can be a chore.

Now:  Ancestry.com shaky-leaf hints, Facebook, email, Skype, etc.

Future:  ?????

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So, as you can see, I am VERY optimistic regarding the future of genealogical research; especially online.  The speed and sheer numbers of digital records being added DAILY is mind-boggling.

In this day and age, those not embracing all this technology are at a serious disadvantage.  Even if you visit a repository in person, the first thing they’ll have you do is get onto one of their computers to access what they’re already offering online anyway.  So, there’s no excuse NOT to be keeping up with the times and taking full advantage of EVERYTHING online research has to offer!!

OG 12

Then:  The Yugo.

Now:  The Prius.

Future:  Flying cars!!!

Eh, there’s hope yet…

 

Then:  John Brugliera, Genealogist.  Zero clients.

Now:  The Online Genealogist.  Several clients.

Future:  The Online Genealogist Co., Inc.  Hundreds of clients!!

JohnBrugliera@theonlinegenealogist.com

TOG WEB

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The Online Genealogist asks “How do you find her maiden name?”

Maiden Name 01First off, many thanks to MAD’s Al Jaffee for the above extreme, but fitting image.  Found elsewhere online, uncredited.  I’d recognize his drawing style anywhere.

One of the most challenging aspects of genealogical research is discovering the maiden name of a female ancestor.  How many times have we seen a compiled family history, with entries such as this?…

Maiden Name 02

Yes, the dreaded blank line after the young lady’s given name.  Even esteemed genealogical societies’ published family histories aren’t immune.  In fact, it’s more surprising if ALL maiden names were known.  Why is that?  Several reasons, but near the top would surely be the lack of female records in general.  The overwhelming majority of early records feature men, men, men, men…

It was glaringly apparent in those Lebanon, NH town records I was looking at last week.  There may be an occasional “widow Reynolds” mentioned in a new road survey or “Sally McNeil” in the town poor house, but 99% of the names in there are William, Daniel, Thomas, Ziba or some other equally manly moniker.

One of the best ways I’ve found maiden names are through the Federal Census records – mainly 1850 and on when all members of a household are listed as opposed to the head only (MAN) that was there in 1840 and before.  The most recent censuses are even better.  “How so?”, you ask?  “How about an example?”, I answer.  Here’s one from the 1930 Federal Census…

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Any guesses for what the wife of Peter Gioia, Pauline’s maiden name is?  Score 1000 points if you yell “Messina!  Messina!  Messina!!!”  I’ve found SO many maiden names in this manner.  It could be a maternal nephew or bonus multiple in-laws, as in the above Boston snippage.  The maiden name is right there!

And if you’re looking at 1850, 1860 or 1870 , where the relationship to the head of household wasn’t included, no need to fret!  If I see an older Mrs. Wilson living with a Richardson family, I’ll most definitely be looking at Wilsons in the area as possible/probable parents for Mrs. Richardson, which of course, would provide her maiden name.

Other great maiden name hints?  Middle names!  Oh, and OBITS!!  But those are whole other posts…

 

If you’re looking for a hard-to-find maiden name, you’ll find that I may find out what that is.   I’m the Online Genealogist!

JohnBrugliera@theonlinegenealogist.com

TOG WEB

 

 

Great genealogy information and unique history snapshots are found in town records!

 

Leb Town Records 01
FamilySearch’s impressive online town records collection comes in very handy when looking for earlier vital records, town meetings, warnings out, etc.   As most volumes are NOT indexed by FS, you’ll need to browse and manually hunt down what genealogy items you are looking for.  Although many of the “physical” books DO contain varying indexes within.

I also find that reading through these town records provides an interesting picture of what life was like some 200+ years ago in a particular area.  Even more fascinating is when they’re your town records.

For instance, I can’t imagine Lebanon, NH bringing up these items during a recent meeting.

Leb Town Records 02

I’ve been living here for over 12 years and I have yet to see any swine running around loose on the streets.   And the punishment for stray piggies?

Lebanon Town Recs v.1 075

Talk about government pork – quite literally!  Also in The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same Dept…

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Let’s meet to specifically dismiss the meeting – yes!!  Or better yet…

Lebanon Town Recs v.1 004

What?  A government getting NOTHING DONE?!?  Nah!  Can’t happen!  OK, I’ll try and dial the sarcasm down some.

But when they DO get some work done, it comes out like this.

Lebanon Town Recs v.1 007

These nine lines could easily be whittled down to three.  But not by the government.  I’d think using such big words back in 1768 would more likely “discommode the inhabitants”.

Also within Lebanon’s town records are road surveys, which are impossible to use now.

Leb Town Records 04

Lots of long-gone trees and rock piles!

Here’s another challenging item brought up in one of the meetings…

Leb Town Records 03

I’m guessing this pre-dates the first town library, as that would surely be the job of the head librarian.  Then again, if they had a library, this wouldn’t be an issue!

They could also use the library for a good dictionary or two.

Lebanon Town Recs v.1 025

Though it looks rather  intentional.  A Town Clerk doubling as the County Comedian? 

Lebanon Town Recs v.1 006

So, who Wood have thunk that town records would contain so much neat stuff??

 

I did, but I’m The Online Genealogist!!  Hire me as I have NO problem delving into town records!

JohnBrugliera@theonlinegenealogist.com

TOG WEB

 

The Online Genealogist asks “How many differents ways can you spell ‘Shakespeare’?”

Answer:  THOUSANDS!!!!!

Shakespeare 01

This 1869 book goes above and beyond in exemplifying the various ways ONE SURNAME can be found in various genealogical documents.  And the author, George Wise, includes them ALL in here!

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Sheyxpeer, Scheykesspierre and everything in between.  There are 15 more full pages like this!!

Why is this overkill of Shakespeare surname variations important to family history research? Because YOU will most likely discover your ancestors’ surnames are not set in Stone.  Or Stoan.  Or Stowen, even!

I’ve heard far too many researchers swear up and down that there is only one CORRECT WAY to spell their ancestor’s surname.  While that may be true, nobody told that to the census taker, town clerk or city directory editor.  And because of this, you will have to look at any possible spelling variations of that surname in those records.  Even your ancestors themselves may be lousy at spelling and not realize that Cammbelle is NOT the “correct” Campbell.

And yes, even a world-renowned writer can have trouble with his own name in a SINGLE DOCUMENT!

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Ya just gotta love Mr. Wise’s sense of humor, as shown in the book’s title at the top of each page.

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The bottom line here is that NOT seeking surname variations is akin to wearing research blinders where you will limit yourself and probably NOT find hoo you are looking for.

As with the author, the Wise surname is prevalent in my ancestral lineage. If I had ONLY stubbornly searched for Wise, I would’ve missed out on several records that were listed under Wyze, Weiss, Whys, etc.  “As a Whiez man once told me…”

You will tend to find that most misspellings will be a phonetic version of the name, so take a piece of blank paper, start saying the surname out loud and write down EVERY possibility you can come up with.  You may not end up with 4000 like George Wise did, but you will have at least a dozen or so likely alternate spellings to keep in mind if you can’t locate it under the “correct” Shakespeare.

In closing, I can confidently state that the surname you’re looking for WILL have variations in some of the records you refer to.  Neglecting to take into account those “misspelled” surnames would be a serious handicap in your genealogy research.

And if you have John Smith as an ancestor, don’t believe for one second you are immune from this blog post’s message.

Shakespeare 06

…Smiff, Snnith, Sumith, Smiyth, Schmith…

 

And if YOU are having trouble finding your ancestor (correctly-spelled surname or not); hire ME – The Online Genealogist!!

JohnBrugliera@theonlinegenealogist.com

TOG WEB

 

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