22 September 2015


Recently I started going through boxes of research that had been in a storage unit, had been brought to my residence, had made it through a flooding so so, and that I had not entirely forgotten about.  Things had gotten scattered so I also didn't know what I still had, where it was, and if it was still valuable to my research.

Most of the research was handwritten and old photocopies.  Because of the time spent and the detail, I know I have to read each and every piece of paper and evaluate it for the value it has to my present personal genealogy.

The condition of the paper varies, making me wish that I had never ever used any sort of typical lined, punch holed, paper.  But not everything can go on archival paper.

A friend suggested THE CLOUD for storage.

No not even if said friend PAYS for me to have a CLOUD!

Having had computer disks thrown away and memory sticks stolen, having purchased a couple lap tops only to see them become defunct rather quickly, any suggestion of THE CLOUD as optimal storage, any suggestion that I SCAN all these papers, and I react negatively.

I do not want to give up my paper copies, no matter what electronics could be applied.  I don't want to worry about equipment, monthly fees, or being hacked.

As I looked through these papers, besides seeing that various brands of the lined, punch holed paper had discolored and had folded in different ways, the cheaper papers no deal, I also noticed that no doubt PHOTOCOPIES showed less aging and held up better, and ANY PAPER KEPT IN PLASTIC did very well.

THE PLASTIC HOLDERS are heavier.  So your binders can be difficult to carry, but I think that binders and plastic holders with paper inside is the way to go, so long as you also remember to cover them on the shelf to prevent dust from settling in.

Because sure enough old plastic binders do show dust and dirt and age.

Through all of this I have a cardboard mailing tube that contains some of my oldest, handwritten, and hand drawn charts.  Much of what I wrote on these charts was there proven, some of it was speculation or calculation (birth and marriage and death dates.) 

But when I think of the person(s) who will inherit my research, I think:

1) The hand written and hand drawn charts will probably feel more personal and valuable.

2) It's going to cost a whole lot to ship all this research to them.

3) But do they only want the end results, the book, or do they want to follow along with my research, realize just the high price of those end results, and will they be inspired to continue, documenting my life when I'm probably dead perhaps, or to travel to the places that their gggparents left?  Will they even take care of all my research, such as taking care to pass it along to the person in the family who they deem the most interested and worthy?

4) I've concluded that I will provide some simple electronic resources, such as family pictures and some scans on CD.

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14 September 2015



I sent away for the marriage records (civil) of my aunts, uncles, and parents and grandparents. I wanted the marriage dates and places as well as the mother's maiden names.  Eventually everything came in.  My shock was learning that my parent's did apply for a marriage license but there is no record of them actually having got married.  I got a note back stating that an extensive search had been made.

I'm sure they did marry.  But now I'm not sure they married the same year they got the license.  This is because there's a story about how they got married and then went back to work on Monday, no honeymoon, and that they got married on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.  The year on the license and the date I recall they celebrated their marriage doesn't line up with the Friday, Saturday, or Sunday or the story that they met and married in a year.  I remember celebrating their Silver Anniversary but I can't remember what year we did!

What can I do to prove they married?

Ruth - Pittsburgh PA


Hi Ruth,

I checked FAMILYSEARCH which does have SOME records of marriages for Allegheny County - Pittsburgh area - Pennsylvania, just in case, and nothing came up.  Sending away was the right thing to do.

I suspect that your parents got married in a local church and the priest didn't send the paperwork in that he should have to the Allegheny County people to make a CIVIL RECORD of it.  But as usual it could simply be a missing, burned up, or otherwise document.

But there are a few things I want you to do.

First, check the date you remember as their anniversary for several years after that license to see if the dates work for the story.  It might give you a date, it might not.

Second, call and ask Allegheny County this question, "Once a couple applied for a marriage license, was there a time limit that they could use it, say a few months or a year or two, before they would have to apply again?  (This could vary by location, so anyone else reading this, call the location)

Three, check city directories and or census or possibly Social Security APPLICATION, to try and figure out about where they were living.  Then check to see what churches might have been in the area.  Additionally, if the area is right next to another county, then maybe they married in another county.  So you also want to ask, "In PA, if a couple got a marriage license in Allegheny County, could they use it in Washington County?"

Four, If they likely married Catholic, call the CATHOLIC DIOCESE ARCHIVES and ask them if they have records of marriages.  Explain that the CIVIL RECORD does not include evidence that the marriage actually occurred.  Possibly the actual PARISH still has records, but with so many churches closing, I'll bet on the archives first, especially if you cannot be sure of the church.

LINK! http://diopitt.org/department-chancellor/office-archives-and-record-center

I hope this helps!


10 September 2015


1940 ... 

So many of us longed for the 1940 census to be released, and by now many of us have outlived the effort to get the entire census online in various databases including the one from NARA, the one from Ancestry, and the one from FAMILYSEARCH.  Just as when the ELLIS ISLAND site came up years ago, there was a huge impact on these sites as so very many people went to them at all hours to get in - temporary but frustrating crashes - missing pages - missing towns - and most of it has been resolved and is now as good as it's going to get.

I myself am back to reading neighborhoods page by page as information I seek is NOT coming up via text searches for surnames.  I would be happier rolling microfilm as I think my forefinger is going to need a joint replacement for all the stress of clicking.

Perhaps the biggest disappointment is when you find your family and SUSPECT or KNOW the information on it is in error, especially because the census taker took that information given BY A NEIGHBOR OR LANDLORD.  (There is usually a notation on the side of the form stating this.)  But if the information was not given by the head of the household or a family member, I would not take it for granted to be correct, even if that person was well intentioned.

I can tell you right now that contemporary neighbors and landlords have said things so incorrect about me that some of it is misunderstanding and some of it is slander.  (And I've noticed that when I put it into writing that I know about it and that it is wrong information and that I don't appreciate it, when some people then see me, they blush, get big eyed with shock of seeing me, and even run out of the room.  Oh the things people can or will say when they think you'll never know.) 

So, taking that experience in real life, and that anger, back to 1940, I have to wonder.  If someone's landlord didn't like them, if the family wasn't home much or hadn't paid their rent on time, or whatever,  WHY WOULD A POTENTIAL GOSSIP BE CONSIDERED AN AUTHORITY ON THE FAMILY?  What it means when you see that the information did not come from a family member is YOU CANNOT COUNT ON IT.

It means that you have to find other collaborating evidence.

You have to check CITY DIRECTORIES, your CHURCH records, your Social Security Applications, and so on, to verify it.  Do find out whatever you can on an employer if listed, just in case the employee information is now part of some collection somewhere and to understand if they were small or large businesses.  This may be especially interesting if they lived in a company town.

Some of the information on the 1940 census given by neighbors that I've found to be incorrect:

The spelling of the family surname.  (It is incorrect in handwriting, and so transcribed in text the same.)

The age of some or all of the family members.  (Thus one woman who had five children out of the home and who was in her 50's was listed as 40, based on the younger children at home.)

The language they spoke.  (I noticed "German" listed for people who spoke German as one of their languages, but whose native language was Slovak or Hungarian.  The census taker had a German surname.  My guess is that she spoke German and so did the information giver.)

People who were working, perhaps part time or in their own small business due to the economy, listed as not working at all.  In some cases this was the parent, so children's income was assumed to be supporting the family.  While in Hard Times, and in days before SSI or SSDI, some old before their time husbands were too old or ill to work and the children did support the parents or contribute income to the family,  I'd research around it.  WHY?  Because misinformation means a false family story.  (You want to understand that family in their place in time and history, as well as their ethnic, religious, and FAMILY CULTURE.  You want to ask, "Did this family value education?" "Was this family sexist? Did the males or the females or both quit school to support the family?  And so on.)

In reading this or any other census, record the DATE the census taker wrote the information.  Missing family members can be on no census at all because they MOVED in the weeks between one census taker visit and the next census taker visit in another part of the town or country.

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