17 April 2016



On the side next to my ancestor's family on the 1940 census it's noted that the information was given by a neighbor.  I know that there are errors in the information.  One child is recorded as male, but was a female.  My grandmother's name is in error, but I know it's her because she's the right age and between two siblings whose names and ages are correct.  Strangely, at the bottom my grandmother is also listed in detail, that she's employed and where and so on.  How would the neighbor know that detail?  Why would a census taker talk to a neighbor and not verify these things with the family?

Can I still use this bad census information to proof?

New Jersey

Answer from Ancestry Worship Genealogy

Yes, you can use it as part of the proofing process.  Simply you write it much like you just explained it to me, sighting the correct information and the errors.   You would then use other information to substantiate the correct information.

The census takers did talk to neighbors, when they could not find the family itself welcoming, at home, or when the language differences made it difficult.  May I suggest that the neighbor might have been someone who was trying to do their best to be cooperative?  Sure, this neighbor could have been a busy-body, the town gossip, or she could have been the landlord.  (Can you find her on the census nearby, such as in the same building, next door, or down the street, perhaps in a single family home?  Could be interesting and informative!"

In the last US Census, census takers had to try an address twice and then engage their supervisors.

16 April 2016


Get a copy of this book!
If you're a do it yourselfer, well, you can do a budget job, but you should try not to do a sloppy job.  If you're going to do a family history project, strive for pro standards.  Really, nothing less will do.
I'm going to pick on the Latter Day Saints here.  They have the world's biggest collection of submitted genealogies in the world and I know it's a temptation, especially if you are not personally that into the research work, or it's just not your best subject in this life, to lean on these pre-submitted genealogies, some of which are old enough that the contact information provided in them is no longer any good.
For the LDS members to me it is even more essential that each and every person and familial connection be proofed since there are spiritual rituals and services done based on this proof.

Sadly, years ago when I was still tempted to accept a submitted genealogy, I came across some interconnections between submitted genealogies and well, very sloppy research.  All three submitted in one case contained errors.  Which is why, I think that even when or especially when you are an LDS member, that you be thorough. And sometimes that means that it's going to take a longer time and more effort than you have in you, or that you'll have to stop!
THIS BOOK STRESSES THAT WE MUST ALSO PROTECT OTHERS, keeping confidential any personal or genealogy information, and that we can submit only that which is substantiated with facts.
(In a family history writing project, one may document oral histories and so on, but also point out what is and isn't proofed)
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13 April 2016



Is it ever worth it to collect families by surname?  I've been running mine on Ancestry, the popular databases, and there are dozens in many countries.  How can I connect them?


Answer from Ancestry Worship Genealogy

Probably not.

Back in the day, I met one woman, pre-databases, who had spent years documenting thousands of families with her Spanish surname.  I thought that was kind of crazy, and it's probably unlikely that she ever got that name, fairly common, back to one patriarch.  Plus this is not genealogy...

Genealogy is when you go back generation after generation, as far as you can go, documenting.  In the process you might document a great number of family groups whose connections take a long time or never to prove, on the chance that they are related.  However, you might document them only because they lived in the same place as a proven ancestor or have some other viable connection.  For instance, if you find on Naturalization Papers a different town than the one named on a Steamship arrival to the USA, for the same person, you likely would investigate both places looking for family members.

If your surname is quite uncommon, it might be worth it to see if they are related, since an unusual surname might after all originate with a particular patriarch. HERE IS WHERE DNA COLLECTION SURNAME PROJECTS might be useful.  Once you have proven a relationship that way, you might find yourself working with others who are related to put the family story together, with their help in their other countries.

For instance, I know someone who has a Polish surname for which there are no more than 600 people alive in the world, some in the United States, Canada, France, England, as well as Poland, possibly the Ukraine and Slovakia.  This is a history of people fleeing Poland as immigrants fairly recently to other countries.  Because some of their members were on borders, they have had seizures of persons and properties by Russians as well as Nazi's...  This surname appears, though not Jewish, in concentration camp records,  also among men killed in the forest who were soldiers, and among men taken to Siberia.  The family was being liquidated.


07 April 2016


Question for Ancestry Worship Genealogy

I've been reading old records from a parish in or near Paris from the 1800's and the priest keeps writing in "Long Illness" in the death records.  What does this mean?


Answer from Ancestry Worship Genealogy

"Long Illness" can mean anything from cancer to TB to any other illness that takes a long time to kill a person.  It can also simply mean Old Age, and all the debilitations through the years; that a person just wasn't themselves or feeling good for a long time.  A Long Time itself is subjective.  To me a Long Illness is years on end, but to some people six months is a long time to suffer.

It's therefore a mystery illness, particularly one that was not well understood at that time and place.  You may have to be satisfied with that.  However, here are things you could check into before you write it up.

1) At that time and place were death records only kept in the village or town or only at the church?  Were the records duplicated or also kept in the Dioceses archives or perhaps sent to a larger administrative center, and kept as a civil record?  See if both records agree or one has more to say about the death.

2) Where is the person buried?  Does the cemetery have any records that might not only give you a grave location but also testify to the reason for death?  (In the USA the death certificate and burial/cemetery record usually back each other up.)

3) Was the death covered in a newspaper article or other published account, for instance if the person was a member of a club, university, team, or union, or employed with a large company, or notable as a dignitary or politician, lawyer or doctor ? Possibly their obituary will give more information.

4) At the time and place of their death were there any prevailing illnesses or plagues?  For instance, you say that the priest keeps writing "Long Illness" and that makes me think that maybe there was TB in that town.  Knowing this would not prove that your ancestry died the same way,  but it would be OK to add a paragraph about diseases of that time and place for the purposes of historical interest!

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02 April 2016


I met an interesting man a few months ago, for whom English is a second language.  When he failed to understand what it is I do, I didn't know if it was a communication problem or what.  Despite his big smile and sparkling eyes when he saw me, he also said some things that would lead me to think that maybe he was underestimating me dramatically.  I was thinking that maybe I shouldn't have this man a friend, that maybe he is too sexist for me. 

Then recently I ran into him and this time he pointed at me and said, "Genealogy Road Show!"  I understand now.  Two and two together!"

That wasn't all.  Apparently he also made a point of learning where the local genealogy resources are.  He asked me not only if I watched the TV show but if I used these resources.

Well, I don't watch the show and I do use all the resources that he mentioned - and more.  So I briefly told him that one place seemed to specialize in German heritage into the United States, while another had very little on a particular ethnic heritage of mine but that I'd found something valuable to my own personal research the last time I went there.

But this is progress, this understanding.

So I decided to watch a Genealogy Road Show on YouTube. 

My feeling is that by showing only the resolutions to a specific question the show is kept fast paced and at a certain height of interest.  It's so opposite than the reality of long hours of deep concentration that genealogy research often requires.

I have no doubt that all the experts with the latest databases and relationships within archives can cut through to the questions in record time, but the show does give a VERY FALSE IMPRESSION of how fast and easy genealogical research can be done.

I suspect that there is a lot of pre-interviewing and pre-researching done before selections are made of what guests and what specific questions will actually be filmed and aired on the show.  If it's going to take too long - and go out of budget - then that one will not be a go.

You should not feel yourself a failure as a researcher or feel that your professional is going slow based on this show, which is ultimately misleading to those who might not consider that maybe 90% or more of what goes on there happens off the show in the planning and editing!