Posts tagged Genealogical Documents

genealogy lost

Is your genealogy lost in the jungle?

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Genealogy lost? Maybe not

Records of daily life are the compass pointing you in the right direction.
genealogy lostIs your genealogy lost in the jungle? When you started doing your family history did you feel completely lost in a tangle of past research, not knowing what direction the previous researcher was going, or where they came from?

We recently experienced this problem when working with a new client on their family tree. They wanted us to begin with a 3rd great grandfather, Sven Strutz, who was supposedly born somewhere in Sweden in 1785. They knew the names of his children and grandchildren, but didn’t want us to pursue those people because they already “knew” that information. So there we were. “X” marked the spot on the pedigree “map” where the family line ended, but we didn’t know how the previous researchers got there, or where they were going. Jungle growth had covered up the genealogical trail.

Fortunately, we were able to discuss this situation with our client and explain the importance of discovering and uncovering this elusive trail of previous research which had been conducted years before through correspondence. We were now able with modern technology and new resources to confirm the earlier studies and add to it with a broader scope of information made up of newer available digital documents and microfilmed records.

Most importantly, at the conclusion of our research, we provided a written report summary of our findings with documentation of our research efforts including cited evidence that future generations of researchers could use to see our genealogical trail and where it was going.

Genealogy Research is like Treasure Island

Do you remember reading Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson? It told of gold and silver buried on a deserted island that was identified with a treasure map. That map was illustrated with both clues and false leads. If fortunate in reading this guide, a person could be led directly to a chest of jewels and doubloons. But if the reader was not careful, a false lead could redirect them in the wrong direction and even into dangerous traps.

Genealogy research is very much like “Treasure Island.” Pedigree charts and family group sheets made by others are the treasure maps that we follow. But the information found on these charts, are the results of past research that first must be verified and documented or we may be led away from our treasure. When that happens, we have to retrace our steps on our “pedigree family maps” until we find out where the weakness in our information was, and begin again from that secure point.

And that is exactly what we did to find the treasure of family history for our Strutz client. On the Strutz family we located the children of Sven Strutz in Tolg Parish, Sweden. We learned that Sven was a cavalryman stationed in the parish much like a local policeman. But careful reconstruction of his family through parish records revealed two children born prior to his marriage to Christin Charlotte Pettersdatter (Eckdahl), implying a previous marriage. Now we are in search of the births of those two children and that first marriage, which along with military records, we hope will lead us to the origins of Sven Strutz.

Never be afraid to retrace your steps when following a pedigree family map. In doing so some of the landmarks revealed in the documents become familiar, and can spark new ideas and concepts about the genealogy research.

Picking Up the Trail After 30 Years

In another similar case, I was asked to pick up on a project I had researched thirty years ago. I didn’t remember the problem at all, and so was lost in a jungle of earlier research. By reviewing the reports from those early efforts I was able to get us out of the family tree maze and back on the trail quickly. In the many years since that earlier study, new abstracted publications have been added to library bookshelves, plus a whole new world of online digital records has come about, which greatly benefitted this new research effort; and clues began to appear in our hunt for ancestral treasure.

I formulated a new timeline for this colonial ancestor after discovering details about his first appearance in America, as being a militia soldier, and then in managing a tavern. These everyday clues were not primary birth, death, or marriage events, but they told us about his association with events of history, and how he related to people around him. Each piece of the puzzle drew us closer to learning about the origins of this ancestor and his family. Each clue on his family map led us closer to the treasure we were seeking. We now knew where we had been and had a clear direction for future research.

Out of the Jungle

To get out of the jungle, we must always remember that ancestors lived normal lives. That means they conducted business, raised families, suffered illnesses, participated in wars, and experienced calamities. Each of these aspects of life resulted in records being kept. As we study and search for the treasures found through our family group sheets and pedigree charts, we need to imagine what was happening in the lives of our ancestors and consider what types of records they may have recorded in the process.

Our ancestors were farmers, cattlemen, shoemakers, blacksmiths, tailors, carpenters, doctors, lawyers, ministers, and a host of other professions. Many jobs required some level of education, and ancestors may have belonged to guilds that monitored skilled training. Some occupations required licensing, recorded by the county clerk. Our ancestors were members of churches which were more than just religious institutions; they were also social centers in the community. They also joined other social groups such as lodges or societies of one sort or another. Ancestry is found in all of this ordinary living.

This day to day living of our ancestors resulted in records, which are the clues we need to identify and cite on our family maps. Then as we continue to explore and research our family tree in the future, they will help us find and uncover the precious information we are seeking.

The jungle of life surrounds all of us, but we must not be afraid to venture out with the modern tools available in genealogy today and follow our pedigree family maps. With them we must access and verify previous research and documentation, create timelines, and write summary reports of our research findings with cited evidence. And as we backtrack where and when we need to, clear the trails and uncover the hazards, we will find our treasure, our Ancestors.

James W. Petty, AG, CG, is the Board-Certified and Accredited Professional Genealogist, “Climbing the Family Tree Professionally, since 1969”. He is President of HEIRLINES Family History & Genealogy, Inc. (www.Heirlines.com), the “Salt Lake City, Utah BBB Accredited Business” trusted professional genealogy research services firm, providing US and International genealogical and historical research for a world-wide clientele.

For Heirlines-Quality professional genealogy services, resources, and products including expert family tree research, LDS family history assistance, and answers to genealogy questions, please see Heirlines website www.Heirlines.com, and blog Heirlinesprofessionalgenealogy.com. For more genealogy and family history help and advice, please follow James W Petty, AG, CG and Heirlines Family History & Genealogy on Social Media: Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+.

Heirlines: We professionally identify and document ancestry and kinship relationships and verify and certify the family tree with Certified Family Trees™ and Certified Forensic Genealogy Solutions™. We’re ready when you’re ready!

organizing and sharing family photographs

The 1, 2, 3’s of organizing and sharing family photographs.

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Keeping it simple can make organizing and sharing family photographs accessible to everyone.

organizing and sharing family photographsHeirlines Professional Genealogy recently received a question regarding how to organize and document family photographs.

Question: Herbert L. Gleason, St. George, Utah, writes:
I’m not a genealogist, but I want to do something to help my family with their genealogy. I sure enjoy your articles. I just always need help with simple things.. all the detail just befuddles me…so, for me, just keep articles simple and to the point. Everyone just seems to get into so much detail right off the bat… can’t it be made more simple, like listing steps to follow, 1 2 3, etc.? Of course I know there is no easy way, but I sure look for it.

Answer:
Thank you for your question. There is always something that can be done, even if you aren’t a genealogist. Let me give you an idea, with some easy steps to accomplish it.

Pictures – Every family has a drawer full of old family pictures. Photographs, portraits, snapshots, drawings; and nearly all of them of people and events that the younger members of the family have no clue about. This is a gold mine for family history and genealogy. However unimportant some of these pictures may seem to you, they may hold the key to solving a genealogy question, or they can tell or add to a family history story. Organizing and identifying these items will provide an important tool for your family history, and it can be a lot of fun to do in the process. My own father recently gathered many of his old photographs and put them into several multi-picture frames, illustrating the individual pictures with names, dates, and anecdotes. These decorate a whole wall of his home, illustrating his memories of his family history in their own unique way, and entertaining every family member and guest that comes into his home.

The following are a few steps to help you compile and prepare your family pictures so that everyone in the family can share in your memories of family history.

1. Gather all of the photographs together in one place, such as a box, or a suitcase or something where everything can be kept, and easily gotten to. If it is difficult to get to, you won’t.

2. Go through the pictures and separate out, all of the pictures that you don’t recognize or know, and put them in a separate box or file. Don’t get rid of them, at least not yet.

3. At your nearest office supply story or photography shop, get a good supply of:
— Manila envelopes – 9″ by 12″ size for sorting groups of pictures.
— Plastic sleeves for individual pictures – These can be pages with multiple sleeves, or individual sleeves. Find the cheapest sleeves available.
— A package or two of small stickem labels (I use 1″x3″ labels).

4. Put your pictures in the photo sleeves, and in the envelopes. You can organize the envelopes chronologically, or alphabetically, depending on how you want to arrange your photographs.

5. identify your photographs on the labels, and attach the labels to the sleeves or envelopes that you put your pictures in. Never write on the picture. If you want to add notes or anecdotes, do so on one of the labels.

If this seems like a lot of work, just say to yourself: “Thank Heavens, I don’t have to do the Genealogy!” Seriously, though, it can be a lot of work; but it can be a lot of fun too. If it is more work than you can handle, get your family together for a Family Home Evening, or even a series of them, maybe one each month or so. Assign one member of the family to take notes, or write the information down, and take out one of your envelopes. Only take out one; you don’t want to scare anyone away. Then go through the pictures one by one, and tell the stories the pictures bring to mind. Let the kids and other family members ask questions. In doing so you will be sharing family history with your family. Have someone tape the session with a recorder. In the end you can share your testimony with them, and imprint on their minds and souls how important family pictures and history can be in their lives.

Oh, and those pictures no one remembers who they were? Put them in a big bowl and set it out on special occasions such as Christmas, holidays, birthday parties, Sunday dinners, family reunions, or even funerals, and let family members and guests rummage through them. They can use them to make up stories, or play guessing games. Someone might even recognize a face, or a place that was previously forgotten, and discover a lost treasure… that is no longer lost.

James W. Petty, AG, CG, is the Board-Certified and Accredited Professional Genealogist, “Climbing the Family Tree Professionally, since 1969”. He is President of HEIRLINES Family History & Genealogy, Inc. (www.Heirlines.com), the “Salt Lake City, Utah BBB Accredited Business” trusted professional genealogy research services firm, providing US and International genealogical and historical research for a world-wide clientele.

For Heirlines-Quality professional genealogy services, resources, and products including expert family tree research, LDS family history assistance, and answers to genealogy questions, please see Heirlines website www.Heirlines.com, and blog Heirlinesprofessionalgenealogy.com. For more genealogy and family history help and advice, please follow James W Petty, AG, CG and Heirlines Family History & Genealogy on Social Media: Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+.

Heirlines: We professionally identify and document ancestry and kinship relationships and verify and certify the family tree with Certified Family Trees™ and Certified Forensic Genealogy Solutions™. We’re ready when you’re ready!

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