Doing your genealogy

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valerie
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Joined: Sun Sep 05, 2004 12:00 pm

Doing your genealogy

Post by valerie »

I'd like to try and do mine, after coming across some interesting

documents in my grandmother's things... at some point, she changed

her first and middle names (legally) and I wondered if anyone

knew if that will make it harder to trace back or not. Plus, I learned

my great grandmother's maiden name was Smith, and I wondered

if that is a barrier since it's quite common.

I know about websites to use and stuff, basically I'd like more

personal experience type things. Did it take you a long time?

Really find myself wishing I had asked a LOT more questions

when there were people around to ask! (Although I'm sure they

would have kept a lot of secrets!)
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Týr
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Doing your genealogy

Post by Týr »

You're fortunate that you live in a country where a change of name has to be notified for official registration. The law in England, to this day, is that anyone can change their first, middle or last names any time they like and there's no legal requirement to notify anybody. A person's name is "what they're known as", not what a certificate says. What one then does with one's pristine new name might well dispose a court to find evidence of deliberate fraud, if that was your intent, but the name would still have been legal. Quite a few organizations like banks and mortgage companies and quite likely the Passport Office would also insist on seeing a public announcement before opening an account or issuing a passport in the new name but that's a secondary issue too.

You're right about Smith being harder to trace. I have a Smith up my paternal grandfather's tree. I expect most people do.

"Did it take you a long time" - around a week but you need to decide what your objective is. Mine would be to push back all the branches of the tree one generation, and then to do it again, and again, rather than haring down one specific line of descent back to the Pilgrim Fathers and leaving an unpruned look to the final product. That's idealistic, of course - some lines are undiscoverable, some are shockingly easy to follow. I still prefer a tidy shape. Coming back toward the present from several generations back, looking for cousins and collaterals, is often harder than going backwards, but not everyone would want to. The other huge difference between doing it where you are and where I am is the existence of official records and unofficial indices online. In England it's often a matter of whether an individual collection of parishes has been quarried by a local Family History Enthusiast and the database put online - finding a resource like that can bring a year's search down to a week, which is what happened last time I went out looking.

The "asking questions while there's time" is relevant to get back as far as officially released national lists - in England I'm thinking of the ten-year household census returns which are under a 100 year embargo before publication of names and places (as opposed to analyzed statistics which come out immediately). I suspect that more recent official records in the USA are more open to online inspection than ours but I'm only guessing. Being as you're in an ex-colony, if you need hand-holding around England/Wales/Ireland/Scotland records eventually, there's a couple of us here who can be useful if asked.

Name changing does make it harder to search, it increases the number of permutations you have to look for. My mother and her grandfather both used their forenames reversibly and even I have the occasional alias.

If you end up looking for English antecedents the Household Census name, occupation and age lists are online from 1841 to 1911. The US equivalent is perhaps the Mormon's IGI since what one State displays will be different to any other State (more guessing on my part, though I'm interested to learn the answer).

Would you like to describe what you're actually hoping to end up with, as far as the shape of your tree is concerned? Are some branches likely to be more interesting or followable than others?
Long Live General Kim Jong-un, the Shining Sun!
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valerie
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Joined: Sun Sep 05, 2004 12:00 pm

Doing your genealogy

Post by valerie »

Thanks, Tyr.

Yes, I expect some will be more interesting or followable, but

I also already know of at least one dead end that is sad, I was

told for many years I was related to someone, then after the age

of Google, found out he died without having any children. Exactly why

I was told that will remain hidden, I'm sure. It may have been something

the person was told that they just passed on, maybe somewhere in time,

someone was trying to impress someone else!

Another thing I was told is that my paternal grandmother was a descendant

of Ulysses S. Grant. Obviously, that would make it very tempting to run back

there and search and see if that is true first, but I think I'd like to go bit by

bit on both mother and father's side.

I am also curious about availability of newspaper records, I know they used

to be on "microfiche" but in the digital age, not sure that still is the case.

It also appears that I might find out some things through prison records,

on both sides! Scary to learn at age 60 that your maternal grandmother

was a criminal, with her photo on the front page of a rather large daily!
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Týr
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Joined: Mon Oct 08, 2012 5:29 am

Doing your genealogy

Post by Týr »

If you haven't seen Google News Archive Search it's completely hit or miss but I do enjoy the occasional hour there. I'd be surprised to find an ancestor mentioned but mine rarely got promoted beyond labourer. Though there were a few publicans and mariners too.
Long Live General Kim Jong-un, the Shining Sun!
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tabby
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Location: Virginia

Doing your genealogy

Post by tabby »

I've done a lot of genealogical research over the years. I go through spells that range from intense interest to apathy then back to interest entirely dependent upon the amount & quality of new information. Sometimes I've gotten lucky and uncovered a mother lode of new facts and that always spurs me on to find more. The dry spells can be a little discouraging but there's always new information online so it pays to check back every so often.

Spellings of names can be tricky when looking at old records and especially with the colonial era documents. Also the older script can be difficult & tedious to decipher with Fs looking like Ss, etc.

It's great fun to put the pieces together in the greater context of history as it played out and I hope you find some interesting bits to keep you going with it!

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Oscar Namechange
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Doing your genealogy

Post by Oscar Namechange »

My brother paid a proffessional to trace our family... sadly, him and I have not come together long enough for me to sit down and go through It all which goes as far back as the 16th Century.... I hope to be able to do that In the summer....

There were no surprises apparently on my Father's side but apparently my Mother's side Is a bit of an eye opener....

I can't wait to see It all...
At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them. R.L. Binyon
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Týr
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Joined: Mon Oct 08, 2012 5:29 am

Doing your genealogy

Post by Týr »

One might as well pay someone to do one's jigsaw puzzle, the final result is equally useless. The only satisfaction in either, however minimal, is the doing.
Long Live General Kim Jong-un, the Shining Sun!
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Týr
Posts: 1218
Joined: Mon Oct 08, 2012 5:29 am

Doing your genealogy

Post by Týr »

I'll add a further thought for the thread since I've found it to be true in my own case.

A bare-bones ancestry tree is a tedious collection of uninteresting factoids, its sole purpose should be to coat-hanger all the gems of associated information you can flesh the skeleton out with. A surprising number may be named in wills which have lain unregarded for centuries in government files, it's wonderful how a period can be brought into focus by a couple of pages of description based on a will, or even several from the same village around the same generation.

Which side did various branches of your ancestors fight on in the Civil War, for example. You can build a timeline across a decade or two where mass interactions like that can be traced.
Long Live General Kim Jong-un, the Shining Sun!

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