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Month: July 2016

How to Properly Cite a Source.

How to Properly Cite a Source.

Not citing sources is one of the main downfalls the plagues amateur genealogists. It’s easy to forget to cite a Source when researching if you get in to the swing of things and are adding more than one fact to a person at once and yes, it seems tedious at first but once you start, it becomes second nature and will benefit you and anyone else looking at your tree in years to come.

Like the majority of people, when I first got in to genealogy my goal was to go as far back as possible (Within the time that my Ancestry trial ran out) and rest in the knowledge that I knew my ancestors names. However like a lot of people that trial quickly ended and I still needed to find out EVERYTHING ABOUT THEM TOO.

Because I’d blitzed through accepting every hint under the sun I now had a disorganised tree with various notes attached to different people that I couldn’t remember where I got them from.

First of all it helps to know what a source actually is. 

Most people use “source” and “fact” in the same way on their trees. However they are two very different things. A source is a document, snippet, photo or absolutely anything that is related to and enriches the profile of a particular ancestor or person. A fact is something that we know, a conclusion that we have come to based on the sources we have. A fact could be something simple like, the father of a child. We could have a birth certificate that doesn’t show in concrete the fathers name, i.e the fathers name is abbreviated and could be one of a few people. This would be a source but not a fact. We could then make this a fact by finding other sources related to the birth certificate like census’s or baptisms and when we have enough evidence we create the fact. A fact does not have to be sourced, but a description of how you came to the conclusion is often very helpful for others.

What should I cite in my source?

All a citation is at it’s core is information related to a Source that will allow you or someone else find the source again. There are five main parts to a good citation, but any other optional information needed that will help someone locate the record is worth noting.

  • Author: This may not always be applicable, i.e if you find an old hand written document in an attic and you don’t know who wrote it. But most of the time it will be clear who wrote or compiled the source.
  • Title: The title of the source could be the name of a book or a more generic “1891 Census”
  • Collection: This is what the record has been compiled with. For example if you were looking at a probate record in the UK it is probably from the “England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966″ 
  • Date: The date in which the records were recorded, for example “1911 Census”
  • Page: The page in the collection that the relevant information is on.
  • [Optional] Library or Archive Call Number
  • [Optional] Comments about the source, this could be observations which will help someone else find what they are looking for if it is not immediately clear.


Figuring Out Who Is In Old Photo’s

Figuring Out Who Is In Old Photo’s

Sometimes you might inherit photographs from family members that have passed away and not know who they are. My father inherited a box of old photographs from his grandmother, the problem is he doesn’t know who most of the really old ones are. When I scanned them all on to my computer I started to wonder who they were. So I tried to find ways of figuring out who they were. I’ll start with this photo of a family.

Unknown Family Photo
Unknown Family photo

The first thing you need to do is dissect as much information from the photo as possible. Here’s what I got:

  • Postcard Format, years ago people would send photo postcards to loved ones that were done in a studio and mounted on to a postcard. This postcard was from “Bert & Mabel” indicating the two adults names.
  • Postcard reads “To Flo &  Bill” indicating a close relationship to a couple with these names.
  • Children are all of similar age groups so the family would have had: A boy followed by two girls around 1-2 years in age difference, then another boy and another girl. This gives us an indication as to the general family group we are looking for.
  • Style of clothes, in my opinion the style would broadly be between 1905 and 1920.
  • Photographers name, this photo doesn’t contain a photographers name or stamp but if one was present then the date could be further narrowed down based on when he worked or even the negative number of the photo if present.
  • It can be helpful to contact a local historian who if there are markings or a photographers name on the photo. If there are negative numbers on the photo anywhere it can massively help to narrow the possible date range.

Secondly you need to apply that information to a family tree.

  • I know that this photo came from either my great grandmother Gladys Alice Cane’s side of my great grandfather Harold Juden’s side so that’s where I’ll start looking. My photos are more likely to be from the Cane side.
  • If I look through my Cane side I find that Gladys’ parents are William Cane and Florence Kate Wood which matches up with Bill and Flo.
  • One step further I can look through all of the siblings of William and Florence for a Bert or Mabel. I find that William has a brother called Albert and Florence has three brothers called, Ernest Albert, Gilbert and Herbert, giving me four possible leads.
  • All three of Florence Kate Wood’s brothers never married or died young. Leaving only Williams brother Albert.
  • Albert Cane married Mabel Devenish in 1902 and had seven children: Albert 1903, Ellen Louise 1905, Ethel 1907, Richard 1910, Nora Beatrice 1912, Patricia 1915 and Vera Alberta 1921.
  • As there are only five children in this photo it stands to reason that the last two girls haven’t been born yet. This puts the photo at before 1915. The youngest in the photo appears to be around two years old putting the photo at around 1913.

Once you have a hunch or a few possibilities and if you have a photo of any of their family members, cross compare them.

William Cane and Albert Cane
Cane Brothers

The above photo on the left is of William cane, my 2x Great Grandfather and the suspected brother Albert Cane. It’s hard not to be bias when looking for similarities in photo’s so a second opinion should be obtained. To me, the two men look remarkably similar based on facial features and the expression on their faces.

The family group in the photo matches pretty much perfectly with the information in my tree and so proves with very little doubt that this is the family in question.

6 Reasons Why a Fathers Name would be Missing from a Document

6 Reasons Why a Fathers Name would be Missing from a Document

Unfortunately sometimes you might come across a Birth, Christening, Adoption or any other vital record that has the fathers name omitted. Most of the time this will result in a massive brick wall that is nearly impossible to break down, so it’s important to find out why the fathers name was left off in the first place if you are to have any hope of finding out who he was. Some possible reasons are:

Reason 1: A fling

The mother might have had a fling with a man she just met which resulted in a child, the man might have been a traveler or just in the local area for a short while and might not have even known he had a child.

Reason 2: Sexual Assault

The child might have been conceived under much worse conditions, not every girl or family would have chosen to give up or abort the resulting child so would not have wanted the fathers name registered at birth.

Reason 3: A paternity suit

In the past it might have been the case that a father did not want to be on the birth certificate, due to circumstances such as being from a much more prominent or wealthy family. These families will have had a lot more power in courts of law and could have spent a lot of money protecting the families reputation.

The opposite could also be true. A female member of a wealthy family might have had a fling or relationship with a lower class man and they might have tried to cover it up with a quick marriage to another man or keeping the child a secret.

Reason 4: The child is illegitimate 

A child is labelled as ‘illegitimate’, ‘base born’ a ‘bastard’ or one of many more terms if they were born out of wedlock. This is in my experience the most common reason and is the easiest to break down too. This could be the case if the parents were in a relationship but were not married when the child was born. In the UK the parish records, i.e Birth, Christening, Marriage, Death, Burial records were recorded by the parish Vicar or Rector, in the eyes of the parents the child might have been legitimate but in the eyes of most Vicars only a child born to a married couple would be legitimate and depending on the Vicar the fathers name was almost never recorded.

Reason 5: The Father did not accept the child as his

A father might not have accepted a child as his own for a number of reasons:

  • It could be that the father genuinely did not believe that the child was his and that his wife or lover has not been faithful to him.
  • The father might have thought it was his but did not want the responsibility of a child and dismissed the notion of him being the father.
  • The child might have been born with a physical or psychological abnormality which the father did not want to be associated with.

Reason 6: The father was deceased

The registrar might have left the fathers name blank as to the child there would be no father in his life so there would be no point in listing his name on the certificate. It could also be the case that the father died soon after conception and the mother found another man and wants to keep it blank in the hopes that he will take on the child as his own.

6 Reasons You Should Join or Start a One Name Study.

6 Reasons You Should Join or Start a One Name Study.

Guild of One Name Studies (GOONS)

If you’ve ever stumbled across an unusual name in your research and ended up whacking it in to Google then you’ve probably come across The Guild Of One Name Studies (Goons). If not, it’s a Website that offers a different outlook to the conventional Family Tree. Rather than a focus on a particular members own tree, a One Name Study is exactly what it sounds like. All members of a One Name Study contribute to a common goal which involves a particular surname, this goal could be very broad like: “All instances of the Surname Barber and it’s variations wordwide” which would for obvious reasons be a massive project.

While the Guild insists that all studies be global in scope, it is perfectly acceptable to start with a smaller area like a US state or British county and build out from there, like for example the surname Juden in West Sussex. The techniques you learn on a small scale can then be applied similarly as the geographic scope widens. Some Guild members may choose to be global but restrict the time period on which they initially work and then extend backward or forward from there. There are plenty of reasons to join or start a One-Name Study.

Reason 1: A massive community of like minded individuals all contributing to a common goal.

The nature of a One Name Study tends to attract people that are less likely to be selfish in their studies and share any information and knowledge they might have. This could be in the form of sources, local history or general tips and tricks they have learnt themselves. This might in turn break down brick walls in your own family tree, or give you insights in to collections or sources you might otherwise have missed.Two Head sharing knowledge graphic

Reason 2: Guild Marriage Challenges.

A Guild Marriage Challenge is a project in which members will visit local archives in specific registration districts and look up marriages. This helps with eliminating the need to spend as much money on Marriage Certificates. Put in to real terms, if you were to only manage to find two records from these challenges then you’ve already paid for your subscription.Marriage Record For Pierre Louis Oscar Cordier

Reason 3: Discounted DNA Tests.

The Guild also offers discounted DNA Tests for all of its members. These tests are the same ones found on Family Tree DNA which include: YDNA 37 Marker and the Family Finder Autosomal test. Both can offer different insights in to your ancient ancestry.DNA Strand

Reason 4: Breaking down Brick Walls.

With the enormous wealth of knowledge the members of the Guild have you are certain to find someone that is interested in helping you break down a brick wall in a particular area, the solution might come from local knowledge that only a select few members know about or a search tip that leads you to the breakthrough source.Breaking down a Brick Wall

Reason 5: Free Profile Page on the Guild website.

With a free profile page you can get noticed by new and existing members with the same surname interests. Here you can add everything you know about your chosen surname and outline the goals of your project.

One Name Study Profile Page

Reason 6: Get more in depth knowledge of a surname. 

If for only this reason alone you join The Guild it will be worth it as you’ll actually have some verified history about the surname you choose complete with stats and sources to back your claims up.Juden surname page

How to Sort Ancestry Hints by Collection.

How to Sort Ancestry Hints by Collection.

One feature of Ancestry that puts it at the top of it’s field is it’s hint feature. However most users don’t know that you can actually sort these hints in to the collections that they are part of. Sorting by collection can be beneficial in a number of ways, I find that the most useful thing about it is that I am not distracted by other types of sources. I can search for one type of source and blitz through all of the hints in my tree and know that I have seen, for example all of the hints in the “England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966” collection and no longer have to worry (as much) about that particular source.

This style of searching can be very beneficial if you are quite particular about the way in which you organise your documents, as the most common downfall in my experience when researching a Family Tree is not having a direction or goal in mind. When you first start researching you will go off in tangents and discover brand new ancestors but when you already have a reasonably well populated tree you might find that you spend hours looking at random people and sources and not really progressing at all. Setting small goals helps to make the most of your time. For example you could decide you want to research all of the descendants of a particular person, or you might want to find all of your ancestors that served in the military. Let’s do that latter!

Step 1: Find the unique number related to the tree you are searching.

Tree Address

This can be found by going to the tree view and looking in the address bar at the URL. Just after the “/tree/” part of the URL is where you can find this number. My tree is number 72266092.

Step 2: Find the record collection you want to search by.

There are a few ways you can find the collection you want, the easiest way is to go to the Card Catalog on Ancestry and use the search criteria to find the one you’re after.

Ancestry Card Catalogue

Another way is to go to a source you have already linked to your tree and click the link underneath the person’s name that it is linked to or you have searched for.

Ancestry Source Page

Step 3: Finding the Unique Database ID for the collection.

Once you have found the collection you are after you need to check the address bar again for the “dbid” This is the unique number that corresponds to it. This is what we use to narrow down the search to only those sources. You can find this at the end of the URL.

Collection URL

So for the above URL I have chosen the “British Army WWI Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920” collection which has the database ID of “1262”

Step 4: Finally use a template URL to stitch together the Unique identifiers to find all the hints for one Collection in a certain Tree.

Paste in this template Link in to your address bar (Note that this is a link, if you are using the .com or another ancestry site then change that too)

Change the country code to the site you use, the unique numbers to your own tree and record collection and hit enter!

You will then be presented with the “All Hints” page populated with only the hints tat relate to that collection.

Ancestry All Hints Page

And that’s all there is to it! A simple way to find all of the hints in a single collection on any Ancestry site.