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Research Methodology

Family History: From a Pile of Pieces to a Puzzle Picture

You’ve started your family history but the pieces don’t seem to fit and the jigsaw puzzle isn’t revealing a picture as you’d hoped.  Sometimes it’s just a matter of turning a piece in another direction or fitting it into a different place in the picture.  This lecture will provide the basics to get you started, taking that pile of pieces that don’t seem to fit and turning them into a finished product.

Creating A Strong Foundation for Your Family Research

Understanding the principles of good genealogical research will set you on the right path and allow you to build a foundation for your research.  This lecture lays out the Genealogical Proof Standard and looks at strategies for creating a strong family history project.

What’s the Plan?

Genealogical research always begins with a question.  Who were the parents of Michael Daly?  What was Ann Jane Martin’s mother’s maiden name?  From the question, we can develop a research plan to address the problem.  This is an iterative process which can help move your research along and break through some brick walls.

Who is the Head of this Household?

The shocking news is that the census was not created for genealogists!  In spite of that, the census taker gathered lots of genealogical information you’ll want to investigate.  Insight into why the census was created and how to use various finding aids will equip you to use these records wisely in your family search.

Immigration: Which Port? When? Why? From Where?

Which port?  When?  Why?  From where?  Questions surround the immigration process that made us all Americans.  If you’ve worked your way back to your immigrant ancestor, this lecture will help you find the spot from which he left and on which he landed.

Finding the Women in Your Family Tree

Prior to the 20th century, many women didn’t have an identity of their own. They were tangled with their father or husband and in some places, were not allowed to own real estate in their own names or to sign legal documents.  When they married their name changed, sometimes multiple times making them harder to find and so they frequently get listed in genealogies by their given name and an approximate date of birth and death.  They have been referred to as our “invisible ancestors.”  This lecture looks at strategies to identify and write about our female ancestors.

The Genealogical Proof Standard: What is it and Why is it Important?

It’s important to know where you’re going, whether you’re just beginning your genealogical journey, or have been researching for a while.  So here’s an analogy.   Just like the GPS in your car, the Genealogical Proof Standard, or your genealogical GPS is an important basic concept.  If you understand it, it will work for you and help you to be a more effective and efficient researcher.

Preparing for a Research Trip:  Here or Abroad

Hopefully the time will come when you have enough information to begin planning a trip to your ancestral homeland.   Knowing the exact place is key to your success as borders may have changed since your ancestor’s emigration.  The key to your success is starting with yourself and working back, finding all of the records left by your ancestor, as well as their extended family, associates and neighbors.

Updated 3-1-2021

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