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View Diary: The Genealogist Who Could not Search, or Find Himself (48 comments)

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  •  Ole Texan - (7+ / 0-)

    I don't know much about doing research in TX since I'm on the opposite end of the country...

    However, the FIRST instruction in any genealogy research is to start with yourself.  You really should put the data in a genealogy program.  Once you get going on any of this, it's difficult to remember details for so many people (I have thousands now, but I've branched out to doing research on ancestors of people who married into my family, too).

    I assume you have your birth certificate.  Your parents should each be listed on that (including the birth name and age/date/location of birth of your mother).  Get the birth certificates of each of your parents, then great-grandparents, and so on.  Get marriage license (if it exists) info for each (often parental names are listed on those, along with date and location of birth).

    If your parents (grandparents, gr-grandparents, and on back) had siblings, get their birth certificates, marriage licenses, death certificates.  Sometimes, to get to your direct info you have to detour through siblings or their spouses to get back to the primary point directly affecting you.  All those certificates are expensive.  If you're lucky, the index info (including the parental names, etc.) are on web sites. is a paid web site, but oddly enough, even (free, mostly, some links to paid web sites) is putting images of original documents online, and for free (totally amazed me, but two different states I never expected to find info in had microfilm images of some of my s-i-l's ancestors for free downloads; how much data is online depends on many factors).

    In both cases, you have to be aware some transcribers don't see well and other cases of illegible handwriting make transcriptions of census data really odd.  I now work exclusively from original documents when I can get them since I can decipher odd and old handwriting in four languages.  I trust my own transcriptions after half a century of doing genealogy research.  Then there's the problem of enumerators who either didn't know how to spell or were dyslexic.  Uff da!  If you're lucky, you will at least be able to understand the images.

    Start with the 1940 census, then go to the 1930, 1920, 1910, 1900 censuses.  You can find out names and locations of birth for each person, plus - back far enough - there is info for number of children a woman has given birth to, how many still living, number of years married.  If any are immigrant ancestors, the year of immigration will be listed (not always correctly, but within one or two years if it's not correct).  1900 census is the first time anyone was asked for a month & year of birth (mostly they're correct).  Ages were asked for several decades before and always after that.

    1890 census burned in a fire.  The only part of that census year that survives are Veteran Schedules for those who served in the Civil War (they were kept in a different location).

    1880, 1870, 1860, 1850 census has names and ages of all family members.  Earlier census info has name of head of household and number of people in age brackets, and the earliest census info for 1790 has name of head of household and number of males and females in the household.  Not a lot of info, but it's something.

    I sense you're more interested in the more recent family history surrounding your parents and grandparents..., not the far distant ancestors, but if you want to find out what led up to your situation, you may need to go one or two or three generations previous to your birth to find out what led up to you.

    I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

    by NonnyO on Wed Aug 29, 2012 at 02:23:40 AM PDT

    •  tincy correction (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cassandracarolina, edwardssl

      It is a misconception that the 1890 census "burned in a fire." The fire was in another part of the building, but when the fire got put out, naturally, the water, following the law of gravity, goes the basement...where all the census schedules were stored...where the 1890 census was on the bottom shelves. Much of the 1890 census was damaged though much was recoverable; however, Congress, in its infinite wisdom, didn't want the census schedules to be incomplete, so it ordered the entire 1890 census destroyed. Only a few schedule books in a few places survived to by archived on microfilm and that was via duplicates kept at regional offices. Over 99% is gone aside from the Veterans Census you mention.

      "Lesbian and gay people are a permanent part of the American workforce, who currently have no protection from the arbitrary abuse of their rights on the job." --Coretta Scott King

      by craigkg on Wed Aug 29, 2012 at 04:59:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Hi NonnyO, thank you (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      edwardssl, NonnyO

      for this information. I am sure somewhere it will come in handy to me.

      One of the first advises I got when I joined the genealogy group here on Dkos was that I should always keep a safe place or file for my materials related to anything I do in my searches. Your first paragraph resonate with that advise. I am sure you are absolutely correct NonnyO.

      I really am just a wanna-be genealogist who knows next to nothing about finding records. I am learning though, slowly but surely. When you mention that getting records that I seek are pretty expensive, well that issue also came up in a recent discussion I had about not wanting

      I do not plan on spending sums of money for documents to learn who the grandparents of the grandparents of my grandparents were, only to find out about issues I seek that are just around the corner in 1936 when I was born. I know this comment sound a tad sarcastic and probably rude after all your appreciated effort to come in and give me good advise. I promise you that I respect your knowledge and am only telling you why in my next paragraph.

      I only say this because I simply cannot afford to even pay for a subscription to, so I rely on the free online search engines of and recently These engines have been good to me for what I need.

      But this does not mean I am not paying attention to your comment. Yours is one of the finest and informative ones that I have read today. I can only regret that you are so far away and cannot join my team here in Texas. With your expertise I am sure I could go far in this field and almost positive that you could resolve my problem. Wherever you are NannoO, let it be known that I am very grateful for your input to my diary.

      Please feel free to continue writing in this space. I really would like to know you better and how your mind works in genealogy.

      Thank you NonnyO

      Old men tell same old stories

      by Ole Texan on Wed Aug 29, 2012 at 11:30:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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