|Posted by Jody on September 27, 2010 at 8:36 PM|
Welcome to RINGS TRUE. I hope these informal postings will provide you with ideas to use in your own research be it family history or as a author. As a family historian for 18 years. I have learned there is not one sure way to find you ancestors. And with that you must remember that doing family research is much more than birth, marriages and deaths. After you have talked to the elder members of your family about their origins and stories. Don't discount those stories they can lead you to all kinds of information in your journey to understanding your family's past. Next you really should ask yourself the following questions.
Where did they live? Use good maps, this map for Scotland is a great source. Remember that borders are fluid so make sure you find a map for your period especially in the US where wars and populations changed borders.
What did they do? Look for list of occupations or companies records. Look to historical societies, family bibles, go to your local library because many will have access or knowledge about local businesses.
Who where their siblings? Look to cenus records where family units were listed. The US census are sparce until after 1850, but in Scotland they began in 1841, and England was a bit earlier, occuring every ten years. However, most countries use the 100 year rule so you can't get access for the records for 100 years. Which means that you will be able to access the 1911 census next year. Also in Scotland the ages on the first census can be off as much as 5 years in either direction because if they were after 5 they went up to the next 10, but if they their number ended with a number 5 or less they went back to 0. So a child who was 16 was listed as 20 and a child who was listed a 15 was listed 10.
Did they have a church affliation? Look to church records but remember in some location church record are lost or non existent, espeically if you are able to get your family as far back as the 1600's in England or Scotland. There were also times in places like Scotland during the reformation until the mid 1700's where Catholics didn't register their children's births because they were required to do so in the protestant Church of Scotland. Know the customs of the area and then look for your records.
Look to how your family names are passed down. In some places like Scotland the first son is named for his paternal grandfather, and the first daughter for her maternal grandmother, the next son for his maternal grandfather and next girl for her paternal grandmother , From there they are often named for their parents siblings or if Catholic, saints names. Also in Scotland most women didnt take their husband's surname after marriage so you need to check both surnames to find the correct family. Also at least in Scotland unless they were landed gentry or peers most families didn't give their children middle names until the early part of the 19th century. So if you find your ancestor with one it is especially helpful in sereaches.
Also it is help for every bit of information you learn that you keep a detailed record of the source, you never know when you may have to go back and look at it for reference, saves you time and sanity.
More info on family searches in the next post....