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More Links

# Tuesday, 30 June 2015
Search for Early New England Ancestors FREE in NEHGS' Great Migration Databases
Posted by Diane

In honor of the United States' July Fourth holiday, the New England Historic Genealogical Society is offering a week of free access to its Great Migration online databases at starting July 1. You'll need to set up a free guest registration with the site.

Rejoice if your ancestors were among the first Europeans to settle in New England: The Great Migration Study Project, sponsored by NEHGS and directed by Robert Charles Anderson, traces the 20,000 Europeans who crossed the Atlantic from 1620 to 1640.

(The term "Great Migration" also is used to describe another migration, the African-American migration from the South in the early- to mid-20th century.)

The nine searchable Great Migration databases include:
  • The Great Migration Begins: This database gives details on settlers in New England in 1633 and earlier. This is roughly 15 percent of the Great Migration immigrants.
  • The Great Migration Newsletter: This database contains comprises volumes 1 through 20 of the "Great Migration Newsletter," published between 1990 and 2011. Each newsletter includes articles, book reviews, and details on useful records or one of the towns settled during the Great Migration.
  • The Great Migration: Immigrants to New England, 1634-1635, Vols. I-VII (A-Y): Up to 2,500 people immigrated in 1634 and again in 1635. These seven databases cover surnames starting with letters A through Y, and provide information such as the family or individual's name, place of origin, date and ship of arrival, and the earliest known record naming the person or family. Search results link to a sketch about the person or family from the Great Migration book series.
NEHGS' Great Migration databases are free to search from Wednesday, July 1, through July 8. Click here to sign up for a free guest registration to, then start searching.

You can read more here about the Great Migration Study Project, including about the books and databases this research has produced. The project is scheduled for completion in 2016. Learn here about the migration itself and the types of records researchers consult.

NEHGS resources are invaluable for researching your early New England roots. These and other records are covered in the guidebook Researching Your Colonial New England Ancestors by Patricia Law Hatcher and our Top 25 Tips for Finding Your Colonial Ancestors on-demand webinar with D. Joshua Taylor.

Genealogy Web Sites | immigration records
Tuesday, 30 June 2015 08:57:22 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 26 June 2015
"Who Do You Think You Are?" Returns for a Summer 2015 Season
Posted by Diane

This is a nice surprise: "Who Do You Think You Are?" is returning for a summer season on TLC starting Sunday, July 26 at 9/8 central. Famous folks whose ancestries we'll learn about include:
  • Tom Bergeron, host of "Dancing With the Stars" and "America's Funniest Home Videos." He'll go all the way back to his 10th-great-grandmother and his family's migration to North America.
  • Bryan Cranston, the actor who played the dad on "Malcolm in the Middle" and is Walter White on "Breaking Bad." Update: TLC's original announcement hinted at Cranston's discovery of an "unfortunate pattern amongst the men" in his family, but the show's publicist sent an update that the episode will focus on the actor's Civil War roots.
  • Ginnifer Goodwin, Mary Margaret/Snow White on "Once Upon a Time." She learns more about her paternal great-grandparents, whom her father doesn't know much about.
  • Alfre Woodard, television actor in "The Last Ship" and "State of Affairs" and film actor in 12 Years a Slave. She follows her paternal side and explores where her surname came from. She's also the first African-American on the series in a few seasons—I think since Jerome Betis in 2012, when the show was still on NBC.
Shed Media and Is or Isn't Entertainment produce "Who Do You Think You Are?" for TLC, and sponsor provides research on the celebrity guests' ancestors. (You'll learn the "Who Do You Think You Are?" genealogy researchers' secrets in Family Tree Magazine's upcoming Summer 2015 Discover Your Roots guide—I'll share the link as soon as the guide becomes available in

The next season of "Who Do You Think You Are?" starts July 26. You can watch clips from past seasons on the show's website.

"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Genealogy TV
Friday, 26 June 2015 09:39:45 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [6]
# Thursday, 25 June 2015
PBS Postpones "Finding Your Roots" Due to Ben Affleck's "Improper" Influence
Posted by Diane

PBS has decided to postpone future seasons of the Henry Louis Gates documentary genealogy series "Finding Your Roots" after determining that celebrity guest Ben Affleck improperly influenced producers to leave out a reference to his slave-owning ancestors. PBS also concluded that Gates should have informed the network "of Mr. Affleck’s efforts to affect program content."

The network wants producers to hire another fact-checker and independent genealogist before airing the third season, and won't commit to a fourth season "until we are satisfied that the editorial standards of the series have been successfully raised to a level in which we can have confidence." The episode profiling Affleck's ancestry will no longer be distributed.

The 2014 hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment uncovered emails between Gates and Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton, made public in April,  in which the two discussed Affleck's request to remove a segment mentioning that his ancestors were slave owners.

Both "Finding Your Roots" and TLC's "Who Do You Think You Are?" have identified slave owning ancestors of other celebrities.

PBS launched an internal review after the emails were made public. Gates said that producers decided to omit Affleck's slave ancestors after determining that other relatives were more interesting. Affleck posted on Facebook that he was embarrassed by his family's slave-owning past, but that Gates ultimately determined the episode's content. (The show also said Affleck's mother was a Freedom Rider in 1964 during the Civil Rights movement, a claim she has said isn't true.)

The episode was the subject of much discussion in the genealogy community and beyond, raising issues including America's ability to deal with its slaveholding past, the editorial integrity of Gates' research team and the veracity of historical documentaries and reality series in general.

This New York Times article has a good overview of the events. This Variety article has more details on the internal review.

Genealogy TV
Thursday, 25 June 2015 09:56:53 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [5]
# Wednesday, 24 June 2015
Google for Genealogy: Finding Ancestral Inventions With Patent Search
Posted by Diane

Our upcoming Google for Genealogy Family Tree University online course shows you how to use Google search tricks and free resources to research your family history. For example, have you searched for your surnames in Google Patents?

This search engine indexes patents and patent applications from the United States Patent and Trademark Office back to 1790, and the European Patent Office and World Intellectual Property Organization back to 1978.

You might not think there's an inventor in your family tree, but people applied for patents on all kinds of innovations, from an alarm clock that hangs above the sleeper and falls on his face if he doesn't wake up (Patent No. 256,265, April 11, 1882) to a screen attachment for ladies' bicycles to hide their feet and ankles from view (Patent No. 557,488, March 31, 1896).

My first cousin five times removed Ben Teipel of Covington, Ky., was a wingshooter (I apologize if this isn't the right term for a practitioner of the sport of wingshooting) and an employee of the Ligowsky Clay Pigeon Co. Newspapers reported on his performance in competitions, and one (when he was committed to an asylum shortly before his death) called him the "ex-champion wing shot of the world."

Ben patented a few devices for use with clay target pigeons. This is an illustration of his Target Trap, Patent No. 329,974, issued Nov. 10, 1885:

A much more recent relative's name is on the patent application for this Positioning Assembly for Valve Closure Members:

My dad, a mechanical engineer, is named as the inventor on the patent, issued Nov. 25, 1975.

You can keyword-search the patents' text (indexed by optical character recognition software) the same way you'd do any Google search. The Advanced Patent Search makes it easy to add the patent number, filing or issue date (with a range) and/or other search terms. I entered my family surnames in the Inventor field, and to narrow results, I added a place in the "With all of the words" box.

The Google for Genealogy online course runs Monday, June 29, to Monday, July 24, and covers Search, Books, Translate, Google+, Drive and more. See a course program at

Family Tree University | Research Tips
Wednesday, 24 June 2015 15:51:24 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
New Heredis 2015 Genealogy Software Offers Major Updates for Windows and Mac
Posted by Diane

Heredis genealogy software has released a major upgrade with Heredis 2015 for Windows or Mac users.

New features include:
  • Online searching: From a person's profile, launch searches of online collections in archives and libraries (Heredis suggests which ones to search based on information in your tree). Automatically capture details from online finds and save them to your tree.  to search according to
  • Images: A new photo tool allows you to identify people in images uploaded to Heredis, and if a person isn't in your tree yet, add him or her directly from the photo tool. You also can capture images of ancestors' signatures from records, edit record images and photos uploaded to Heredis, and create and share slideshows and online albums (shown above).
  • Data entry: You can enter an event (such as a census appearance) once and easily apply it to the rest of the family as needed, instead of entering that same event for each person named in a record.
  • Mapping: View interactive maps showing where your ancestors lived and scroll their geographical migrations by place or time period.
Learn more about the new features in Heredis 2015 and see screenshots for the Windows version here and the Mac version here.

Windows users can upgrade for $19.99, or purchase the complete version for $29.99. Mac users  can purchase version 2015 for $24.99 until July 12, when the price goes up to $49.99.

Heredis also has a free app for the iPad/iPhone that lets you view your tree and add or delete individuals, and is working on an Android version.

You can see reviews of previous Heredis versions and other genealogy programs in Family Tree Magazine's Online Genealogy Software Guide.

Genealogy Software
Wednesday, 24 June 2015 14:21:02 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 23 June 2015
FamilySearch Launches Project to Index Freedmen's Bureau Records
Posted by Diane

FamilySearch on Friday announced a new initiative to index records of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, also known as the Freedmen's Bureau.

This agency was set up after the Civil War to assist former slaves with food, housing, education, medical care, employment and legal needs. The bureau also documented marriages performed during slavery and helped displaced white Southerners.

This work created records such as labor contracts (such as the one above for freedman John Ramsey and his wife), court documents, marriage registers, correspondence, applications for aid, complaint reports and more.

For many formerly enslaved people, their interaction with the Freedmen's Bureau was the first time they were named in official records—making Freedmen's Bureau records an important resource for tracing African-American ancestors.

FamilySearch, along with the National Archives and Records Administration, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Afro­-American Historical and Genealogical Society, and the California African American Museum, has launched the Freedmen's Bureau Project to mobilize volunteer indexers. They'll view digitized images of Freedmen's Bureau records and extract names and other details, creating a searchable index that will be free on

You can sign up as an indexer for the Freedmen's Bureau Project here.

On, you already can view the digitized records for Freedmen's Bureau offices in 14 Southern states and Washington, DC, as well as records of bureau headquarters and hospitals. Find them by going to the FamilySearch collection list and typing freedmen in the Filter by Collection Name box at top left. But as yet only a few of FamilySearch's Freedmen's Bureau collections are indexed. As the Freedmen's Bureau Project gains momentum, look for more of these records to become searchable.

Can't wait? subscribers can search digitized and indexed records for Freedmen's Bureau field offices in five states plus New Orleans and Washington, DC, as well as headquarters records related to six states. 

If you're not a member or those don't cover the places your ancestors lived, use the Mapping the Freedmen's Bureau tool to find digitized or microfilmed records for bureau offices in your ancestors' locales. Find more on Freedmen's Bureau records and other resources for tracing enslaved ancestors in our Slave Ancestors Research Guide.

FamilySearch announced the project on Juneteenth, the commemoration of the end of slavery that takes place on June 19.

African-American roots | FamilySearch | Research Tips
Tuesday, 23 June 2015 10:54:20 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 17 June 2015
Beginner Genealogy Tips: Where to Look for Great Ancestor Stories
Posted by Diane

One of my favorite aspects of genealogy is finding a good story. Maybe an ancestor took part in an historical event, clawed his way to economic success, survived an arduous migration or even committed a crime. The kinds of things you might see on an episode of "Who Do You Think You Are?"

If you're getting started in genealogy, you might think there's no excitement in your family tree—but there probably is if you look for it. These are some of the best family story sources (and I'll tell you where they've led me to juicy family history details):
  • Newspapers: Probably like many of you, I never thought my family was particularly newsworthy. But I've found news items including a brief mention of a small kitchen fire in my third-great-grandfather's home, reports on my Federal League baseball player relative's performance on the field, a very complimentary profile of my grandfather after his graduation from an orphanage, and a sordid tale of another third-great-grandfather's stabbing during a fight over a woman (one day I'll blog about that guy).

    Digitized newspaper sites include the free Chronicling America and subscription-based GenealogyBank and Visit your library or state archive to scroll local papers on microfilm.
  • Military pension applications: I haven't yet had the pleasure of paging through a family member's military pension papers, but in our "What's in a Civil War Pension File?" video class, military records expert Diana Crisman Smith explains how you could find correspondence about military service, documentation of marriage, written testimony about wounds received, photos and more.

    Subscription site and have indexes and some record images for Revolutionary War, War of 1812,
    Mexican War and Civil War pensions. Some of the record images are on's sister site Fold3, which requires an additional subscription (your library or local FamilySearch Center may offer free use of and Fold3).

  • Family papers: Diaries, letters, postcards, scrapbooks, photos, baby books and other passed-down items from trunks, closets and attics hold "everyday life" details and stories you won't find anywhere else. Go through your house (and your relatives' houses, if they'll let you) for these home sources and examine them for clues. Once your relatives start to see you as "the family historian," these types of items—which many people don't necessarily want to store, but don't want to throw out either—may very well come knocking on your door. Advice for digitally archiving and preserving these sources is in the book How To Archive Family Keepsakes by Denise Levenick. 
  • Histories: I've found profiles of relatives (including yet another third great-grandfather) and a story about a tornado hitting a relative's farm (a journalist was having dinner with the family when it happened). These secondary sources may contain errors because they're usually based on recollections and were edited for print, but they're full of research clues. Local and county histories are often digitized on Google Books (here's a step-by-step Google Books tutorial you can download from and start using right away), Internet Archive,, (some FamilySearch digitized books are accessible only from a FamilySearch Center) or your library's website. Find print versions through WorldCat and in local libraries. 
  • Censuses: Your basic census records offer clues such as school attendance (1850-on), the value of his property or home (1850-1870 and 1940), whether the household included slaves (1790-1860); how many children a woman had and how many were still living (1900 and 1910); and whether any household members had visual, hearing or other impairments (1840-1910). Don't overlook these columns, which may prompt you to dig for the story behind the number. Free sites with census records include (some search results link to record images on subscription sites) and; and also have census records and images.
    Some federal censuses also were accompanied by special schedules for certain populations, such as "Defective, Dependent and Delinquent" classes (1880) and owners of industry/manufacturing businesses (1810-1820, few of which survive, and 1850-1880). Many of these records are on | census records | court records | FamilySearch | Libraries and Archives | Military records | MyHeritage | Newspapers | Research Tips | saving and sharing family history
Wednesday, 17 June 2015 11:06:43 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Friday, 12 June 2015
Genealogy News Corral: June 8-12
Posted by Diane

FamilySearch | Genealogy Events | Genealogy Web Sites | Maps
Friday, 12 June 2015 13:35:27 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 11 June 2015
10 Ways to Leverage Evernote for Your Genealogy Research
Posted by Diane

After every Family Tree Magazine issue closes, we have byproducts, mostly digital but some on paper: lineups, manuscripts, edited manuscripts, photos, illustrations, emails, contracts, invoices, proofs, storyboards (showing what’s on each page of the issue), and so on. All these pieces can make a mess.

Genealogy researches also produces byproducts. You have notes, papers, books, lists, websites, record images, family photos, heirlooms, stories, spreadsheets, correspondence and more. How do you keep all these disparate materials organized and easy to find again?

The free Evernote software is the answer lots of genealogists swear by. If you need an organizational solution and you’ve never used Evernote—or you’ve never used it for genealogy—take a look at our Evernote for Genealogy Bootcamp, happening June 22-29. Participants will explore these and other ways to leverage Evernote for genealogy research: 

  • Take notes while researching or attending a genealogy lecture, and tag your notes with surnames, subjects, ancestral places, record types, etc. Retrieve the notes you want with a keyword search or by using the tags you’ve assigned.

  • Keep lists of surname variations or books you need, and set up a correspondence log or genealogy to-do list. You can set a reminder so a particular note rises to the top of your notes at a predetermined time. 
  • Set up a research plan for a genealogy problem (here's how). 
  • Forward emailed genealogy correspondence to Evernote, and messages turn into notes with the email subject line as the note’s title.
  • Use the Evernote web clipper to save records from genealogy websites or portions of family history websites (helpful because websites can change and disappear, taking the information you need with them).
  • At the library, use your smartphone camera to take photos of records you’re viewing on the microfilm reader or in bound volumes. Save the images to notes in Evernote, and add source information to the notes.
  • Let Evernote's optical character recognition software index digitized documents so they're searchable. 
  • Use the Skitch app to annotate record images and photos in Evernote (you could send your cousin a version of an old photo identified with captions right on the image).
  • Share notebooks with others to collaborate on your genealogy.
  • Access your notes, images and to-do list from your desktop computer, laptop, tablet computer or smartphone.

The Evernote for Genealogy Bootcamp online workshop gives you an all-access pass to six video classes about techniques for using Evernote as a genealogy research tool (the videos are yours to download and watch whenever you want). You'll also get guidance from Evernote expert Kerry Scott and chat with fellow participants via the conference message board.

You can see the workshop program and get registered at FamilyTree

Family Tree University | Research Tips
Thursday, 11 June 2015 09:17:44 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 09 June 2015
A Census Search Trick for Hard-to-Find Ancestors
Posted by Diane

Last week, I mentioned that I couldn't find my Norris family in the 1870 census, despite searching every which way for my third-great-grandfather Edward Norris and other members of the household.

I spoke too soon. That night I went home and tried a strategy we often recommend in Family Tree Magazine, including in our US Census Workbook (available in Find a neighbor, then browse. And it worked.

One way to browse census records is to figure out which census enumeration district (ED) the person lived in, then page through schedules covering that ED. But the right ED isn't always the easiest to find. This strategy worked better for me:

1. I looked in city directories for my ancestor's address in 1870, or as close to 1870 as I could get. The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County Virtual Library has the digitized 1870 Williams' Cincinnati Directory (as well as many other years) for free. Here he is (misnamed Edwin), at 368 Broadway, the same address where he died in 1890.

2. Now to find a neighbor to search for in the census. The city directory was a PDF on the library website. I hit command-F to bring up the Find window and typed 368 Broadway. Here's a neighbor, Caroline Niehouse:

3. I searched the 1870 census for the neighbor. I got only four results, one of which was Caroline "Nichaus." Here's her family:

4. I started browsing the census pages—and then stopped. When I moved up the page, my ancestor's household was just above Caroline's. I recognized the first names and Edward's occupation, stonemason:

The enumerator's handwriting is lovely, but I don't think I ever would've read "Norris" from this:

The family is indexed as "Nalas." I added an annotation with the correct name in, so it'll be easier to find. "Nalas" family members probably were included in my results when I was searching for names, but Irish Edwards, Elizabeths and Catherines being quite common, I had a ton of results and didn't click on these particular matches.

If you ever do need to find a census ED, One Step Web Pages by Stephen P. Morse has tools to help you find EDs for 1880 through 1940, plus 1870 in New York. (Scroll down to the Census section.) You'll need to know the house number and street, and it helps to know cross streets.

census records | Research Tips
Tuesday, 09 June 2015 17:06:56 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [5]
# Thursday, 04 June 2015
Your Key to Saving 40% on Genealogy How-to Books, Cheat Sheets & More
Posted by Diane

If you've had your eye on a genealogy how-to book, cheat sheet, video or article download in ...

It's time to pounce.

With our Friends & Family Sale, going on now through Sunday, June 7, in, you'll save 40 percent on your purchase when you enter discount code FFSUMMER40 at checkout.

You could pick up Denise Levenick's new book How to Archive Family Photos or preorder the Unofficial Guide to You may find the German Genealogy Cheat Sheet as handy as I have, or need a little help from Blaine Bettinger Using DNA To Solve Family Mysteries.

You even could get our 15 Years of Family Tree Magazine DVD, normally $99.99, for just $60. Then you could keyword-search every Family Tree Magazine issue back to vol. 1, No. 1, in January 2000, and click to read the expert advice. You could finally clear some shelves—a thin DVD takes up a lot less space than 15 years of magazines (ask your genealogical society or library if they could use those back issues).

There are a few exclusions to the sale: magazine subscriptions, live webinar registrations (but on-demand webinars do get the discount), and products that ship directly from a third-party manufacturer.

In review: Great genealogy stuff. 40 percent off. Discount code FFSUMMER40. Ends this Sunday, June 7.

Start shopping (and saving) here! Sales
Thursday, 04 June 2015 12:05:30 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Search 40,000 Bible Records Free in the DAR's Genealogical Research System
Posted by Diane

The National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) has added a new resource to its Genealogical Research System (the online indexes that let you search for Patriots and other ancestors named in DAR member applications). Now you also can name-search 40,000 (and growing) records and transcriptions from family Bibles.

Most of the records come from DAR Genealogical Research Committee (GRC) Reports. Here's a sample of search results:

You'll get a description of the Bible with the name you searched highlighted; life dates or a birth, marriage or death year for the person; and source information about the GRC report that provided the name.

If the GRC report contained multiple names from the same Bible page, you'll be able to click a page number to see the other names from that page. You also can click to search for the GRC report in the DAR online library catalog.

GRCs collected a range of genealogical data, and you may find relatives in the database even if your family wasn't around during the American Revolution. My Seeger search resulted in people born from 1842 to 1850 (no relatives, unfortunately). In the results shown above, Norris Cotton and his wife were born in 1913 and 1916, respectively.

The Genealogical Research System is free to search. To order a copy of a report containing your relative's name, you can use the DAR Library's Search Service.

Click here to search DAR's new Bible records index.

Free Databases | Genealogy societies | Genealogy Web Sites | Research Tips
Thursday, 04 June 2015 09:46:39 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 03 June 2015
What Genealogy Records Might You Find in a Courthouse?
Posted by Diane

If you're trying to figure out a genealogy problem or trace an elusive ancestor, the answer might be in court records. Court records are so varied, and organized in different ways in different places, and usually unindexed, that they can be hard to find and use.

Our Courthouse Research Premium collection has the guidance you need to find these and other types of courthouse records:
  • Early vital records: Counties often stored birth and death registers at the courthouse before states took over vital record-keeping.
  • Probate records: Wills, estate inventories, settlement papers, guardianship appointments and more
  • Deeds: contracts transferring ownership of land and sometimes property (including enslaved humans)
  • Tax lists: registers of those who payed property, poll and other taxes
  • Naturalization records: before 1906, immigrants could file for naturalization with any court—local, state or federal
  • Case files: testimony, evidence, subpoenas and other records relevant to civil or criminal court cases
  • Dockets: schedule of the court's hearings 
  • Minutes: a brief record of the actions for the court for each day
  • Manumissions: documents freeling slaves
  • Orders: record of cases heard and judgments to be carried out
  • Military discharge records: many returning servicemembers would file their discharge records with the county courthouse, a potential substitute if your ancestor's service records were destroyed in the 1973 fire at the National Personnel Records Center
  • Licenses: such as for businesses, medical practitioners or dog owners
Sometimes you can find these records digitized (though rarely searchable) on courthouse websites or FamilySearch has microfilmed court records for many counties (run a place search of the catalog here); you can rent the microfilm for viewing at your local FamilySearch Center. You may need to send a request or visit the courthouse, which—if you're allowed to search the records yourself—can lead to unexpected finds hidden away in files and bound volumes.

The Courthouse Research Premium collection includes on-demand webinars, the Family Tree Sourcebook e-book and other downloads to help you find use genealogy records from the courthouse. It includes advice you'll need for visiting and navigating your ancestral county courthouse, which can be a somewhat initimidating proposition (as I learned a couple of years ago). Take a look at what's in the Courthouse Research Premium collection today in

court records | Research Tips | Sales
Wednesday, 03 June 2015 14:34:59 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Tuesday, 02 June 2015
Confessing a Genealogy Mistake
Posted by Diane

I was trying to make the research mistake I'm about to confess seem less odious because, well, I don't want you to hold it against Family Tree Magazine, but then I realized that's counter to my point that anyone can make a mistake. Conflicting records contributed to my error, but so did I, by relying on others' research including (gasp!) information found in an online tree. Here goes:

My third-great-grandfather Edward Norris was an Irish immigrant and a stonecutter in Cincinnati. I had him born in 1827, based on his age of 33 in the 1860 census. He was 40 in the 1880 census, but that would make him only 10 was he was married May 22, 1850 (the date on his digitized marriage license, restored after a Cincinnati courthouse fire in 1884 destroyed the original), and 13 when his first child was born in 1853. I can't find the family's 1870 census record.

His death date in my family tree for years was Feb. 15, 1911. That's the date my late aunt recorded back before online genealogy took off. It's in the burial index of St. Joseph "New" cemetery, where his wife and several children are buried.

An image of the corresponding burial card (not shown), which I found in a distant cousin's online tree, gives Edward's death and burial dates, age, and his late residence in the City Infirmary (his wife died in 1897).

This Edward Norris died at age 78, putting his birth in 1833. (This would have him married at 17, and age 20 when his first child was born.)

I busied myself with other research, but eventually it dawned on me that I couldn't find Edward in the 1900 or 1910 census, or any city directories after 1890. Nor could I find an official death record or an obituary. A death in Ohio in 1911 should appear in city registers or a state death certificate (these begin in 1908 in Ohio), or both.

Then I found this in the Cincinnati Enquirer, March 12, 1890.

The death announcement reads "Suddenly, Edward Norris, Sr., at his late residence, 368 Broadway. High mass at St. Xavier Church, Thursday morning, March 13, at 7:45."

His address is 368 Broadway in the 1880 census and in this 1889 city directory (digitized in the Cincinnati library's Virtual Library):

A county death register (digitized as part of this collection on also gives this address. The death date is March 12, 1890, when Edward was 56 (so, born in 1834):


The cause, "congestion of brain," is a swelling that could've resulted from the accidental fall referred to in this index card, created years ago from city death registers:

A fall is consistent with the "suddenly" description in the newspaper announcement. The death date is March 10 (not 12). The burial place is St. Joseph Old, another cemetery (Edward isn't in that cemetery's online index, though I've heard from other local researchers the index is incomplete. Looks like a visit is in order).

I'm pretty confident I was wrong all those years about when Edward died. In hindsight, the 1911 burial card has no family names or address to help identify him. The card may have been for another Edward Norris, a common name, although I can't find a death record for that person. I wonder if someone recorded the wrong date on the burial card (though mistaking 1890 for 1911 is hard to imagine). So there's still a mystery.

In our video class 12 Ways to Diagnose (and Treat) Errors in your Research, available in, you'll learn ways to recognize and treat such errors. Takeaways from my experience include:
  • Always seek the original record, and then evaluate the information that potentially identifies it as your ancestor's record.
  • Know how you arrived at each "fact" about your ancestor. If you got there with help from another person's research, examine how that person came to the conclusion he or she reached. Citing sources is an important part of this process.
  • Look for multiple records about the same event, and pay attention to the little alarms that go off in your head when records don't match up.

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Tuesday, 02 June 2015 09:29:01 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [5]