Family History Research

Benefits of CaseFile Clues

I wrote a post a few weeks ago about CaseFile Clues and my thoughts on it.  I also subscribed to the series. This weekend Michael John Neill extended his offer for Brick Walls A-Z so I took advantage and emailed asking for a copy.

This issue of CaseFile Clues is fantastic for researchers of all levels. This issue briefly describes many approaches researchers use to break down brick walls.

Want to move your research forward? Then look at “B” for Biography. Michael discusses how writing an ancestor’s biography will help you find gaps in your research. Do you know your history? Look at “H” for History where the reason for knowing the region’s history where your ancestor lived can help you locate more information. Can’t find what you want? Maybe because you are dealing with “O” for Out-of-Date. Look at the finding aids you are using to evaluate how recently they were updated. Is the information on the finding aid still valid?

Michael provides many more ways to break down your brick walls in this issue. He also uses many of these ideas in his CaseFile Clues series. Michael will show you exactly what he means by “A” is for Assumptions and how they can benefit a research and take away from locating information.

Subscribe to the series for a year. You will really enjoy the honest records based approach to working out a research problem.  After you subscribe to CaseFile Clues, the typically 7-9 pages PDF files, come straight to your E-mail inbox as they are released. Just download and read.

Now, this is one thing I really love about CaseFile Clues!! Because they are PDF files I am able to put a copy on my Barnes and Noble NOOK so I can take them anywhere! For example, I love being able to take my grade-school aged children to the library and while they roam around doing puzzles, looking for books and talking to the other kids, I can sit and read CaseFile Clues on my NOOK! This also comes in handy if I can really relate to a specific research problem Michael outlines because I don’t have to print that issue to take on a research trip with me. I just take along my NOOK and can refer back to that issue to see how Michael worked through a problem to help me move forward on mine.

Subscribe to CaseFile Clues through Michael’s website for $17 a year. Not sure if you want to subscribe? Michael will email you a free issue to review before you make a decision! Check it out!  You can also follow Michael on Twitter @mjnrootdig where he posts subscription specials and tips.

Do you subscribe to CaseFile Clues? Has something Michael wrote helped you in your research?  Post your comments below.

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NGS Home Study Course Update

I have blogged about the fact I’m working through the National Genealogical Society Home Study Course (NGS HSC). I’m two lessons away from finishing CD 1. I submitted a lesson last week which I now expect will be returned as incomplete and I’ll have to rewrite part of it. Here is the confusing part of the assignment and my take on it.

The assignment is basically this: Ask family about a family tradition using questions like these, “Who or what is the source of this tradition? How was it gathered? How much time has passed since this event is said to have occurred? What is the probability the event occurred?”

Then it goes on to say, “Write a brief account (½ to 1 page) of a family tradition that has been passed on ……  (Note: a family custom does not fulfill the objectives of this assignment. An example of a custom is that everyone gathers at Grandma’s house for dinner on Sunday.) Tell about the ancestors. Who were they? Where did they come from? What did they do? Include names, dates, and places that are part of the story. Evaluate the tradition. Tell the aspects you believe are accurate and which you suspect are not. Summarize research you have done to prove or disprove the tradition and research you plan to do.”

So according to online dictionaries, tradition is defined as the handing down of statements, beliefs, customs, legends, cultural practices through generations.  A custom is defined as a habitual practice.

I wrote about the fact my Czech family celebrates St. Nicholas Day. I discussed my mom’s side of the family celebrating it for several generations and how I heard it was celebrated. I continued by saying I participate in this tradition with my children.

Looking through the example submission on the course CD, the submission presented a family story about a great grandfather coming from England to the U.S. and marrying twice, the last time his housekeeper. It goes on to talk about land he owned and losing it in a gambling match.

I asked another genealogy colleague about this and we both wondered what the tradition was in this submission. Is it possible we all grow up thinking a custom is a tradition and vice versa when in fact we have the definitions confused?

So I ask you to join in the conversation. What do you think traditions and customs are? How do you define it? Can you give an example from your family? Please share your thoughts.

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Naturalization Records

Saturday I attended the DuPage County Genealogical Society Conference in St. Charles, IL. I heard John Philip Colletta talk about Naturalization Records and Advanced Problem Solving. It was fantastic.

One thing he mentioned was that those declaring their intentions to become citizens were not given a copy of their declaration. It was only in some cases where a person was maybe moving to a new area before final naturalization or wanted the record for a reason that a certified copy was provided.

After Colletta said this, I thought wow, really? This was strange because I have an original certified copy of my husband’s great grandfather’s Declaration of Intention. So now I’m making notes in my conference syllabus to investigate this. The great grandfather died before he was naturalized. Why he would want a copy of his Declaration? Was he planning on leaving Chicago? Did he need it for a specific reason?

Then I did a little research on the topic. I wonder if I mis-heard Colletta when he stated the people did not receive a copy. Maybe he meant before 1906? After 1906, those declaring were given a copy as the paperwork changed. It also raises the question, if the courts were not giving out copies of the Declaration, how could you just walk into another court and apply for final papers? Colletta made it clear several times you could declare and apply for final papers in any court and it did not have to be the same court. What was the process by which they verified you declared your intention?

I will have to look more into that. I did not find that answer in my brief research yesterday. If you have experience with this, please comment.

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Follow Friday – Genea-Musings Tuesday’s Tip Post

Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings had another great post a couple of weeks ago called Use LearnWebSkills.com for Online Genealogy Tutorial. Randy writes a great review of the site and explains how he best sees it used for individuals and genealogy societies.

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