31 Days to Better Genealogy: Day 6 – Version 2.0
I’m taking Amy Johnson Crow’s challenge for 31 Days to Better Genealogy and blog Amy’s questions, with my answers; I plan to make one blog post, adding daily. Hopefully by the end of the 31 days, I will learn how to better solve some of my genealogy questions. If you haven’t signed up yet, just click on the link below… never too late to catch up!
31 Days to Better Genealogy by Amy Johnson Crow gives you practical steps to make your research more productive. Whether you are just beginning to climb your family tree or have been doing this for years, you can adapt the tips and methods in 31 Days to Better Genealogy to suit your needs.
31 Days to Better Genealogy – Day 6 – Read a Case Study
Today Amy is asking us to read a case study to learn how records and methods are used in genealogy to stitch records together. A case study doesn’t have to be about your ancestor in order to learn; you can learn how to possibly solve your own brick-walls by reading case stories on others and taking note of what sources they utilized.
How to Get the Most Out of a Case Study:
- While reading the “case study”, pay attention to how the researcher used records to solve problems.
- What source records were used; you find that by reading the source citations.
- Google a case study on the exact topic you are researching.
- Utilize genealogy blogs; read how others solve problems
Using Amy’s bullet points, I chose to read her suggested “case study” by Elizabeth Shown Mills – “Identity Problems and the Fan Principle“. This study shows how she pieced together the identity of a Mary Smith; researching common names are the hardest to follow.
I enjoyed reading this case study and it did enlighten me into thinking a different way. I have added a new word in my searching habits. Become a “Fan” of not just the individual you are searching, but a fan of the person’s spouse, family, friends and general area.
I’ve never thought about trying to search for families close to them just because they were close, but logically they probably would only have lived a few miles apart – or how would they have met? Maybe they went to the same church? Even if there are families in the same area with the same surname, see who went to which church, or had children of ages to marry. In thinking this way, there are many more ways to research.
Before 1908, and even much later, there were no cars, transportation was only by horseback, or horse and wagon; people did not travel far – and when they did – it took days. The first Model T rolled off the assembly line late in 1908; it was much later before every family even owned a car. My mother remembers growing up, being born in 1930, with only a horse and wagon as their only mode of transportation. My grandfather bought his first used car, a Model T, sometime in the late 1930’s; but even owning a car, I’m told he was still partial to going on the Sunday drive in the wagon. On those drives, mama liked to jump off and on the back of the wagon as they traveled to visit relatives. If the back dirt road was exceptionally dry and dusty, granddaddy drove through the creeks on the side of the road in order to wet the wheels; how ingenious to keep the dust from stirring. It took most of the morning to arrive at their destination, only to spend a couple of hours in order to arrive back home before dark.
I remember my great-aunt writing in a letter about when they visited their grandparents in the Blue-Ridge mountains in Lumpkin Co., Georgia. It wasn’t just a trip around the corner, it was a long trip, taking days to arrive at their destination; I’m assuming they camped along the way as she talked about all quilts her mother piled on the straw in the back of the wagon. Taking a trip that took that long to arrive, wasn’t a trip that was taken often.
The “Fan” theory might be hard to apply if the married couple had moved miles from where they were born and raised, but if you have an idea possibly of where they were from, you still should be able to apply some or part of these searchers.
I need to become that determined detective following a different type of paper trail besides the usual wills, marriage licenses, newspaper clippings, obituaries and church minutes. I need to twist the research trail and become the “Fan” of the opposite one in a marriage – it might be what will lead me to the information and family of the person I’m actually searching.
On my previous searches, once I found my person in a census, I hadn’t so closely studied their neighbors, but now I will look more closely at their surroundings. I’ll look to see who they associated with at church, were they mentioned in any newspaper clippings with their neighbors, who were the signers on the marriage licenses as witnesses or land deeds.
I haven’t yet decided which ancestor I am going to pick to test these new theories on, but I will be adding my results, with sources, here at a later date. I hope to have exciting news!
A Project in Progress: Check back daily for the next day’s goal and answers….
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