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Taking Back What Was Once Lost

Posts in category Evaluating Evidence

Are Your Assumptions Leading You Astr...

Are Your Assumptions Leading You Astray?

It’s fine to make assumptions during your genealogical research. In fact, we all do it whether we think we do or not. Here’s the thing: as we review our sources and uncover evidence, we have to remember our assumptions and be willing to let them go in light of new information. We need to follow where […]

Extracting Every Clue From the Census

Extracting Every Clue From the Census

The census could probably rightfully be called the foundational resource upon which much of our research builds upon. After interviewing our family members and elders, and farming the family attics and basements for documents, many of us turn to the census records. It begs a question. Have you learned to sift through each census record […]

Tips on Using World War Draft Registr...

Tips on Using World War Draft Registrations

World War Draft Registrations (World War I and World War II) are some of the most valuable tools in genealogy research. The World War I draft registration is one of the earliest records I used in my research. Their easy access on today, along with part of the draft registration for World War II, […]

Evaluating Evidence: Sorting “R...

Evaluating Evidence: Sorting “Rezins”

Evaluating evidence is probably the most critical skillset to master in order to break through some of the most stubborn brick walls in genealogy. This post provides an example of how I put that skill to use. When I first discovered that my enslaved ancestor’s name was Rezin Prather, I thought, “What an odd name. […]

What is Genealogy “Methodology&...

What is Genealogy “Methodology”?

Thanks to everyone who commented on my previous post about slavery and slaveowners. If anything, it kicked off some great discussions and dialogue about the country’s worst and most contentious period of history. I’ll leave that topic with one quote from one of our greatest slavery historians, Ira Berlin: No understanding of slavery can avoid these themes: […]

Harriet and Martha: Sisters Reunited

Harriet and Martha: Sisters Reunited

Getting better at genealogical research involves many things. One important skillset is understanding and learning how to find relationships when no document states the relationship. The early years of genealogy are filled with the “low hanging fruit” of census records, marriage and death records, online documents, etc. When that fruit runs out—which I assure you […]

I Found You, Mary Neal: Analysis Unco...

I Found You, Mary Neal: Analysis Uncovers An Identity

We all have those lines that seem to withstand all of our greatest efforts to uncover, and one of those lines for me has been my maternal ggrandfather Walter Springer’s line. I know the names of his parents–Lou and George Springer–but have only ever found Lou Springer, widowed, on the 1900 census. That is an […]

Marriage Records: Look Out for Multip...

Marriage Records: Look Out for Multiple Marriages

Marriage records are a foundational record for genealogists. I have discussed many times in this blog how finding a female ancestor’s new married name led to breakthroughs on the family line. Most of us automatically think of that when we suddenly “lose” tracking of a woman. What hasn’t come naturally for me yet is anticipating […]

Is The Wife Really The Mother Of All ...

Is The Wife Really The Mother Of All Those Children?

This week’s lesson comes from the Freedman’s Bank Records that I have been recently exploring. I once heard a lecturer say that up to 60% of the time, people are researching the wrong woman as mother of the children. This example shows the need to prove the father’s relationship to a child separately from the […]

The Civil War of Source Citations

The Civil War of Source Citations

Sometimes it can seem as if there is a civil war going on in the genealogical community. After we start researching our families, at some point we hear about the necessity of source citations. Once we figure out exactly what they are, and we see a few, some of us think, “That looks complicated. I […]

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About Me

I blog, teach, write and lecture about family history research and it's just as rewarding today as it was when I began 18 years ago. This lifelong quest has helped me to better know my past and I've taken back--reclaimed- my kin and some of that lost memory.  

Post History

What I Talk About

Locations and Surnames

Hardin, Chester and Lawrence Counties, TN
Holt, Barnes, Harbour, Bradley Springer and Fendricks
Lawrence County, AL
Springer and Fendricks
Montgomery County, MD
Prather, Simpson
Somerset County, MD
Waters, Fountain, Curtis
Duval and Madison County, FL
Smith, Harris, Garner

Favorite Family History Quotes

"The past is not dead. In fact, it's not even past."
-William Faulkner

"Call it a clan, call it a network, all it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one"
- Jane Howard

"Friends are God's apologies for relations."
-Hugh Kingsmill

"No matter what you've done for yourself or for humanity, if you can't look back on having given love and attention to your own family, what have you really accomplished?"
-Elbert Hubbard

"Families are like fudge; mostly sweet with a few nuts."

"If you can't get rid of the skeleton in your closet, you might as well make it dance!"

"Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city;)"
-George Burns

"Where does the family start? It starts with a young man falling in love with a girl. No superior alternative has yet been found."
-Winston Churchill

"The great gift of family life is to be intimately acquainted with people you might never ever introduce yourself to had life not done it for you."
-Kendall Hailey

"If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all the generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is present in your body. You are the continuation of each of these people."
-Thich Nhat Hanh