Berrien County Genealogical Society
Amelia Island Genealogical Society
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1.  
Genealogy is the search for our ancestors. Family history is the study of the lives they led. A true picture of the family is the result. Genealogy helps you to learn about your family and where you belong in that family. There is no greater legacy for your children and grandchildren than teaching them about the history and lives of their ancestors. Tracing your family medical history helps your children and grandchildren to take preventive measures with their own health. Every family's story is unique.
[Located in Category: Basic Information]
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Each generation doubles the number of ancestors, develop a research plan. Focus on one or two families so you do not become overwhelmed. If you hit a brick wall, work on another line and come back later with a “fresh” set of eyes. Everyone has a mother and a father. Female and male lines are equally important.
[Located in Category: Basic Information]
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An ancestor is a person from whom you are descended. A descendant is a person who is descended from an ancestor. A relative is someone with whom you share a common ancestor but who is not in your direct line. Make a list of all your living relatives when starting your genealogy research. Interview every one of them. When interviewing a relative, be prepared with a list of questions. Use a tape recorder or take very good notes. Respect the person's privacy. When writing to a relative for information, make specific requests, don't ramble. Offer to share your information. Remembering every letter you write is impossible, use a Correspondence Log.
[Located in Category: Basic Information]
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Boundaries - "Genealogy of Place" is vital to your research. Determine where the town/county/state is located and how boundaries have changed over time. Sometimes it's not the people who move, but the boundaries.
[Located in Category: Basic Information]
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Cemeteries - When searching old cemeteries, always check outside the fence. Many criminals, sinners, and those of mixed races were buried outside the cemetery proper. When doing field research "Posted No Trespassing" does not mean "except for genealogists".
[Located in Category: Basic Information]
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City Directories - In City Directories look at who lived near your ancestor. Were they relatives or neighbors from the same home town? City Directories are often overlooked in favor of tax rolls, census information and other forms of primary resources.
[Located in Category: Basic Information]
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Evaluation - Evaluate the information that you find, don't just stick it in a file. Remember to keep your information organized. Record every search, good or bad, on your research log so you know where you have searched and whether or not there was information in that source. Analyze, review and evaluate. Are there facts that don't fit or are missing? Go back and review and re-evaluate the information you have in your files. Sometimes an entry didn’t make sense at the time you found the source that “clicks” now that you have more information on your ancestor. Pay attention to chronology. How young or old is the mother? Is there a generation missing? Use information passed down by word of mouth as a clue, not as a fact. In some families you will find children named after older brothers or sisters who died. Large gaps between children can indicate other children not identified, divorce or early death. Use timelines to find holes in your research.
[Located in Category: Basic Information]
8.  
Maps - Maps of all kinds are important to your family research. County and state lines changed over time. Don't forget to check surrounding counties for boundary changes. Use a Migration Map which to display everywhere your ancestor(s) lived. This Map can help you determine why your ancestors moved.
[Located in Category: Basic Information]
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Obituaries - Don't limit the scope of your research to just the deceased. You may find a relative in the list of survivors, pre-deceased, or pallbearers. These clues help place your relatives at a specific place at a specific time. Obituaries may contain the name of the deceased, date of death, year and location of birth, name of cemetery, date and place of funeral, and name children and siblings of the deceased.
[Located in Category: Basic Information]
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Organize - Organize your research to find information quickly. If your system doesn't work, make changes. Use standard size paper when taking notes, one surname per page and record the source(s) so you can find it again. Use only accepted abbreviations. Understand basic terminology. Make photocopies and store original documents in a safe deposit or fireproof box. Genealogy research generates paperwork.
[Located in Category: Basic Information]
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Recording your Findings - Pedigree charts are your road map. Begin with yourself. Use maiden names of married women. Family Group Sheets identify a couple and their children. Everyone has two family group sheets, one as a child with parents and one as a parent with children. Chronological Profiles begin with your ancestor's birth. Fill in with various life events as you discover them. Eventually, you'll have a picture of your ancestor's life.
[Located in Category: Basic Information]
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Research - Always work from the known facts to the unknown. The Research Log is very important for keeping a record of the source of every piece of information you collect. Not all information is available online. You might be looking at a transcription or abstract made from an original record. While every effort is made to ensure transcriptions are accurate, it is essential to examine a copy of the original record to confirm the transcription. Don't forget to trace other family members, e.g. brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles. When transcribing a record or document, copy it EXACTLY as found, even if words are not spelled as they are today. Some families record the most important events of their lives in a Family Bible. Do NOT take original documents on your research trips. Make copies instead. Join a genealogy society in the location you are researching and network with other researchers.
[Located in Category: Basic Information]
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Research Education - Take advantage of the many online classes and webinars on genealogy research. Check out the hundreds of free learning tools available at FamilySearch.org to help you further your research. Don't wait for databases to be added to your favorite genealogy sites. Volunteer to index records at websites like FamilySearch.org. In addition to helping add free records to their site, you learn to read different handwriting styles and decipher various record types.
[Located in Category: Basic Information]
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Research Libraries - If you are visiting a library for the first time, ask the librarian for a tour of their holdings. Don't forget to take money for photocopies. Have a smart phone? Look for a scanner app to take images of records and documents. Always check with the librarian if you want to use a personal scanner or phone camera to take pictures of a book page or other document. Undocumented family genealogies and county histories can contain truth and errors. Lineage societies' books should be used as a guide only, as the information may not be correct. There are thousands of records not yet available online that include important information for family history research. Printed resources include Family Histories, local histories, record transcriptions and abstracts, and other materials.
[Located in Category: Basic Information]
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Researching Records - There is no central depository for Colonial Records. They are scattered among the 13 original states. Most public records will be found at courthouses or state vital statistic archives. Check original records whenever possible. If you don't find an ancestor in an index, it doesn't mean that a record for your ancestor does not exist. Spelling variations and interpretation of handwriting account for many “missing” records.
[Located in Category: Basic Information]
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Source - Don't forget to cite your sources. Take time to analyze your findings and give everything another look. Sometimes the answer to a question is waiting in records you have already discovered.
[Located in Category: Basic Information]
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Spelling Variations - Keep track of the alternate spellings of the surnames you are searching. It is not unusual to find the same name in different states at the same time. Jr. and Sr. after a person's name may not mean they are related. Depending on the timeframe, it could mean a younger and an older man in the same area with the same name, who may not be related. For hard to find female ancestors, go sideways and search their husband and children. Remember to search for female ancestors using nicknames for their given name. In searching for Vital Records, the name of a Child, Father, Mother, Church, County, or Town might be a way of finding an ancestor whose name was scrambled in some old transcription. Look for name variations and check variant spellings. Phonetics and imagination were often used. Given names can have many variations in spelling as well as surnames.
[Located in Category: Basic Information]
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Surname - Surname Sources: The four basic groups from which surnames developed are patronymic, landscape features/place names, action/nicknames and occupational/office names. Surname spelling standardization didn't begin until the early 1900s. Many people were unable to read, write or spell.
[Located in Category: Basic Information]
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A population census is an official counting of the residents on a designated day. The census places an ancestor is a specific place at a specific time.
[Located in Category: Census]
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The U.S. Federal Census has been taken every 10 years since 1790. The 1890 census was damaged by water during a fire and discarded. A census is closed to the public for 72 years after it is taken. Begin with the most recent census and work backwards.
[Located in Category: Census]
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Look for all your ancestors in each Census year they were alive. Be sure to look at the families before and after the one you are researching. They are the friends, neighbors, and sometimes family of your ancestor. Make sure to check on the next census page if your ancestor is the last entry on the page. There may be more family members on the next page. More than one generation may be listed in a household.
[Located in Category: Census]
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Prepare a census timeline before you begin. Use blank census forms to record the information found in the census you are searching. Expect spelling and age variations. The information in the census is only as good as the knowledge of the person reporting it. The listed children may not all belong to the listed Head of Household and the wife. This may be a second wife and the children a combination of his and hers. Copy census information as it is written. Make a note of any discrepancies in the comments section of your genealogy.
[Located in Category: Census]
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When a spouse is no longer listed, don't assume he/she is dead. The person could be living with one of the children. A person may not have been living on the official census date. All census information was recorded as of the official census day regardless of the actual enumeration date.
[Located in Category: Census]
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In addition to the federal population census, there are a number of special censuses: Slave, Industry & Manufacturing, Agriculture, Mortality, Social Statistics, Union Veteran & Widow, and Defective, Dependent & Delinquent.
[Located in Category: Census]
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Before 1790 you can use Tax Lists and other local lists that might have been compiled according to the state you are researching in.
[Located in Category: Census]
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Church records may include births, christenings, marriages, deaths and burials. Be sure you have the correct church/religious denomination.
[Located in Category: Church Records]
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To determine which church your ancestor attended, search the churches closest to home first and then broaden your search. Check for cemetery records with the church, Sexton and Funeral Directors.
[Located in Category: Church Records]
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Visit the cemetery and take a picture of the tombstone. Check the obituaries in that time frame.
[Located in Category: Church Records]
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ae. or aet. - Latin abbreviation meaning "at the age of".
[Located in Category: Definitions]
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Administrator - an appointee of the court who settles the estate of a deceased who died without leaving a will.
[Located in Category: Definitions]
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Affidavit - a written and signed statement sworn in front of a court officer.
[Located in Category: Definitions]
32.  
Ahnentafel - German Ancestor Table a version of a pedigree chart which is written out.
[Located in Category: Definitions]
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Alien - a foreign-born resident of a country who has not been naturalized.
[Located in Category: Definitions]
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Atlas - a collection of maps.
[Located in Category: Definitions]
35.  
Banns of Marriage - a public announcement in a Christian parish church of an intended marriage. The announcement is made three successive Sundays.
[Located in Category: Definitions]
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Cadastral Map - a graphic illustration of land boundaries.
[Located in Category: Definitions]
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Cannon Law - refers to Laws of the Church.
[Located in Category: Definitions]
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Civil Records - created by and for a governmental agency.
[Located in Category: Definitions]
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Collateral Ancestor - an ancestor NOT in the direct line of ascent, but coming from the same ancestral family.
[Located in Category: Definitions]
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Consanguinity - blood relationship.
[Located in Category: Definitions]
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Cousin - in early American history a relative by blood or marriage of any degree outside the immediate family.
[Located in Category: Definitions]
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D.S.P. (died sine prole) - died without offspring.
[Located in Category: Definitions]
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Daughter-in-law - in early American History a step-daughter or the wife of their son.
[Located in Category: Definitions]
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Gazetteer - a geographical dictionary.
[Located in Category: Definitions]
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Genealogy - the study of the origins and descent of families.
[Located in Category: Definitions]
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Huguenots - French Protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries.
[Located in Category: Definitions]
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Lineal Descendant - in the direct line of descent from an ancestor.
[Located in Category: Definitions]
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Podcast - a digital recording of a radio broadcast or similar program, made available on the Internet for downloading to a personal audio (or video) player.
[Located in Category: Definitions]
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Relict - a widow or widower.
[Located in Category: Definitions]
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Sic - Latin word used in a transcription indicates the preceding word has been transcribed exactly from the original.
[Located in Category: Definitions]