Preparing for a visit to the Family History Library

fhlIn a few days, I will be traveling to Salt Lake City to conduct genealogical research at the Family History Library,[1] the largest collection of genealogical material in the world.  If one spends the money to travel to SLC and does not have a plan for the research you wish to conduct, you will 1.) be overwhelmed, 2.) miss problems that should be researched and 3.) prioritize poorly.

I prepare for the trip by planning to maximize my efficiency.

First, I identify all problems I wish to work on.  For each of the many genealogical problems I identify, I check the catalog to see if there are online resources or if the FHL does not have the information I seek.   If the resources are available online or if FHL does not have the records I seek, I set the problem aside and do not consider it for further work related to the trip.  If, on the other hand, there are resources available at SLC that are available nowhere else or in disparate locations, I keep that particular problem “in the pool”.

Secondly, a small research plan is developed for each of the problems that are still “in the pool.”[2] This research plan, about one page long for each problem (I have one that is 15 pages long with all attachments), will be narrowly focused and will include a statement of what I am trying to solve,  summarize any background  information, description of known information, and a list of some of the resources I wish to use at FHL to answer the research question.  If applicable, I will also attach copies of the documents I have already gathered.  This makes a “problem packet”–one problem, one packet.  I may have 5-6 or even more of these for a three-day visit.

These problems can be a simple look up which might take an hour or can be more complex or even require successive conversations with a consultant. These can take multiple days to complete.  There is also no guarantee that a problem will be resolved while I am there and instead might result in a new research plan which identifies other repositories to visit or contact to obtain information.

But, I am not done yet.

Thirdly, I develop a schedule for each day.  This prevents me from ignoring one problem at the benefit to another or missing an educational opportunity.

I check to see if there are any lectures at the library I wish to attend. (January Lecture Schedule)[3] Working around the class schedule, I anticipate the amount of time each problem will take and then place them on the schedule.  I usually put the most difficult problem first and then fill in with the simpler problems towards the end of my research time.  Of course, I am not always right in my estimate but I will then adjust the schedule with full knowledge.

I always take more problem packets than I think I will resolve for two reasons–historically, I have finished early on one or more of my problems and I like to a backup to fill in my time. Sometimes, I can do no more work on a problem until I go visit another repository or if the film is in the vault resulting in a delay until I can access the film (hopefully, I have identified these in step 1.). I then use the other packets to fill in.

So far I have identified 5 problem packets.  These are not in order:

  1. Frederich Eilers: Mr. Elusive, the second husband of my great-great grandmother, seems to have shown up for the wedding in 1862 and then- poof!–disappeared.  I do not know his birth year, his residence at the time of the wedding, his occupation or when he emigrated from Germany.  I do know his place of birth in Germany, that he must have died/ disappeared/divorced by 1871 when gggrandmother and  the family moved to Iowa. I have only one document where she  used his surname and he was not mentioned in any of her three obituaries.
  2. Swedish Tax records:  I wish to compare two of the three copies of the taxation records taken between the years of 1748 and 1815 to see if there are any differences for a particular person I am researching. This will take about 4 hours. I am not anticipating big differences and in fact there may be none.  One is supposed to be a copy of the other.
  3. Swedish Farm Registers: Again, I need the expert translators to look at the documents and interpret some of the esoteric marks on the diagrams.
  4. Comprehensive review of all Illinois, Michigan, Iowa records for my Bode clan: This will take the most time with the (probable) least return. Since Hendrik Bode was a minister, I have many locales to research. Each locale will be a separate problem packet because the resources are so different.
  5. Daniel Suhm and his probable daughter, Anne Kirstine Danielsdotter Suhm: This is a perpetual “problem packet” for me. I always check with the consultants to see if there are any new Danish methodologies which might help me answer the question concerning this military man. The goal is to find Daniel’s location of military service in Denmark just prior to his retirement and (hopefully) tie Anne Kirstine with direct evidence to Daniel and his wife Zidsel. If not, I probably need to write this up as a proof argument based on indirect evidence and get on with it!
  6. Uphusen (Germany) film: I have much derivative source information on my ancestors that I would like to update to primary.  Since the Bode clan (my mother’s patrilineal line) lived in the Uphusen area back to the beginning of extant record keeping, there is a lot of direct lineage and collateral line work to do.  This is basically a fill-in problem packet.  This will be low on my list of priorities as I can order the film and do this in Seattle.  This work also takes me away from work on my portfolio.

The development of the problem packets must be completed by 17 January when I leave for SLC!  I will be giving updates on my travels on Facebook.  You can find me there.  Twitter might also be another place to look

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last posting: retired!!  I am not doing too well with it yet.  I am doing a few things for the office to wrap up–not much tho’. Attended a lovely party this pm and had coffee with my next door neighbor which I have never done before. Worked on the registration form for the Swedish genealogy classes at the Swedish Club.

[1] Family Search ( : accessed 22 December 2015).

[2] I also do a research plan for the other problems as well, but it is not my highest priority prior to the trip to SLC.

[3] I am interested in the class on indexing Italian records, tips and tricks to using the FHL Record Collection, and will definitely attend the Norwegian class on using Digitalarkivet.

Mapping 19th Century Land Occupancy in Sweden

I was cruising along in the ArkivDigital site looking at Swedish records for Höks harad–and “what to my wondering eyes should appear” but something that looked like a map! You know I love visual representation of events. As an architect, I absorb information visually quicker than I do from narrative and I absolutely retain it better.

These “maps” illustrate ownership of parcels of land in Sweden over time. It is unclear who drew these maps or for what reason but a quick check with Kathy Meade, the North American representative for ArkivDigital, indicated that these maps are so rare, Höks harad may be the only jurisdiction that produced such diagrams of ownership.

Each map represents one farm. The beginning date  of occupancy is the middle of the 19th century. The transference and division of the land is then visually recorded until early in the 20th century. Sometimes there were numerous splits and sometimes there is no subdivision of land and the transference is direct from one to another to another. Included are the names of the land occupant (probably did not “own” the land), their spouse and some critical dates. These diagrams show the 19th-century phenomenon of splitting the land into ever smaller segments until the early 20th-century phenomenon of greater consolidation of those same land segments.

Below are three of the farms of my ancestors. It is interesting to think about what is the “family farm in Sweden,” since each of these three is a strong contender. (note: they are within 2500 yards of one another.)

Slide1Högaryd: This is the farm of residence of my great-grandparents, Bengt Peter Andersson, Johanna Jönsdotter, his wife, and family at the time of emigration. (Bengt Peter’s name is circled at left.) [1] They moved to the Högaryd farm at the time of their marriage and assumed the farming responsibilities from Johanna’s father, Jöns Bengtsson. After they emigrated in 1881, the farm responsibilities were transferred to Bengt Svensson and his wife, Petronilla Jönsdotter, a couple whose relationship to the family is unknown. Petronilla is not the same-named sister of Johanna, as Johanna’s sister emigrated with her husband, Sven Persson, with Bengt Peter and Johanna in 1881.

Slide1Hankshult/Handskhult/Handskholman: This is the first home in Hishult parish of Anders Helgesson and Anne Maria Eriksdotter Beekman, my 4 times great grandparents. They occupied the farm starting in 1752 and three generations of land occupancy occur before the first identified land owners show on this map (circled). The land originally passed to Anders and Maria’s daughter, Margreta. Although I cannot (yet) find Margreta’s birth record in any parish record, land inheritance, especially to a woman is strong evidence of a very close relationship. [2] Since Margreta’s earliest appearance in the record with Anders and Anna Maria is when she is about 2 years old and prior to that the family did not live in Hishult parish, I am confident that Margreta is a biological daughter but this confidence needs to be backed up with analysis. The land occupant shown is Torkel Bengtsson, the uncle to my emigrant ancestor’s father Jöns Bengtsson.  If this all seems rather confusing–it is. I have first cousins that marry in two successive generations.

hishult rishultRishult: This farm transferred through Pernilla Andersdotter, the wife of Johannes Nilsson (circled). Pernilla is the grandchild of Bengt Andersson and Johanna Troedsdotter, the grandparents of my emigrant ancestor, Johanna Jönsdotter. through another line.[3]

I find it interesting that in all three cases, the land transferred to the next generation through the women. In the United States at this time, the laws shifted property to the husband upon marriage. This started to change in the years 1840-1850 in the US but seems to be acceptable in Sweden even prior to the mid 19th century.

I keep a fan chart showing the relationships close at hand at all times so I can figure out who is who, and even then sometimes I get confused!

Isn’t this a great find?

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last posting: talked to the Swedish Club about an opportunity to conduct genealogy classes to their members. Did my first Skype call to a friend who is active in the Federation of Genealogical Societies and spoke with her about how to be involved. I retired from the University of Washington–and yes, it feels weird but I hope not weird for long. And, I can tell, retirement for me does not mean I will be sitting back eating bon bons.  Presented my Swedish Taxation presentation to the Scandinavian Special Interest Group and my Myths presentation will be given tonight to the Jewish Genealogical Society of Washington State. And, I am getting ready for my Winter Genealogy Junket.

The hardest part of this assignment was doing the citations.  Tell me what you think?  Could these be improved?

[1] Hök Haradsratt, Register: Skummeslöf, Östra Karup, Hasslöf, Ysby, Waxtorp, Hishult, Knäred, Ränneslöf (Halland County, Sweden), records of farms, C111c: 1, image 246, Hishult parish, Högaryd farm no. 1; ArkivDigital ( : accessed 11 January 2016). AID v109251.b256.s387.

[2] Hök Haradsratt, Register: Skummeslöf, Östra Karup, Hasslöf, Ysby, Waxtorp, Hishult, Knäred, Ränneslöf (Halland County, Sweden), records of farms, C111c: 1, image 226, Hishult parish, Handskholman farm no. 1; ArkivDigital ( : accessed 11 January 2016). AID v109251.b256.s387.

[3] Hök Haradsratt, Register: Skummeslöf, Östra Karup, Hasslöf, Ysby, Waxtorp, Hishult, Knäred, Ränneslöf (Halland County, Sweden), records of farms, C111c: 1, image 257, Hishult parish, Rishult farm no. 1; ArkivDigital ( : accessed 11 January 2016). AID v109251.b226.s351.

SoCA GS webinar: “The ‘Push’ and the ‘Pull’ “

headset and meColleagues,

I want to thank each of you for attending the Southern California Genealogical Society Webinar on migration of our 19th century ancestors.  You had so many questions about regions of the world that I know little about, I was overwhelmed by the questions.  I would like to refer you to a few sources so you have the links. I admit that I have not read nor can I offer any guidance as to the quality of these resources, as generally these sources are addressing regions/countries that are outside my expertise.:

Canadian Homesteading: I found a lot of information to respond to the question about Canadian homesteading, land grants and land purchasing at the Family Search Wiki.  I recommend that you check it out.  I did not find as much in published books or journal articles but that may be because Google and Amazon are US-centric for me.  I recommend that you do some general searches in these two sites.  Also, look at WorldCat.

Speculation in the Midwest and surveying: I recommend this book.

  • Linklater, Andro. Measuring America: How the United States was Shaped by the Greatest Land Sale in History (Plume Publishing, 2003). I loved this book, but I’m from Iowa!

Emigration from Scotland.  There are a lot of books about the Scotch-Irish. I think the person who asked the question will just have to do some digging. I know almost nothing about this but I did find this book about early migration:

  • Dodson, David. Scottish Emigration to Colonial America, 1607-1785 (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2004).

Emigration from Northern Germany.

  • Walker, Mack. Germany and the Emigration, 1816-1885 (Boston: Harvard University Press, 1964).
  • Brandt, Edward R, et al Germanic Genealogy: A Guide to Worldwide Sources and Migration Patterns (Minneapolis: Minnesota Germanic Genealogy Society, 2007.  This is a very good book that I have in my library.  I recommend that you buy directly from the society and not from Amazon ($$$$):

Thanks everyone for attending.  I will be giving a Legacy webinar on 20 April and another for Minnesota Genealogical Society in November.  Tune in!

You can also catch my lecture schedule on the Genealogical Speakers Guild website.  Don’t hesitate to contact me if you think that my content might be of interest to your genealogical society. I am also traveling from Seattle to SLC to CO to Tucson, AZ to San Diego to Fresno in 6 weeks starting the 16th of January.  If you are a society located along the route, I am sure we make a deal!  :-)

Happy Hunting!




My Genealogy Goals for 2016

Happy New YearDo you make resolutions?  I decided to identify goals instead. My resolutions tend to  be broken in the first month and then not looked at again–at least that’s my pattern. I work continuously on my “Goals” and if I don’t get it right the first time I keep working on them.  Here are my Genealogy Goals for 2016.

  1. Have Fun!  Lucky for me, I have fun practicing genealogy and observing every day improvements.  Having fun to me includes sharing my passion, my knowledge and my experience with as many people as possible.  This sharing will include more lecturing, more writing, more mentoring and more researching than in the past.  I feel I am on track with  this goal with retirement on 6 January. I know this goal isn’t as measurable as Amy Johnson Crow would like (Click here to go to her blog about setting genealogical goals.) but I can live with that.
  2. Submit my portfolio to the Board of Certification for Genealogists.  Notice that the goal isn’t to “pass”–that would be a bonus! The “resolution” is, however,  to submit it before the National Genealogical Society conference in May.  There are a couple of things that could derail that schedule but Plan B is to submit the portfolio before the end of 2016.
  3. Become a well known regional expert in Swedish research. I am working at this very hard. I would eventually like to extend the definition of “regional” to national, but for now, I will be happy with a strong reputation in the WA, OR and even BC area. Present status: some genealogists in the Seattle area view me as knowledgeable. :-)
  4. Attend one or more of the major institutes in 2017: SLIG (Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy), GRIPP (Genealogy Research in /Pittsburgh) and/or Gen-Fed, the newly resurrected NARA course (yea!!). SLIG and Gen-Fed are on my “cross-hairs.”
  5. Technology:
    1. get my website up and running
    2. change the look of my blog…it’s looking a little stodgy these days!

In 2014 I also identified goals for 2016 for a ProGen class assignment (has it been that long?) focusing on lecturing. Here are the items for 2016 as stated back in 2014.  Since actions in 2016 are usually predicated on applications you make the previous year, I have placed comments concerning achievement on each:

  • Speak at WSGS (Washington State Genealogical Society) and two other major seminars: WSGS has morphed into the NwGC, Northwest Genealogical Conference.  I will be out of town for the conference this year. I will, however, be speaking at Indianapolis, Minneapolis, and two academic conferences here in Seattle.  I think those count!
  • Speak at Puget Sound chapters (2): I will well exceed this goal, probably by the end of January!
  • Speak at NGS 2016: goal achieved.  I will be presenting twice in Ft. Lauderdale. This is my first year speaking at NGS.
  • Speak at SCGS Jamboree: goal achieved.  I will be presenting twice in Burbank. This is my second year speaking at Jamboree.
  • Apply to SCGS Jamboree 2017: I will do this as soon as the Call for Papers comes out. I can never assume I will be selected in the next year just because I spoke at the last one.
  • Apply for NGS 2017, Raleigh, NC: The Call for Papers has just been announced. I will submit eight.
  • Apply for FGS conference 2017: I will do this as soon as the Call for Papers is announced. I wasn’t selected for 2016.
  • Submit one article to NGSQ: This will probably be my case study, which I will have submitted for my portfolio. (Note: I have just been informed that the editors wish to print my Gender Balance article if I can respond to the reviewers comments appropriately. Woo hoo!)
  • Submit two articles to other genealogical publications: I am totally up for this once the portfolio is submitted.

The above 2016 goals (made in 2014) assumed I had submitted my portfolio and was certified, so I have had to modify some of the goals from the previous years.  But we move on! Generally, I am about 1 year ahead of my ProGen goals, which is a good thing.

Thanks to each of you-my readers!  It is great to know that some of what I write is of interest and I hope a bit of a help. I wish you each achievement in your genealogy goals for the new year.

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last posting:  I have been working on my Case Study.  I will write about the process soon–lots of little discoveries. I also am getting ready for my first webinar for the Southern CA GS. You can register here:  I was informed of the NGSQ article which I am thrilled about–but I admit, some of the comments are conflicting. I am mentally and physically getting ready to retire.  It’s a little scary, but exciting too.

Genealogy Junket I: Winter 2016

Clock 4I am going on a genealogy junket–actually two of them in 2016!  I am very excited.  All of this is made possible because I am retiring from the University of Washington after 10 years on 6 January 2016.  After that date, my genealogical career stretches in front of me!

But– not so fast!

There’s a submission to BCG that calls me (and sometimes weighs heavily on me) to complete.

Here is a general itinerary (note: I am driving, which my husband thinks is a little nuts because of the roads etc. in the winter, but you are only “young” once.) The dates are subject to some variation

17 January: leave Seattle for SLC
18 or 19 January: arrive SLC
goals: research in the library. This is the week after SLIG. I will share some of that time with my friend Trish from Seattle.
23 January: leave SLC
24 January:  arrive in Silverthorne, CO
goals: start writing like crazy and meet up with a friend from OSU who lives now in Denver and continue my conversation with Annette. I will be up in the mountains.
28 January: leave CO
29 January: arrive Santa Fe
goal: meet up with cousin and reconnaissance on future possible retirement spots
1 February: leave for Tucson, AZ
2 February: arrive in Tucson and stay at a friend’s “la casita”
goal: “complete” portfolio; I suspect I will still have some missing documents but I want to get it to 98% ready to submit.
22 February: fly to Savannah GA
goal: annual meet up with WAUA (Women Association of University Architects)
25 February: fly back to Tucson
26 February: leave Tucson for San Diego
goal: visit brother and sister-in-law and long time friend from Ohio
29 February: leave SD for Fresno
goal: visit with Ostfriesen friend in Fresno
2 March: leave Fresno and head north to Seattle

In the summer I will do a similar marathon to the Midwest. Along the way I will attend three genealogy conferences (BYU, Ostfriesen and FGS) and a milestone high school class reunion.  I will also drive and take about 6 weeks.

On the to do list: prepare for SLC, i.e. work up a research plan for each of the issues that I want to explore while I am there.  If I have a good plan or series of plans then the writing will come easier when I am in Tucson.

I have to be back in Seattle no later than 10 March as I make presentations for two national academic conferences back-to-back: Nordic Immigration & Emigration conference and the Association of Popular Culture (co-presenting with Lisa Oberg).

If your travels or your life intersects with any of those stops, I would love to have coffee/tea with you.  Let me know.

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last posting: submitted 3 proposals to Legacy for “member bonus” webinars; mostly worked on getting ready to go to CO for Christmas, baked biscotti like a maniac to give as gifts at work. Heard back from Minnesota Genealogical Society–I will be doing a webinar for them in November of 2016.


Webinar: Tips for Presenters

headset and meI have recently been asked to conduct two webinars, one for the Southern California Genealogical Society and the other for Legacy Software Webinars. I am very excited as I have never presented in that media before. (that’s me on the left reading the instructions–it’s pretty much “plug and play.”)

For the uninitiated, “webinar” is a combo word joining “web” + “seminar” and is an on line educational event where attendees listen to the lecture and view the slides on their own device–laptop, tablet–I have even listed to one from my phone.  During the live portion of the webinar, participants can ask questions and make comments. Webinars are often then archived by the host forming a library of genealogical presentations for use of their members or subscribers.

I have listened to many webinars and try to listen to the SCGS and the Legacy webinars whenever I can, but I have not previously participated with the intent of listening for the “good” and the “bad” of webinar speakers.  Here are a few comments I received about how to be a better webinar speaker and how to deliver a successful webinar.

  • get comfortable with “talking to yourself,” i.e. there is no audience and so no immediate audience feedback.
  • script or no script? People’s advice varied but all said it was a matter of personal choice and what you are most comfortable with. A script can sound, well, “scripted.” Ultimately, you must use the system that is most comfortable for you which still allows you to convey a warm friendly presentation.
  • know your presentation cold
  • practice the technology at least 24 hours ahead of time; not two hours before.
  • watch the time…you do not want to go over the limit.
  • consider taping yourself and listening to it.  When one does that, small idiosyncrasies reveal themselves.  Unnecessary speech patterns–ahs, ums, or others– or verbal descriptions which seem vague can then be corrected for the final presentation.
  • give the presentation live in other venues first.
  • at the time of presentation, get into the right mindset–wear the clothes you would wear for a formal “in person” presentation, have water handy and act and be your professional self.

Great comments from my friends and mentors–thank you!

If you have never participated in a webinar, it is very easy. Most require a preregistration.

January 2: 10:00 am PT: “The ‘Push’ and the ‘Pull’: Decision-Making of a 19th Century Emigrant,”   hosted by the Southern California Genealogical Society (SCGS). On their main page, find the webinar and click on “sign up now.” (  Once you fill out the form and submit, an email will be sent to you with a link to the webinar.  You can register any time that the webinar is advertised on the site, usually a month in advance (it should be posted on the 18th of December). A few minutes before the presentation time, click on the link sent in the email and the viewing software will automatically enable after you give it permission. That’s it!  If your computer does not have speakers, then call using the phone number provided.  It’s very easy and very free.  If you miss the webinar and want to listen later, you have to be an SCGS member.

April 20, 10:00 am PT: “Fire Insurance Maps: Google Maps of their Day” hosted by Legacy Software Webinars. Legacy webinars have a similar signup process as SCGS. Log on to and click on “Upcoming Live Webinars.” Click on the webinar you want to watch and fill out the same type of form as SCGS. Similarly, you will be sent an email in advance on how to access the webinar on the day. A few moments before the webinar click on the link and watch.  If you miss the initial live presentation, Legacy allows you to view it free in the archive for about a week. After the first week you must be a subscriber to view.

Be careful of the time zone differences. Since the initial webinar is live, you must account for the differences in time zones.  If you are viewing an archived webinar, you can watch at your own convenience.

If you haven’t watched a webinar before, give it a try.  Many genealogical organizations present webinars which are often offered free. For example, check with your state genealogical society as they may have a webinar program as well (I know MN, WI and IL each have their own webinar series.) They are great fun and you can learn a lot.

A calendar of some genealogy webinars is posted at Geneawebinars: I counted 36 webinars or other online genealogy events for the month of January. It appears neither SCGS nor Legacy post their events there.

This might be my final post before the Christmas holidays and so I wish you and your family the best of holiday seasons and…Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last post: I worked on my transcripts and made great progress.  I even found a better document to transcribe and switched. I started work on a new client report (The others  were two years old and I have learned much since then.) Talked to a new client–I am not encouraging new clients these days due to other demands– but this was interesting and local. I am preparing for my “Winter Genealogy Junket”–making reservations and contacting friends along the way to reduce the cost.  The goal of the junket is to complete the portfolio (may be some wrap up items), submit my syllabi for NGS and Jamboree, refresh the presentation for NGS on “Death and Dying” and complete the two short presentations for the academic conferences in March. I will be blogging about my progress so be prepared for my “genealogical travel journal.”


Book Review: Genealogy Evidence by Noel C. Stevenson,

Gen Evid bk StevensonStevenson, Noel C. Genealogical Evidence: A Guide to the Standard of Proof Relating to Pedigrees, Ancestry, Heirship and Family History. Laguna Hills, California: Aegean Park Press, 1979, revised 1989.

What can you learn from a book written almost 35 years ago and revised 25 years ago? A lot!

To state the case most simply: if you are working on your portfolio, you need to have this book close by. Let me explain why.

Noel C. Stevenson, J.D., FASG  is one of genealogy’s icons of the most recent past generation, serving as President of the American Society of Genealogists from 1985-1986. [1]  His book, Genealogical Evidence is recognized as a pioneer in defining a common genealogical vocabulary, constructing a standard for source analysis and providing guidance for assessment of evidence.[2]  Thus, in the genealogy of genealogy, this book is an “ancestor” to Evidence Explained  by Elisabeth Shown Mills and Mastering Genealogical Proof by Tom Jones. [3]

The content covers common genealogical problems and establishes guidelines for their assessment.  For example, The first chapter on “Paternity, Maternity, Legitimacy and Illegitimacy” discusses “Age and Paternity” and “Age and Maternity,” where Stevenson discusses the ages one can expect parents to be within and ones that are outside that realm.  When you are looking at the age of the father at 16 and the age of the mother at 13 in your case study, what do you say about the likelihood of that happening? Stevenson will give you guidance and his work is a respected source. Is your case study a question of identity?  If so, Stevenson has an entire chapter on that topic.

Stevenson then breaks down records into two groups — public and unofficial records, the latter being everything that isn’t public, such as bibles, church records, tombstones etc., and covers types of records within those two broad categories. With each source type he begins with a short history of the development, and then describes their relative accuracy. Another great inclusion is the list at the end of these chapters which describe the various locations one can obtain the information desired if the single source does not exist.  The list for location of evidence of marriage, considered a public record, is 21 items long.  These other locations for marriage records may assist you in breaking down some of your brick walls or verify that you have truly completed your “exhaustive research.”

As a lawyer, his narrative concerning court records is especially note worthy. Stevenson brings a depth of understanding of the types of courts, their history and the records found there. He covers the types of marriages and the legality by state of common law marriages.  In this era, laws of marriage are changing so rapidly this list may be outdated, but it gives you a place to start.  This section (and others) are laced with examples which focus the reader on the analysis and the conclusions that can be drawn from the court records.  He even discusses, with examples, false pedigrees and some of the genealogical hoaxes that have been committed and still exist today.

Val Greenwood’s book, The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy, another iconic book, looks at source types; Stevenson’s addresses source types but then investigates each source type for the type of information it might contain and discusses the inherent validity of the evidence you may find within that source type. It is true that Stevenson uses terms like “circumstantial evidence” which now are dated, but this does not obviate the quality of the contents within.

If you are “on the clock,” this book will provide you with a basis for assumptions, will give you a basis for analyzing your sources and give you hints as to other locations to find records which make for a more complete research effort.  In addition, his citations may lead you to other documents, articles and books to assist you in solving a particular problem.  However, this is not a “brick wall problem solvers guide” as it is not focused on a particular problem you might have but rather the book provides us with a road map for our every day genealogical assessment.

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last posting:  I made my research plan for the holiday weekend.  I also listened to Ron Arons Legacy Webinar on mapping.  He did a nice job and Geoff Rasmussen, the host, gave my webinar presentation on fire insurance maps (scheduled for April) a shout out to all the live listeners.

[1] American Society of Genealogists, “Past Officers” ( : accessed 25 November 2015).

[2] John (surname not given), “Elements of Genealogical Analysis,” Our Blog (Allen County (IN) Public Library Genealogy Center), blog,  13 November 2014 ( : accessed 25 November 2015).

[3] Do I really need to provide a citation for you?