How do I pick a family for the kinship report?

This has been a question for me for the past two days.  Did I pick the right family?  Did I pick the right focus person?  Now that I know, what I know, is there someone better that I should have picked?  And, finally, am I too far along with this family to not continue and what would that mean?

I really thought it would be fairly simple to pick the right family and the right focus person but now I am not so sure.

Let me give you a little background on the choices and then you might get an idea of the dilemma….

I have 3 ethnic groups represented in my immediate family, Ostfriesen (tiny area of Germany next to the Dutch border), Swedish and Danish.  All three came to the US between 1854 and 1906, relatively (pun!) recently.  A kinship report documents kinships for at least 3 generations and should reflect a wide range of sources (subject of a future post).  I have all families traced to the other side of the ocean with home villages, but once I get there my variety of sources drops off dramatically (parish records and some censuses or census-like documents).  Then the next question is whether I wish to do an ascendency or a descendency report.  I find ascendency reports more understandable once written (i.e. I can tell who is related to whom more easily) so I decided on that.  Another recommendation is that your portfolio should illustrate knowledge in a variety of ethnic areas and since my proof argument and my Document work was going to be the Ostfriesen side of the family, I felt narrowed down to the Danish or Swedish side of the family.  The Danish side immigrated late (1906) so it seemed logical that the more interesting documents were going to be found on the Swedish side.  (There is also a series of illegitimate births on the Danish side making the father/child relationships particularly challenging, although interesting.)

In retrospect, I should have given this more thought but I am not sure I would have come to a different decision.

I decided on the Swedish side, somewhat by elimination rather than selection, and I decided to focus on the immigrants, Bengt Peter Anderson and Johanna Jönsdotter.  But which one?  I looked at the types of documents I had for them, newspaper obituaries, land records, traditions, parish records, probate records etc. and they had a good amount of types of documents.  I thought Johanna’s side of the family was a little richer on documentation in Sweden because I had a probate record (only 25% do) on that side of the family plus the usual parish vital records and household examinations.

What I should have checked a little more closely was the documentation on their children (you have to come forward one generation to the focus person).  I totally lack information on all of the great aunts and uncles.  I will have to spend a lot of time (and $$) in getting this information from the Iowa Health Department.  I could have had the focus person be one generation back and avoided this, BUT…..I wouldn’t have had the variety of sources requested.  Therefore, I am biting the bullet, and going to stick with this family and this focus group, but i wish I would have been a little more analytical about the selection process. (probably the topic of a future post as well.)  However, this is also part of the learning curve-understanding the quality of the proof document you are using.

I hope this helps you make good decisions about what to write your kinship report about.

Happy hunting!


What I have worked on since the last post:  I relistened to the BCG videos, including the one on kinship report twice!  I looked through the archives of NGS Quarterly and their Magazine and found two articles of particular interest on two enumerations of the same family in the same census and one on proving family traditions, both important elements of my Case Study.


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