Research


Don’t Cry About the SSDI

Last spring we did a two part series on the Social Security Death Index and it progenitor, the Death Master File. The posts are here and here. The series was prompted in part by reports of errors in the Death Master file, especially those which reported living persons as deceased. We learned that nearly 90% of the information in the …Continue reading →

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Reference Review: African-American Genealogy at a Glance

Just the other morning, a young protege was saying that her research seemed unfocused and that she thought she needed to go someplace other than her usual research venues. I talked a few ideas with her. Then, the next day, I received a review copy of Genealogy at a Glance: African American Genealogy Research. My protege’s dilemma was solved (almost)! …Continue reading →

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The Reliability of Oral Histories–The Forensic Approach to Evaluation

Part 2 of a three-part series.  Part 1 is here. When last we met, we explored the issues associated with the reliability of “eyewitness testimony” in court and applied similar concepts to first-person accounts of historical and genealogical events. We discovered several issues that might make “eyewitness testimony” unreliable. Now we explore the 21st century approach to eyewitness testimony and …Continue reading →

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The Reliability of Oral Histories Considered

[Music; loud with fast, heavy beat] [Baritone voice with emergency pace and tone]:“Eyewitness News! The [Valley's][Metroplex's][Tri-State Area's][Ark-La-Tex's][Bay Area's][Central Coast's][Middle Tennessee's] Most Reliable Newscast! With the entire Eyewitness News Team! This is Eyewitness News at Six [o'clock]!” That voicer (or words and music to that effect) has been heard on television stations all over America at one time or another in …Continue reading →

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Book Review: If You Knew Google like She Knows Google . . . .

The Genealogist ‘s Google Toolbox, by Lisa Louise Cooke (2011) If we were all in junior high school, I doubt that anyone would hang the moniker “Geek Girl” on Lisa Louise Cooke.  She just seems so socially well-adjusted.  But there has to be a little bit of  geek  in anybody who could write such a clear and cogent guide to …Continue reading →

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Book Review: Online State Resources

Online State Resources for Genealogists by Michael Hait (e-book) (2011). Even novice genealogists know where to find the basic documents needed for research: the census, for example, can be found on several pay services as well as on free sites like HeritageQuest. But everyone also knows that to do a sufficient job of research, one must look high and low …Continue reading →

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Federal Court Research Useless to Genealogists? We Report, You Decide

Last week we reported about PACER, the federal courts’ Public Access to Court Electronic Records system.  We demonstrated how it works, and suggested that it may have some genealogical research value.  Reader Martin has some issues with that post.  In the comments Martin says: How many genealogical brick walls have been broken down via federal court cases?  Not many–possibly none.  …Continue reading →

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Finding Federal Court Records for Free [Mostly!]

“Court records” can mean literally anything of public interest filed with the courts.  But some of the juiciest stuff is to be found in criminal cases and civil lawsuits.  Ron Arons has an excellent book out called Wanted:US Criminal Records–Sources & Research Methodology.  He describes the state and federal repositories for these records.  I’ve used his book several times in …Continue reading →

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Scores of Things About My Genealogical Activities

I’m not sure who started this meme, but I first found it at Msteri’s Heritage Happens.  She called it 104 Tidbits About My Genealogical Habits.  It can be a good goal setting tool. The list below  should be annotated in the following manner: Things you have already done or found: bold face type Things you would like to do or …Continue reading →

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Sharing the Bounty

Over at Family Matters, Denise Olson is sharing a veritable treasure trove of genealogical on-line resources. The links she’s been posting are part of the collection at the Genealogy Research Resources Group at Diigo, a self-described “social annotation” site. I had not used Diigo until now, but it seems simple and a great way to share your discoveries. I’m sharing …Continue reading →

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