Inferential Genealogy Study Group in 2nd Life – Step 3

With all of the research, I have forgotten to talk about the Steps involved with Inferential Genealogy.

Dr. Jones puts step 3 this way.

Step 3: Understand the Records
If we don’t understand the records, we won’t get all the information from them that we need to answer our research goal.
• Know why a document was created.
• Follow document creation processes from beginning to end.
• Note differences in records. Is there something that appears in your ancestor’s record that is different than the records of others?

I really focused on this step early on, and will cycle back through this with other records.

The first example is the understanding Civil War records. This study took me to look at these records. I really hadn’t looked at them, as my earlier research just hadn’t taken me there.

The two lessons learned with looking at these records is: 1) Where to look, and 2) the details that you might find.

Fold3.com (formerly Footnote.com) has a great collection (for me) of Civil War records. What I didn’t know is that the Union Records are Federal Records, while a CSA veteran records are archived by state. This is interesting for me, in that Maryland was on which side. This would be an issue if you didn’t know which side your person fought for. Do you look at Union Records or Confederate Records. I didn’t have a problem locating the records in Fold3. This was one place where I found that David Ridgely Howard had brothers in the Civil War.

The information included in the records I looked at were incredible. In these records I found that he was wounded in Gettysburg and about a year later lost his leg in another battle. What hospital he went to, when he “didn’t show up” for a muster, due to he being in the hospital. 18 pages in information. One of his brothers had 30 pages. Some can be read, some couldn’t.

The second area was understanding the Census Records. What information is important, which pieces in a specific census year should be recorded in my genealogy software, and how to record what was found.

Understanding the Census Records prior to 1850 may not have a lot of detail, I took a blank census record year, on a blank form, and marked up which columns I was going to record for each person listed.

Back in an earlier step, we were asked to check to see what relationships were recorded. Looking at the Census Records, 1850 – 1930, this information improves.

What I decided to do is to record the Household, with the Age of each member of the household, the name of the Head of Household, and put that information in the Name Notes field in my program.

This gave me the make up of the household and the age of the members of the household over time. When the 1870 Census Records started to show relationships, I could look at the specific person to see if the other information was consistent, or not consistent. So, looking at the data within the records, in this case Census Records, helped put the families together, then establishing the relationships.

As other records were reviewed, the relationships were recorded in the same place.

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