Friday, July 9, 2010

Interpetation and Evaluation

One of the most important of sound genealogical research is the ability to use the information we find correctly the first time. We have all had instances where we get a document or fact that at the time does not seem to have significance, but we realize later that it was what we needed to resolve the pieces of the puzzle.
Special attention should be spent to the details. Take for example one of the most common documents that we use in genealogical research the marriage certificate. At first glance we may be just looking for the names of the people getting married, the date and location. Many other interesting facts though can be learned from this document. Why did people get married in a different location? Were they married in a church or by a justice of the peace? Who were the witnesses. Were the parents listed.
A common occurrence in marriage certificates was being married in a different location. Many people traveled to the next town or to a completely different state. In the case of my own family I have ancestors that were married in another state and came right back to where they lived. Another married in a different city that had not connection to either party getting married. Understand the circumstances that caused these events.
Another interesting clue is where did they get married. Were they married in a church? What was the denomination of that church? Once you identify the church you will be able to evaluate there records as they relate to your family. Traditionally the marriage occurs in the brides home church.
Witnesses like on any document are often overlooked by genealogist. There is normally a strong connection to the people that are listed on a document. Check out their backgrounds. This will often shed light on unknown family relationships.
Finally use the marriage document to find the parents of the bride and groom. All though it does not state this on every document more times than not it does. This is one thing in my professional research that I am amazed that people don't check.
Please send in any further questions or problems you might have. They will be answered in this blog.