Genealogical Resolutions

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By Mary Harrell-Sesniak

Resolution 1: Reread and transcribe documents. You may interpret the text differently at a later date.

“Answer to [illegible] 1st I was born in Cumberland County Pennsylvania the 12th day of May 1752. Answer to [illegible] 2d. I well remember seeing the record of my age in the family bible but it has long since been destroyed. I was residing in the town of Bedford in the County of Bedford state of Pennsylvania at the time I entered the service & during the revolutionary War. Since that time I have resided in the state of Kentucky until about twelve years since when I removed to Jennings County, Ind. where I now reside...”

Resolution 2: Seek and correlate corroborating evidence. This Oath of Allegiance of 1777 places William Elliott in Bedford Co., Pennsylvania. His statement indicated he was born in Cumberland County, which makes sense, since Bedford County was created March 9, 1771 from part of Cumberland County.
Resolution 3: Seek out online websites not included in search engines. Although lists on public websites are usually indexed, names recorded within databases are generally omitted. This is frequently the case with specific court houses, cemeteries and state archives. I had to search the Land Office database for Kentucky land patents database, to locate records for my ancestor.

Resolution 4: Network more. Post queries on forums and take advantage of social networking opportunities, such as FaceBook. I only located the land records, after making a query with Marcia McClure, author of the My Son Adam's Family database, published on WorldConnect.

Resolution 5: Learn more about locations. As stated in RootsWeb Review's Tip,Location, location, location, documents are often found in unexpected places. Time lines are helpful, especially for county and city name changes.

Resolution 6: Explore finding guides, located in the reference section of the library. Not only will they direct you to available repositories, but they will tell you almost everything you need to know about a particular area, including jurisdiction of records, what is available and where to find it. You can now find the Red Book and the Source online in the wiki.

Resolution 7: Set yourself up for genealogical travel. Scan documents and references, and take them with you on your laptop. Then go and visit your ancestral homelands – you'll be glad you did. And encourage publishers to develop more smart phone and tablet apps, such as Ancestry's Tree to Go.

Resolution 8: Accumulate original documentation. After finding a transcription, order the original, including the title and copyright pages.

Resolution 9: Give back. Contribute to RootsWeb, or to the World Archives Project, submit and collaborate on DNA projects and think about publishing your genealogy online for others to benefit from. Not only will you feel good about your contributions but participating in these efforts is also a good learning tool.

Resolution 10. Value your time by taking care of your computer and research. It would be a tragedy to lose all of your work. So backup, store copies in safe places and label properly. And please, keep your programs up-to-date.

Originally published in the January 2011 RootsWeb Review.