Genealogy: Prayer is the most important tool I have as a genealogist

Genealogy Prayer is the most important tool I have as a genealogistBy Barry J. Ewell

I have thought a lot about the topic of prayer and genealogy and just how to approach the concept without offending or preaching. Prayer is the most important tool I have as a genealogist. I remember one of my very first experiences as a genealogist, where I had chosen to work on one family line with very little success. I felt the need to include prayer but didn’t. As time went on, I became more and more frustrated. Continue reading

Genealogy Immigration/Migration: Methodology of how to find the origin of your immigrant ancestors

Methodology of how to find the origin of your immigrant ancestorsBy Barry J. Ewell

Genealogy is a process, a methodology, for finding our ancestors. There are many tools available, but knowing what to use and when to use the tool makes the biggest difference.

I remember many years ago when I was a Boy Scout, a member of our troop became lost. The first thing many of us did was rush right out and start looking in the wilderness and calling out his name. We had no record of who had gone where or what—if anything—was found. Any evidence that may have been found was trampled over. When evening came, we built large bonfires, hoping he might see us in the dark. As the morning came, we gathered as a troop and discussed what we remembered and what we knew Continue reading

Genealogy: 150 questions to ask family members about their lives

Genealogy 150 questions to ask family members about their livesBy Barry J. Ewell

Well-crafted, open-ended questions can yield fruitful results when you interview family for purposes of family history. The following is an outline of questions you may want to consider. Take time to tailor the questions to the person you are interviewing.

When you are ready to conduct an interview, have the questions in front of you to make sure you are getting the information you desire. Conversations about family can go many directions. When possible, record the interview on audio or video.

  1. What is your full name and why were you named that? (Maiden name for females)
  2. Were you named after someone else?
  3. Did you have a nickname as you were growing up?
  4. If you did, what was it and why did they call you that?
  5. Have you had any other nicknames as an adult? Continue reading

Genealogy: Choose a record or source of information

Choose a record or source of informationBy Barry J. Ewell

Once you know what information you’re looking for, ask yourself where you might find it. Then choose one source or record to on which to focus your research. For example, if I had the objective of finding the birth date of an ancestor, I would ask these questions: “What type of records could I find a birth date in? Where are these records kept? How do I get access to the records?” And so forth. I then record all questions, thoughts, and findings in my research log. Continue reading

Genealogy: Home is a valuable source for family information

Home is a valuable source for family informationBy Barry J. Ewell

Every research project begins at home. Whether you are looking for information for the first time or searching through your personal research folders, your home is a valuable source of family information.

Take time to look for records you might already have. Use the following list as a guide to sources of information that you might find in your home or in the home of a relative.

  •  Birth: Birth certificate, adoption record, baby book
  • Citizenship: Alien registration, deportment papers, naturalization papers
  • Civil and legal activity: Bonds, contracts, guardian papers, summons or subpoena Continue reading

Genealogy: Detailed, exhaustive research will yield success in genealogy pursuits

10-15-2014 7-54-06 PMBy Barry J. Ewell

Genealogy is a skill requiring preparation and planning, detailed and exhaustive research, and careful correlation, analysis and reporting.

Preparation and planning
Develop a research plan based on analyzing and defining the research problem you seek to resolve. Preparation and planning requires that you place the problem in its legal and social context, identify related and associated individuals, and identify relevant resources, tools and methods, as well as the pros and cons in the use of those resources. Continue reading

If Sherlock Holmes Were a Genealogist (Part 1)

By Barry J. Ewell

I have always been a fan of detective stories. My father was a detective for the Las Vegas police department during the 1960s. In his later years, I enjoyed listening to his stories of how he was able to crack the case after careful research and analysis.

As I read and listened to the Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Conan Doyle, I noticed that Sherlock used the same strategies as my father.

I thought it would be fun to create a personal research project where I would use Sherlock Holmes as model. What would Sherlock Holmes do if he were a genealogist? My intent was to see if I could uncover and understand the principles and then apply them to my own genealogy research practices. The results of my project dramatically changed my approach to genealogy research. I’d like to share with you what I found. Continue reading