Time travel as close as your local cemetery.

Learning From the Experts

July 5, 2014 / by davidwalton


Norma Windell Lincoln holds a family tree created by her mother as a high-school project in 1938.

Southern Indiana Genealogical Society (SIGS) presented an evening of Kaleidoscope Genealogy July 3 with Norma Windell Lincoln and Donna Kepley Foster, two well-versed and experiences researchers.

Lincoln kicked off the evening with a discussion about Starting Your Own Genealogy Research; strategies for beginning family history work.

“In 1938, my mother created a family tree for a class project while attending Corydon (IN) High School,” Lincoln said. “The paper tree is over 20-feet long and all of the information is totally accurate except for one entry.”

Lincoln said her mother’s family tree project was a good starting point for her when she started her own research. She said her own children aren’t interested, but her niece is, so she plans to pass all of her research to her.

Lincoln urged attendees to always cite sources and make as many notes as possible so you don’t forget. She once was able to obtain some beneficial information in her research from a book written in 1892 about her ancestors named Engleman that she borrowed from a neighbor. “Keep asking questions, listen and document,” she said.

Donna Kepley Foster holds one of the family history books she’s published based on her 40-plus years of research.

Donna Kepley Foster holds one of the family history books she’s published based on her 40-plus years of research.

Foster discussed Citing Your Sources; the how-to of proper documentation and Free Online Research Resources; a look at non-subscription genealogy websites.

Foster explained in detail sources (actual document that proves information), citations (reference to the source), footnotes (appear at bottom of each page) and endnotes (appear at the end of each chapter).

I learned there are two different types of sources: primary (bible records, church records, census, estate records, land records, military records, court records and cemetery records) and secondary (biographies, histories, family group records, lineage charts, county history, published genealogies and someone else’s research).

Two books she credits with helping in her family history are Ancestry.com Guide to Research and Producing a Quality Family History by Patricia Law Hatcher.

Free websites that hold a wealth of information when doing genealogy research according to Foster are Findagrave.com and RootsWeb.com, both owned by Ancestry.com. FamilySearch.org is another free website.

Foster said Find A Grave almost matches the fee-based Ancestry.com, especially because it ties in family links. “Sometimes you can build almost a whole tree by using Find A Grave if a listing has the links on there.” But she warns not to depend solely on the photos that appear on the site as the primary source because stones can contain errors. “The headstone for one of my heirs George Washington Sooner showed both he and his wife dying in 1932; but a newspaper clipping proved this to be wrong. The printed obituary had her date of death as June 27, 1923.”

Other websites that can assist in research are government sites. Some local sites will provide you with jail records, trial records, and property tax information and marriage applications.

Courthouses have death records but Foster urges attendees to check their library first because they are less costly for printouts. “There are documents you are going to find in a library that you won’t find online. Old cemetery books hold a wealth of information.”

Foster ended by telling attendees to be sure and back up their information. She has more than 70,000 names in her files.

SIGS meets the first Thursday of every month at Strassweg Auditorium, New Albany-Floyd County Public Library, 180 W. Spring Street. Next month’s speaker will be Joe Hardesty of the Louisville Free Public Library who will talk about how to use the U.S. Census in genealogy research. For more information, log onto http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~insigs/nextmeet.htm.

Until next time….


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