The National Institute for Genealogical Studies

LEADERS IN ONLINE GENEALOGY EDUCATION

The National Institute for Genealogical Studies - LEADERS IN ONLINE GENEALOGY EDUCATION

Genealogy?

What does Genealogy mean?

A definition found in the dictionary states that “genealogy is the science of tracing your family back through the centuries.” Genealogies record the descent of an individual or a family from a certain ancestor.  It is the study of your pedigree.

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What the dictionary does not explain is the fun and the challenge you can have as you climb your family tree. Think of genealogy as a big, huge puzzle. And you are but one piece of that puzzle.

The mystery in this puzzle is that once you get started, you never know where you’re going or what you’ll find once you get there. With our Methodology-Part 1: Getting Started course you will learn more about these genealogy puzzle pieces. 

 

Who, What and Why?

Basic Questions

How do you learn more about a photograph? Here are some basic questions to help get started.

Photography: Clues Pictures Hold, Editing, Digitizing and Various Projects

WHO is in the photograph?

It would seem that this is a simple question to answer, but identifying people in photographs is not always that easy, especially if there are no other photographs of that person and no living person is around to make the identification. In that case, it may be necessary to rely on a name written on the photograph.

WHAT is in the photograph?

Some photographs have clues that can help identify the subject and the place, even the date, of the photograph. There are numerous things that can appear in a photograph:

  • Houses
  • Commercial buildings
  • Schools
  • Storefronts
  • Cars
  • Street signs

Even Mother Nature can help out if the landscape is studied.

  • Are the trees bare?
  • Is the ground covered in snow?

All of these items are clues to the time of year in which the photo was taken.

WHY was the photograph taken?

Before snapshot cameras became popular around 1900 or so, people did not usually have their photographs taken very often (if at all). So when they did have their photograph taken is was for something special such as a birthday, an engagement or wedding, their arrival in America or in a new town, or a funeral.

Keep in mind that 19th and early 20th century engagement photographs can look almost identical to wedding photographs as most women wore their best Sunday dresses when they married.

It is very helpful to know the basic history of people, places, and things when examining old photographs. These are just some of the topics covered in our Photography: Clues Pictures Hold, Editing, Digitizing and Various Projects course

Research Gaps

Previous Research  

Sometimes we get so caught up in the thrill of the hunt for our ancestors that we might not always practice good research techniques.  We find a document, pull a few bits from it, put it aside, and move on to the next search.  This is why reviewing the research we have already done should always be the first step when trying to break down a brick wall.

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Many brick walls can be solved simply by reviewing what we have done and identifying gaps.  Oftentimes, the records we already have contain the missing link and can help us solve our genealogy mystery.  Another reason we should take the time to review our research is because many of these brick walls probably were established when we were new to genealogy.

Even if reviewing our data does not demolish the brick wall, it will help us develop a road map for further research.  You should keep in mind that genealogy research is cyclic and as such, the process of evaluating and analyzing sources should be repeated until a conclusion is reached.

With our “Skill-Building: Break Down Brick Walls  course we will look at multiple approaches you can use in reviewing your research.

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