As genealogists, we sometimes get so caught up in what we are doing that we forget who is behind the indexes, abstractions, and transcriptions in books and databases that we use to find our ancestors. They are not well-known authors or famous in any way, other than they took time out of their lives to help current and future generations find their family members. Are you interested in becoming one of these unsung heroes of the genealogy world?
Recently, while searching for the meanings of my family’s surnames, I came across some interesting information on the origin of names. I always knew some surnames were derived from occupations, like Smith, Mason, Shoemaker, Miller, Farmer, etc., but I didn’t realize so many were also derived from nicknames and geographical locations. Classifying surnames and figuring out their origins has long been an interest of historians and genealogists.
During a recent patron request, I was asked to look up the service records of an aviator who flew in World War II and was stationed on the U.S.S. Enterprise. I knew that the Midwest Genealogy Center would have many different types of materials to help with this request, and I was right.
Recently, I received a genealogy research request that brought me to a lesser-known part of the Midwest Genealogy Center’s extensive genealogy collection. The customer’s request was for information regarding an ancestor who had been investigated by the Pinkerton National Detective Agency.
Have you ever taken a close look at some of the questions the enumerator asked when taking the census? Some questions don’t seem very useful to a genealogist. (Yes, I do realize that censuses were not taken just so I could use them for genealogy.) One particular question caught my attention one day and became a way to track an elusive family. I found my ancestor on the 1855 New York State Census. Looking at the original image, I noticed writing in a column next to his mother and brother that others didn’t have.
I love to read historical fiction, and if it has a little romance or suspense, it’s even better. (I know you are probably wondering since you are reading a genealogy blog, but don’t worry, it really does relate.) One of the things that I love about historical fiction is that even though the characters are fictional, the setting is a real time in history. I love to learn about the little-known parts of history or the everyday life that is so different than mine. My thoughts are similar when I research my family history.
I have been helping a friend with her genealogy. She was the recipient of some notes her mother’s cousin had made regarding the family’s genealogy. This cousin, named D. D., had done much research on my friend’s Burns family line. She indicated that William H. Burns married Martha McKittrick in Washington County, Kentucky in 1853. D. D. seemed to be a good researcher, and I was inclined to believe her, even though we found a marriage record for William H. Burns and Martha Stumpff.
Genealogy research is one of the fastest growing hobbies. Recent digitization efforts seem to have unleashed a firestorm of interest in searching for information about ancestors and have made research much easier, as well. But why do some folks have such a passion for genealogical research? Do you have a family member or friend that is interested in it and you just can’t understand why?