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Don’t Throw the Baby Out with the Bathwater


September 13, 2016

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Maybe some of you may have heard of the saying: don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. This expression references the bathing practices of the Middle Ages when people shared bathwater and only bathed occasionally. By the time the baby was bathed, the water was so dirty, the baby was in danger of being thrown out unseen. Even if this didn’t really happen, we continue to use the saying. The saying means not to throw out something valuable while trying to get rid of something not worth keeping. 

Sometimes in genealogy, we sift through a lot of records and may inadvertently toss something aside that could have been helpful. Recently, I almost threw out a death record because I was sure I had found all the children of my great-great-grandparents. Looking closer, I realized it was a child of the same family. The child only lived a year, and there should have been a birth record, but for some reason, it was never recorded or I never found it. 

How can you avoid throwing the baby out with the bathwater when it comes to your research? Try digging a little deeper to find new and different resources. Keep in mind that not everything is online. There is still information that can only be found on microfilm or in books. One resource that you may have missed is the early birth and death records for Kansas City, Missouri, from about 1874 to 1909. Although Jackson County did not keep records during this time period, the City of Kansas City kept intermittent birth and death records. The records are on microfilm at the Midwest Genealogy Center, and there is also an index to the death records. If your ancestor was born or died during this time period before the State of Missouri began keeping vital records, it may be worth a look. Do you have any resources to recommend?  

Jolene C.
Midwest Genealogy Center

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