Why I Go To Genealogy Presentations

Today’s presentation at the JGSCT (Jewish Genealogical Society of Connecticut) was given by Ron Arons. I have heard Ron speak no less than five times and every time I come away with a new idea. The presentation, “Sex, Lies, and Genealogical Tape”, was an updated version of a talk Ron gave a few years back. Even though I already knew the story he was telling, this talk focused more on the strategies and resources he used to determine if his relative was, in fact, the same person he had located on a variety of documents, using a variety of names.

Not unlike the story of my husband’s great-grandmother, Catherine Seeley FitzAllen, that I am struggling to untangle. I’ve been stumped (ok – stalled) by the lack of some vital records for Catherine; namely birth, immigration, and marriage. I’m okay without the marriage record, as the lack of that information doesn’t really affect the story. But I can’t accurately recreate Catherine’s early years without the birth and immigration information.

So, in hopes of getting a new idea, I attended today’s presentation. Here are a few things I hadn’t thought of. Maybe some of these ideas will help you find some obscure information you’ve been searching for.

1. Search the records of the siblings. (I have done this, but not as thoroughly as I should.)
2. Track down the living relatives. They may have the information you’re looking for.
3. Use maps. I might be able to use the Sanborn Fire Insurance maps to determine the square footage of the Kansas City home Catherine lived in. That would give me an idea of the size of the home and thereby wealth of the family. Maps can also provide a picture of how close in proximity people lived to other family members.
4. School records can provide verification of birthdates and maybe even list parents and siblings.
5. Property records can help verify residence.
6. IRS Tax Assessment records can help verify occupation and residence.

The biggest tip Ron gave was to make that phone call and be persistent! Emails go answered and snail mail may not make its way to the correct person. I really need to work on that – it is perhaps my weakest research technique.

Oh – and it didn’t hurt to hear that Ron has been researching his particular ancestor for 20 years. I’ve only been tracking Catherine for two years! So, I’m feelin’ pretty good!!

One thought on “Why I Go To Genealogy Presentations

  1. Since I couldn't get to this talk, thanks for the great summary. I haven't used Sanborn Fire maps as often as I should, so this is an excellent reminder. And I agree with Ron–often a polite phone call will be more effective than anything in writing!


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