Saturday, June 2, 2012

Helping others while helping yourself

I’m working with some other genealogy club members on a local figure’s family history project. I did not think I had enough time to do my own research to make time for yet someone else’s genealogy but I was wrong!

Working on another family’s genealogy has already (in two weeks) taught me a lot about my own family research. First – I assume too much when doing my own research. Second – I need more maps. {I will include other observations in future BLOGs.}

Specifically – I found that in my own family research I’m too quick to assume that a family with the same surname and many of the same givennames in the same colonial town is mine. When I am working on the project’s family: I want PROOF! I should be as picky with my own family.

In my own family I know where the places are that are in my line. In the project’s family – I did not know the counties. I went to a few places in addition to Google Maps to find historic county lines. Don’t forget that many, many records are only available at the county level so knowing which county someone lived in at the time they lived there is critical. I also went to some other sites to find historical county lines.

Boy was I surprised to find the reason I could not find some records was because the county did not even exist for the time period I was researching. I should have checked this information FIRST!

Here are some of the resources I used:

And the most fascinating was:

I started with then “interactive map” for the area we are researching. You need to spend some time with the interface and make sure you refresh the map after you change selections. There is supposedly a way to download the shape file of the historical boundaries for a specific year and overlay a Google Earth Map with the data but I’ve not figured that out, yet.

I found the files – I’m just not certain how to use them.

This site also has county chronologies and historical boundary dates for existing and extinct counties.

In the meantime, though, helping on this project has given me insights into my own family research so the time I thought I had given to the project actually was time well invested – not spent!

Happy Hunting!

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