One of the interesting aspects of being a Genealogist is hearing clients’ stories and learning about their ancestors in time and place.
I recently was at my favorite coffee shop doing some admin work for my Genealogy business and had the privilege of sitting next to person who is writer-storyteller with a focus on nature. As we happen to say hi and share space, I learned about their interest in family history and storytelling. I took the opportunity to explain how creating a family story is such a reward and benefit for those with interest in history. As we talked, I also asked if the person would be interested in networking and possibly giving a talk to my local genealogical association. We ended by exchange of business cards with intent to followup with each other soon.
I share this as a reminder that genealogy is more than charts and trees, it should be an avenue to create memories or stories. The end result being a booklet you share with future generations. Never too late to start a biographical sketch of one your special ancestors. #findyourplaceinhistory
What is a surname? A surname is the last name of person that is usually obtained through birth, adoption or marriage. In cases of marriage, historically the bride took the last name of the groom. Genealogy research often involves doing record searches with the surname of the person we are most interested.
We are also told that the surname we are given actually goes back in time for several thousand(s) years in history and can be traced back along the paternal line of our father’s father and his father, etc.
Is this true? In some families I would say that it is possible to trace the surname within one family. However there are cases when this understanding about surnames is not completely correct and can lead to discovery errors in a family pedigree. Are you related to the same Smith two generations ago, for example? The answer may only be partially correct. In cases where the name is not so common or of English origin you may even have a harder time. Misspellings of a name on a passenger list record may not really be the actual surname in the country of origin. It might be the creation of the Ship Captain or official at the port of entry in the United States. The pronunciation of names may have evolved over centuries too. Patronymic naming practices, in which a child’s surname was formed from the given name of his father, were in use throughout much of Scandinavia well into the 19th century—resulting in each generation of a family bearing a different last name. Lastly, the effect of literacy has an impact on what form a surname may have taken. Many of ancestors within the last 200 years or less may not have known how to read and write in their language of origin, so the surname we have today may not be exact when we conduct searches in place of origin. There are other reasons for possible last name changes, desire to fit in the culture, break from the past. For African-Americans of course they did not have that option, they were given or took names of their plantation owners.
The history of two names – first and last name – in the span of human time is relatively new. Generally the development of a surnames began in Europe in the middle ages, as the population started to grow, and life expectancy also increased. People also began to come more mobile and moved into towns where people with same first names but different family connections.
Recently I had a client where various surnames have been found – within a couple generations. Families from Northern and Eastern Europe many times have non-Latin or Slavic Language origins, that have different length, accent and tones when said or spelled. The client’s story on maternal side is one that has seen 3 changes to surname within two generation, one is name change upon father’s citizenship in US. Other reasons are early deaths of husbands and re-marriage. Thereafter some of the children changed their name back to birth father’s surname in adulthood.
Last name searches are not as simple and should not be assumed when doing Genealogy research. Be open to other possibilities to expand your searches of past ancestors.
NGS AND FGS ANNOUNCE INTENT TO MERGE
In a historic move, the boards of the National Genealogical Society (NGS) and the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) announced today their intent to merge. The two organizations, both non-profit leaders in the dynamic genealogy industry, will form one consolidated group that will continue to operate as the National Genealogical Society. Both boards approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) earlier this week, and jointly announced the news at the Opening Session of the FGS Family History Conference in Washington, D.C., this morning.
Leaders of both organizations believe this merger will serve the genealogy community by improving support of both individual members and societies in the pursuit of genealogical excellence.
The organizational structure of NGS will be modified to increase functions that support genealogical societies and family organizations. Digitization projects of genealogical importance such as the War of 1812 pensions will continue. The two organizations will continue to operate independently while all details of the merger are completed, no later than October 1, 2020.
Faye Stallings, President of FGS, said: “We are excited about this opportunity to combine with a premier organization that has been in operation since 1903. This will allow for improved and expanded services to help support societies.” Ben Spratling, President of NGS, commented, “We look forward to continuing the strong legacy of FGS as a ‘gathering point’ for family historians and societies all across the nation.”
In late April 2019 a client contacted me about learning more about their Paternal Great-Grandparents, who lived in Madison, Wisc from the 1850s to early 1900s.
Research results successfully met two of the main objectives set by the client.
Some the genealogical source records located, reviewed and analyzed were the following:
- Burial and Death Records.
- Marriage Records.
- Dane County Deeds Index 1835- 1915, at the Wisconsin Historical Society (WHS) Archives section
- Land and Deeds Records at the Dane County Register of Deeds Office in downtown Madison.
- Pre-1907 Wisconsin Vital Records held at the Wisconsin Historical Society (WHS) Library.
- Newspaper Research Lookups – with the aid of WHS databases held in their large collection catalog.
Today all was finalized and sent to client, including a 20 page Research Report, and electronic copies of documents found to support genealogy findings.
Genealogy Proof Standards were followed to support the results.
Overall with patience, research strategies and use of proof standards learned so far, the project was fun and worth the time.
In 1899 Kentucky, Berea College’s student body was visibly more racially diverse than counterparts around the nation, thanks to the help of Cassius Clay, who’s equality work helped pave the way in that state. (Library of Congress)
Look at the reference article:
On Saturday, August 10 at 11am, I will speak at the Dane County Area Genealogical Society, about my recent visit to Sacramento, California for the 2nd International German Genealogy Conference sponsored and organized by the International German Genealogy Partnership (IGGP). I will talk about the various sessions he attended over the 3-day conference that took place in June 2019, more about IGGP, the next conference in 2021 to take place in Cincinnati, Ohio and other fun items about Germanic Genealogy research application strategies for your own work. This ultimate Germanic Genealogy Conference brought together various societies and internationally known German researchers together.