As I mentioned in my initial post on Inferential Genealogy, I was given a “homework” assignment to study Case 1. I did. It was fascinating. What I liked most about it was that it forced my brain to go in unfamiliar directions – to think outside the box. I am discovering that there are record types out there that, while I never thought they would be of much value to my research other than as peripheral information on a particular ancestor, are actually quite valuable and clue-ridden when it comes to applying the process of inferential genealogy.
Case 1 took us through the 5-step process:
- State a focused goal;
- Search broadly;
- Understand the documents;
- Correlate the evidence;
- Write down your results.
We were provided several images of documents used to “identify the parents of Maxfield Whiting who married Lettice Johnson in 1753.” (that was our focused goal). Among the documents were marriage records, wills, probate records, a letter written by a father for his daughter, and court records. By the time all was said and done (and with a few hints from Tom Jones), I had correctly identified Maxfield Whiting’s parents. I was very proud of myself!
… until I started on Case 2. But that’s for another post.
We discussed Case 1 in our Just Genealogy group in SecondLife this past Sunday, which helped the the thought process gel a little more in my head (this is a good thing). Here are a couple of things I took away from this part of the course and our discussion:
- CITE YOUR SOURCES! (ok, I already knew that, but it bears repeating)
- When you make assumptions, say so.
- The people you seek may not be the main focus of a record. They could be witnesses, notaries, heirs, informants, etc.
- When two people with the same surname are listed on the same record, it is likely that they are related in some way.
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