Monday, January 03, 2011

Sometimes Searching Means More than Just a Surname

As genealogists, we get use to searching everywhere for our ancestor's surname.  Afterall, that makes sense right? We are looking for specific people and so we should look for them, typically by surname.

Surname searching is useful in many types of databases and  indexes. However, surname searching will only get you so far. It is also important to incorporate in your search the name of the locality your ancestor resided, what religion they were a member, their occupation and other affiliations.  And sometimes, searching means looking page by page.

I've been getting ready for presentations that I am delivering at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy.  One of my classes has to do with finding images for your family history narrative.  One example I am using  is a photo from an Images of America book by Arcadia Publishing.  This book on Snowflake, Arizona by Catherine H. Ellis has a photo that involves my grandmother but you would never know it unless you took a close, careful look. You will not find this in an index of the book, through Google Books.  It's a good example of making it a priority to look for resources on local history and to not believe everything is in the index.

On page 67 is a photo of two women holding up a quilt, with an enlargement of two of the quilt squares. Below is the bottom of that page with my grandmother's (Clara M. Nikolaus) quilt block on the left hand side.

If I strictly limited my research to surname searching I would miss out on learning about this signature quilt block made by my grandmother. Her name does not appear in the text for this page, you would have to examine the photo see her name.

As the much used phrase instructs, "think outside of the box" you never know what you might find.

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