Several people have asked the Society for tips on how to do genealogy research. This is our standard reply to persons new to genealogical research.
Read and remember this:
The rule that professional historians and genealogists use is:
If a “fact’ does not have a listed source for where you got the fact, the fact is not true and the supposed “fact” did not, and does not, exist! List at least that “Aunt Tillie told me this before she died.”
Therefore, you should always: “Document Your Sources”.
It is important – right from the start – to adopt habits of collecting the information on sources along with your collection of the facts. I repeat: To a historian or genealogist, if a source is not listed for a fact, the fact does not exist!
Document your sources.
It is necessary to document the sources that underpin your findings about your ancestor. The documentation should be by a citation to the actual place you found the information. The source for the fact can be as simple as “my grandmother, Mabel Jones, told me”, or “gravestone at burial site in North Burial Grounds, Providence,” but there should always be a source listed. State the title of the book or record that has the facts. If it is a family story your grandmother told you, say so. The best way to do that is to say: “Interview by [your name] of [aunt Martha’s name] on [the date you talked to aunt Martha]”.
So if you saw a family Bible, at least say “Family Bible in the possession of [who has it] on [the date you know that had the Bible.]”
Source citations serve a number of purposes:
- Source citations provide evidence that the position is true. Scholarly writing is grounded in research that can be repeated by other persons. Citations allow you to demonstrate that your position or argument is thoroughly researched and that it is not just something “made up”. It allows other persons to trace how you got the information, so they know it was not just “made up.”
- Source citations give credit to the original researcher or author. Giving proper attribution to those whose words and research and memories you use is morally (and often legally) the right thing to do.
- Source citations help future readers and historians identify and relocate the source work. Readers will want to relocate a work you have cited, either to verify the information, or to learn more about issues and topics you have worked on. It is important to increase historical preservation and research that future readers should be able to relocate your source works from the information you have included by citations.
Read the following genealogy basics about identifying your ancestors, by Emily Croom. Emily Croom is the author of Unpuzzling Your Past: A Basic Guide to Genealogy, The Unpuzzling Your Past Workbook, The Genealogist’s Companion & Sourcebook, and The Sleuth Book for Genealogists. She has this to say.
“Have you ever known someone whose life would make an intriguing novel or mystery? What about your ancestors? Their lives could read like well-crafted fiction.
Whether your forebears were farmers, craftsmen, or laborers, they deserve your attention. After all, there’s something of them in you. In fact, you may be named after an ancestor. Quick — can you name your four grandparents?”
Genealogy begins at home
- The study of lineages: links between parents and children in each generation
- Family history: experiences and details that make your ancestors’ lives interesting
During the holidays, do you plan to be around or in touch with relatives? What better time to talk and tape record? Question Grandma about her experiences during the Great Depression or Dad about World War II. Ask for their memories of their parents and grandparents. Also, be sure to take time to remember and record your memories of the ancestors you have known.
As you interact with family members, inquire about photos, family Bibles, miscellaneous papers, letters, or scrapbooks. Such items often contain ancestral names, birth and death dates, and other details that help link one generation to the previous one. From relatives and their mementos, gather the names, dates, places, and relationships that link you to your parents, them to their parents, and so forth.
Tips for success
The goal of genealogy is accurate lineages. Be sure to:
- Focus on specific individuals rather than surname origins
- Study ancestors in their time and place
- Learn about siblings and cousins in each generation
- Recognize that family tradition may or may not be accurate
- Work backward one generation at a time; don’t skip one
- Write down — document — where you get your information
- Read a comprehensive genealogy book to sharpen you investigative and documentation skills
- Remember: genealogy software is a convenience, not a requirement.
As you gather information, you will find ancestral names spelled in various ways. Records of the past may spell one person’s name five different ways. Also be alert to the possibility of more than one person with the same name.
When you identify immigrant ancestors, learn everything you can about them in their adopted country before attempting to find them in their native land. Doing this increases your chance of success.
We suggest the following easy four step starter program, it is the easiest way to start if you really have no experience in family research.
Step 1 — Buy a genealogy program for your computer so you can organize the information and download information from others. I cannot emphasis too strongly that using a computer genealogy program is about the only way to organize your information so it is of use to you.
Step 2 — Enter into your computer genealogy program whatever information you do already have.
Step 3 – If you are researching Bucklin family — Join the Joseph Bucklin Society. (See link in the left margin of this page.) The Society will send members a computer disk of database information on the Bucklins in our data base..
Step 4 — Then start researching (and entering into your computer) additional information on your family line. If you are going to do a good genealogy, you should have more than the basic birth and death information. Add to the facts about the person more than their dates of birth and death. Add any information about persons. Start with yourself and your near relatives.
Where to do Research
After collecting details from family sources, investigate public records that tell you more about your ancestors. Millions of records are available, often as a result of your ancestors’ interaction with local, county, state, and federal governments.
- Help identify ancestral relationships, dates, and places
- Often furnish wives’ or mothers’ maiden names, which help you look for their parents
- Give interesting details about ancestral lives
- Are usually the most accurate sources because they were contemporary with the ancestors
You can begin with birth and death certificates and marriage records. States began recording this information at different times. See www.vitalrec.com for information.
Plan to read federal and state census records — potential genealogical gold mines. U.S. censuses from 1850 to 1920 provide individual information, including name, age, birthplace, and occupation. To find out the existence of a person, birthplace, family members, and other information, census records are among the best utilized tools for genealogy research. Census records are available on microfilm in many libraries and archives. Although many are available online at subscription sites, many indexes exist in books, on CD-ROMs, and online at free sites. One good inclusive source to research and read census records is at Census Finder. Their mission is to provide access to all available census records online. This includes both free and paid subscriptions. They fulfill their mission well.
www.tedpack.org/biogd002.html#further is a great site on how to do genealogy research. If you are new to genealogy research, browse here and gain points and tips on getting started.
Ancestors in local and county records
In ancestral communities, genealogists get information from tombstones, religious and educational institutions, public and academic libraries, and newspapers.
County courthouses contain fascinating records, including ancestral land transactions, wills and estate divisions, business licenses, and debt or divorce court records. Some records reveal whether the family owned a piano or what they called the spotted cow!
Local and county records are sometimes available as published abstracts or as original records on microfilm. Furthermore, volunteers sponsor genealogical Web pages for many U.S. counties at www.usgenweb.org.
Other state and federal records
State archives (or state historical societies) may hold early county and tax records, family and business papers, state censuses, and evidence of citizens’ interaction with the state government. To learn about state archives holdings, you can link to their Web sites from www.cyndislist.com. Some of the sites contain indexes and searchable databases.
Genealogists also find ancestors in other federal materials, including military, immigration, land, and Social Security records. As you widen your search, The following Web sites may be helpful:
- Some military pension abstracts: www.usgwarchives.net/pensions
- www.ancestry.com – Largest collection of family history records on the web
- www.cyndislist.com – List of genealogical sites on the Internet
- www.familyhistory.com – 3,000 Family history databases
- www.familysearch.org – International Genealogical Index
- www.historyplace.com – American Revolution
- Rare Maps of Colonial America
- Civil War soldiers and sailors: www.itd.nps.gov/cwss
- Ellis Island passenger arrivals, 1892-1924: www.ellisislandrecords.org
- Federal land patents for some states: www.glorecords.blm.gov under “Search Land Patents”
- Social Security history and information: www.ssa.gov
- National Archives records
- Library of Congress: www.loc.gov
Use search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. Note: different search engines will give you different results for the same search. Also, a search engine program will return different results depending on the order of the words used for the search.
Bucklin Name Variations
Early records in the New World not only sometimes show William’s name as Bucklin, but also sometimes as “Bucklen”, “Buckline”, “Bucknam”, and “Buckland. The records we have in the 1600-1700 period are written by persons who wrote the names as they thought they heard them pronounced. The first written record of William in New England is the Hingham record which spells his name as “Wm. Buckland” for his land grant. We have no documents known to have been signed by William Bucklin.
The spelling in England of the name that sounded like William’s surname at the time of William’s immigration was commonly “Buckland”, although the “Bucklen”, “Buckline”, “Bucknam” variations are not unknown. Researchers in England maintain that also “Buckler” was a sound-alike variation of “Buckland.”
As written records became prevalent, the children of William Bucklin used the spelling “Bucklin” in most of the records. At any rate, the spelling in New England, by the third generation of William’s offspring was firmly “Bucklin”. All the persons in the United States who have the surname “Bucklin” are almost certainly descendants of William.
Occasionally, in the 1800’s (19th century) a person whose father was a Bucklin would decide with the knowledge of youth that the “correct” spelling of the name was something else, and would start using another spelling, sometimes Buckland, or Bucklen, or Bucklyn, depending on their own view of history and their own ear for what the name sounded like to them. The name variations seemed to have died out by the 20th century.
There appear to be persons named Buckland, not of William’s family, in Massachusetts at the end of the 1600’s. [ See Filby & Meyer, Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, (1981), the Guildhall Library, London.] But these persons had offspring who maintained the Buckland name as written records became prevalent.