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As I was researching my granduncle's military history, I forgot one important detail that I had found when researching my husband's military experience. That is the "yearbook" that most military companies bases or units had. I found my husband's at the local library. That's because the Air Force Base that he was stationed at was located here. My granduncle's photo was located in a book recounting the history of his Infantry Unit during World War I. I was lucky to acquire the photo. Now I have to be on the lookout for the book, perhaps on Ebay or Amazon.


Obituaries can give you a wealth of information about your female ancestor. Look for obituaries of your ancestors' children. They might have more information that is missing from your own. Make sure you look for your missing ancestor by searching her first name or last name, by using her husband's name, by using her initial and last name or by husband's initial and last name. Try every variation you can think of.

Don't Believe Everything in the Census!

When I was looking for my husband's ancestors, I found them in the census, already married and with children. The oldest child, according to that census was born in New Jersey. So I started searching in New Jersey, hoping to find not only the birth record but also the marriage of the couple. Well, I didn't find either the birth nor the marriage. Later, in a subsequent census record, in researching for the daughter, married to my husband's ancestor, I found the mother living with her. Much later, I found Edward Johnson married to Matilda Johnston in New York, not in New Jersey! And what confusion I came across with their last names.

Google Books

Never assume that your ancestor's name never appeared in a book. Look in google books. Google your ancestor's name and you never know when his/her's name will appear.


It's always a good idea to look for all the children of a couple. Do an extensive search, including birth, marriage, and death records. Look for them in the census, and in Mexico, for the civil registrations. If you don't know the parents of one of the parents, sometimes, the baptismal record will name both the paternal and maternal names, expecially when researching in Mexican records.

Census and Directories

If you can't find your ancestor in the census, try looking in the city directories. If you can find him/her in the directory, take note of the address and find someone else with the same address. Then look for that someone in the census. Perhaps you'll find your ancestor as a neighbor.

City Directories

I know that I have written about city directories before. It bears repeating. If the directories you're looking for are not on, or if you don't have a subscription, visit the library of the city where your ancestors lived. Along with the address where they lived, you might find their ages or occupation. Look for people with the same surname, especially within a few pages in the directory. Perhaps they were family. If you can, go to the address and take a photo.

Internet Does not Have All Your Answers

I have been searching a long time for my husband's great grandfather who was from Sweden. I would love to know something about him, where he came from in Sweden, and his family. I learned from the census that he was a ship's captain. After he was married he lived in Brooklyn, NY, with his family. His wife was originally from Newburgh, NY. So I surmised that that was where he met and married her. I set about to search in Newburgh. Through the census and some death records, I found that they had had 3 children, but only two were living. I found the first son listed on a death register from Newburgh online. The second son, my husband's grandfather, was buried in the St. Patrick's Cemet


There are many tips out there for breaking brick walls. I use timelines as well as other tips. Whether it's searching with only first names, surnames, using the mortality schedules or other tips, I keep trying. One of the ways I also try is by using a timeline. Show the family in the census, including the children every ten years, Show the births, deaths, marriages if possible. Look at what other information is out there. Place it in the timeline. Show the neighbors in each census. Use an excel spreadsheet so that you can write as much information as you can.

Mind Your "P's" and "Q's"

When I'm researching, I come across many articles of interest as I'm sure you do. Did you know that way back, at local taverns, pubs and bars, people drank from pint and quart sized containers? A bar maid's job was to keep an eye on the customers and keep the drinks coming. She had to pay close attention and remember who was drinking in "pints" and who was drinking in "quarts", hence the phrase "minding your "P's and Q's". This might be interesting to insert in a story where it might be appropriate.

Conferences (continued)

What a good time I had at the conference. The best part is that I met a wonderful person from California who told me that he had a book that he had received as a gift from a historian from Monterrey. He showed it to me and, wow, what a book! I found several of my ancestors in it. It always amazes me that you can meet some wonderful people at these events. Anyway, this friend saw my interest and offered to lend it to me. I just need to mail it back when I'm finished with it. Aren't some people wonderful!




Harlingen TX United States 78550

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