Your Quick Tips, 07 January 2008

Make Note of Info on Holiday Greetings
It’s that time of year again when we put away Christmas decor for another year. However, take another look at those Christmas letters and notes on cards before you discard or file them. We’ve found them to be full of great bits of information to add to the “notes’ section in our family files. Births, deaths, weddings, graduations, college, even the new automobile, plus other events from the past year will help make the family come to life for the next generation.
Louise Hawley
I wanted to share with your readers a discovery I recently made that has provided me with an incredible look at my past. After my parents passed on, I was sorting some of the old pictures they had kept. I came across more than 600 old negatives–some more than seventy years old–and was curious as to what they contained.

The thought (and cost) of having prints made was daunting until I came across a wonderful company called ( I shipped them the negatives and they returned a CD, a DVD, and a thumbnail album for all 604 pictures. They even provide a personal website where I can view and manage my collection. They kept me posted with e-mails all along the way of the process and are the nicest folks you would ever want to deal with. I now have an amazing story of my family that could not have been obtained elsewhere and many new leads for further research.

Norman B. Buckman

Search for Middle Names
When searching census records, check for the middle name of a male. You’ll find some use the middle name as first name. Also in my searching I’ve learned to check for a Frank=Francis and vice versa.

Don Secor

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6 thoughts on “Your Quick Tips, 07 January 2008

  1. I just wanted to point out to Don and others that he could search for Fran* and it will match with Frances, Francis, Frank, etc. in one search. Sometimes I even just do Fra* to pick up any typos or illegible entries.

  2. Also, check for initials as first names! Some census takers were inordinately lazy, and wrote down only initials instead of names.

    I looked in vain for quite awhile for my Isaac Baldwin, ready to pull my hair out until I realized that his census taker had turned him into “I.B” Baldwin, and the transcriptionist had then changed this to “J.B” Baldwin. Plus, with unusual last names, it’s best to try an open ended search for just the last name.

  3. Don and the commentors bring up some interesting points regarding names and initials. As a newer subscriber who once thought he had a pretty good grasp of nicknames and naming conventions (but now knows he doesn’t), I’m wondering if anyone knows good accessible references for:

    1. A list of given names indexing at least most of the common nicknames (and abbreviations) associated with each.

    2. Which nationalities tend to list (what U.S.Americans tend to think of as) middle names as first names on the Census reports.

    3. An explanation of religious-name considerations (by nationality and/or religion, as applicable) and how they tend to expand the number of names for a person from perhaps 3 to 4 or more.

  4. Names listed for infividuals can vary from census to census. For one family I researched the children were listed one year with first name and middle Initial. The next year they were listed with a first initial and middle name. One of the few times I found middle names for people so could list them with their full names.

  5. Not only males use the middle names sometimes — females also. I had a first name (Edith) for a spouse from church records and other records, but when looking at a death certificate for her husband, it stated his wife’s name was Elizabeth. Later I found her death certificate and her name was Edith Elizabeth.
    Who knew?

  6. I, too, had a g grandmother who ALWAYS, as far as I knew, went by Edna. In one census I found a Mary, with everyone else in the family matching. When I found her death record it was listed as M.E. Who knew, is right!
    Also, regarding the nationalities and names, my husband’s family is German and most of the family used their middle names, or translated from German to the usual American name. Also, some had 4 names instead of 3 and that really muddies the waters.

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