Check with Tourism Agencies
If you want to know more about the area from which your ancestors originated or in which they later lived, a good source is tourism information for the area. This usually will include some local history, maps, heritage sites, and pictures of the countryside.
Many U.S. cities and counties have a magazine-like tourist publication, as do states. Some can be ordered through websites, and they are typically free. Searching with Google for a location plus “tourist information” will provide many sources. I ordered a booklet online from County Fermanaugh, Ireland, because an ancestor was born there in 1722.Â
Travel company brochures are another source. Recently, I clipped a scenic picture of the Rhine River in Germany from a river cruise line catalog. An ancestor of mine was born close to that river and traveled it to Rotterdam to sail to America in 1751. I add these pictures, etc., to my family file on the generation(s) that lived there. Keep in mind that such pictures are under copyright and should not be used in a published family history.
More Help for Hard-to-Read Images
1. Use a screen capture tool. Isolate the part of the image you are having problems with; enlarge it and then quickly run through the edit functions starting with the Sharpen image tool. It is amazing what you can do to improve the image with just that edit feature. Most screen capture tools also let you rapidly change from negative to positive images, sepia to black and white, etc. I use the FastStone Capture tool, which I downloaded for free.
2. If you have a projector (such as for a PowerPoint slide show), project the image as large and as crisply as you can make it. Sometime seeing the image as big as the wall in a room will give you additional clues.
Editorâ€™s Note: The â€œHelp for Hard-to-Read Imagesâ€ article generated quite a few great tips from our readers. If you read the newsletter early on, or didn’t click through to the blog, you can read them now. Thanks to Terry and everyone else who sent in their favorite tips!
Tracing Unusual Given Names
My ancestor, Mary (Polly) Davis, married Taylor Spencer in 1769 in Springfield, Vermont. Taylor wasnâ€™t a problem; I knew his line. Since theirs was only the fifth marriage recorded for that town, I knew Mary must have come from another community. But where? After years of searching, I had almost given up hope of finding her family.
Then I looked at the names of her sixteen children and selected the more unusual ones: Philena, Simon, Simeon, Sampson, Theodosia, and Phineas.
Combining these with the surname Davis, it took just a few minutes to identify her lineage, based on a concentration of several of those same names among her siblings. Further, she was in the list with the known birth year, and the towns where her family had lived were in a logical location–northern Massachusetts.
If you have a suggestion you would like to share with other researchers, send it to: mailto:email@example.com . Thanks to all of this week’s contributors!
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