"I Cannot Make Out My Ancestor’s Name"

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Are you stumped because you cannot figure out yourancestor’s name? 

There can be several reasons forthis, including:

  •  Someone had poor handwriting, and you cannotread the name.
  • Only the first two initials were recorded, andyou have no idea what they stand for.
  • You only knew your ancestor’s nickname, youwould not recognize his name even if you saw it.

Perhaps some of these suggestions will provide clues to helpyou:

  •       Ask family members to check all the records theyhave that may mention your ancestor (journals, personal histories, legaldocuments).
  •       If you find a name that is abbreviated orillegible on a census, look for an earlier record of the same type.  Maybe you will luck out and discover the fullname was recorded.
  •       Try city directories, church records, orarchived school records.
  •        Look for every newspaper obituary where yourancestor may have been named.
  •       Once you have exhausted one record type, tryother records.  For example, birth,marriage, and death records give additional opportunities for the same personto be recorded.
  •       Search the records for every child and siblingto see if your ancestor’s name appears again on their records.  Check the records that name parents andspouses.
  •       Find out if any other family members were giventhe same name or if naming patterns can provide clues.
  •       Submit a request for research to Genealogists.com.  They have created one of the largest networks of professional genealogists in the world.

Have you ever been stumped in this way?  Be sure to get the next article fromGenealogists.com by clicking on the Subscribe link above.

by Robin Foster © 2014, Genealogists.com. All rights reserved

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Written by


January 21, 2014
Wesley is the founder of hello@traceyourpast.com.

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