08 August 2010

Listening to an Expert Talk about Research: Leslie Huber

I'm in love with a new book. The author, Leslie Albrecht Huber, is an expert researcher. In her book, The Journey Takers, she intersperses the story of her own life journey with that of her ancestors' emigrant journeys. The stories of her discoveries and of their experiences in their life-changing "journey" to the new world is engaging. And I relate to Leslie's research experiences.

But my acquaintance with her book came after I spent a couple of very instructive hours in her classes at the BYU Family History Conference. Leslie gave me permission to quote her in this blog, but I also recommend a visit to her website which is filled with great tips and historical information (http://understandingyourancestors.com/),

On doing research: One thing Leslie recommends is that we dig a little deeper into the sources we already possess to make sure we are extracting everything there--not just the dates and places. Pay attention to clues about occupations, other people in the records, causes of death, the informant, notes added. Recently I have been cataloging a collection of family photos and it is amazing the clues I have found--on the back of one old photo was the order form to hand-color the photo, including the eye and hair color of my great-grandparents (see photo above). It was my great-great grandmother who made the order and her address was included! My personal hint is this: always scan the back of the photo as well as the front and link them together in your e-files.

As I puzzled over a Danish census record one day, wondering what happened to two of the children listed, I suddenly noticed a tiny "2" after the word "gift" (married) for the father. The mother had a "1" by her marriage notation. I looked at their comparative ages. He was much older. After some further research, I found another marriage--his first wife. Leslie is right. It pays to study the records we already have. I know there is still gold to be mined from my husband's great-great grandfather's lengthy pension record. One way I have found to find this valuable information is to completely transcribe the documents involved. It's on my list, Leslie!

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