If you missed Lisa A. Alzo's FREE webinar, Beyond the Arrival Date: Extracting More from Passenger Lists, you definitely missed something. It will be available to view for free for at least 10 days. I suggest you head on over there and take advantage of this learning opportunity.
Lisa highly recommends the book, They Came in Ships: Finding Your Immigrant Ancestor's Arrival Record (3rd Edition) which is now on my wish list. I haven't done a lot of immigrant research. On my mother's side, my mother and I were first generation immigrants so the rest of the family is still in Germany as are the ancestors. On my father's side, those persons that immigrated did so in the late 1600s and early 1700s so I haven't had too much luck, especially with their very common names. Lisa's webinar has given me some renewed hope.
Question from Nancy:
"When you are looking at a marriage record which date do you use, the date they got the license or the date they were actually married?"
I use the date that they were actually married. A couple could get a license and then something could happen where they never got married [see the next question for an example of that]. When looking at marriage documents you are going to see all kinds of different dates depending on what part of the country and the time frame. Here are some definitions for you.
Marriage Banns - This is when the couple announced their intention to marry. Usually this was done every Sunday for three weeks prior to the marriage in the groom's church and in the bride's church. This was an opportunity for anyone with an objection to the marriage to voice it.
Marriage Bond - The couple signed a statement saying that there was no legal reason why they couldn't get married. A bond would be posted as an assurance that the statement was true. If the statement turned out to be false, the bond would be forfeited. After the statement was signed and the bond was posted then the couple would be issued a license to marry.
Marriage License - The license was (and still is) issued by the county clerk and not by the church. This license gave permission for a clergyman or JP to marry the couple.
Marriage Certificate - When the couple actually married then they were issued a certificate. The certificate could come from the church or from the county clerk depending on the time frame of the marriage.
The earlier the marriage the more likely it would be the banns/church certificate route. The later the marriage then the more likely it would be the bond/license/certificate issued by the clerk route. You need to know the custom at the time and the place of the particular marriage.
Question from William:
"I have an uncle that was married 3 times. I have all of his marriage licenses. Do you think I should also get his divorce records from his first two marriages as well?"
I would. You never know what clue you might find. If the documents are available then why not get them. I have a half granduncle who was married 4 times (that I know of). He also had a license with another lady but they never went through with the marriage. I did get all of his divorce records. This man moved around quite a bit and these extra documents helped me put together a more accurate timeline.
Another question from William:
"How much time do you spend working on your research every day?"
Hmmmmmmm. A lot? It all depends on what counts. I not only do research on my own family but I do research for others. I also volunteer my time for other genealogy projects and I write this blog. Add it all up then my answer stands at "a lot." If you only want to know how much I spend researching my own family then the answer would be, "not as much." There is no way you are going to get me to admit exactly how much time I spend working on this stuff because if I did, my answer would have to be, "too much."
Question from Emmie:
"Do you just research your direct lines or do you research the families of the spouses?"
I research everybody that has any contact with my direct line. There are so many reasons for this. One is that in the deep south where I do most of my research the families intertwine like you wouldn't believe. On the surface someone might only be a spouse but once you start filling in the blanks you find out that she is also a third cousin. Researching the families surrounding your own may be the only way you can follow your own family back in time. Many times associated families and neighbors traveled together. If you can't follow your own folks back you might be able to trace a neighbor back to the correct location you need. It was common for children of neighbors to marry. You will be missing out on a lot if you limit yourself to your direct lines only.
Question from Dave:
"Do you take your laptop with you when you are going to courthouses and libraries and such?"
Yes I do. I used to do everything on paper and then I would transfer it to the computer (desktop) when I got home. Now that I have a laptop I can skip a step. One day I will get a smart phone or an iPad or something so that I can travel lighter. There are programs out there that will synch with your laptop. Many genealogists keep their data files in "the cloud" [for example, Dropbox] so that they can access their files from any device, anywhere. I am not quite to that point yet.
Copyright © 2012 Michele Simmons Lewis