Monday, December 3, 2012

Questions About Inventories, Heraldry and Letters Behind SSNs.

Public Service Announcement: Don't forget to catch Mary Hill's FREE webinar, The Big 4 U.S. Record Sources. It will remain free until 10 Dec 2012. Here is the description, "Research in the United States depends upon census, vital, land, and probate records, the bread and butter of American research. Get an overview of each type of record. Learn where to find them and how to use them effectively in your research.". Please take advantage of all the great free teaching that is out there.

Question from Mel:
"I have my 3rd great-grandfather's estate papers (some of them). I have the inventory of his estate. I am not sure what I am supposed to be looking for here. Does this inventory tell me something that I am not seeing? It is just a list of his property and how much each item is worth."

The inventory will give you a general idea of of the person's wealth and possibly tell you what his trade was based on what items he owned. I found an excellent article about inventories by Patricia Law Hatcher,, CG, FASG, Probate Inventories: A Window to Your Ancestor’s World, that you might want to read.

Harold asks:
"My mother has a coat of arms for her family. How do I know if it is real?"

Heraldry (the study of coats of arms) is a very complex subject. To get you started on your quest to learn more, take a look at the FamilySearch's list of Heraldry articles.

If you mother paid a company to research her family and produce a coat of arms I can pretty much tell you that it is completely bogus. There are many companies out there that will tell you they will find your coat of arms if you tell them your surname. I went to such a website just now and plugged in my maiden name of Simmons. It gave me a nice coat of arms and then they gave me the opportunity to order all kinds of things with the crest on it. BOGUS!!! Different countries have different rules but in general a coat of arms was awarded to an individual, not to a family.

Someone on the Transitional Genealogists Forum (TGF) mailing list asked what the letter "A" behind a social security number meant.

And someone else on the list gave the ANSWER. I thought you might like to know about this too since this was new information to me.

Copyright © 2012 Michele Simmons Lewis


  1. Just visiting today, but may have some questions later. I've been on GeneaBloggers for two months. What a great community of bloggers this is.