Saturday, December 03, 2005

Ask The Genealogue

Dear Genealogue,
I found out that my aunt Pauline has pictures of her grandparents — my great-grandparents — that I've never seen. I would love to borrow these and make copies, but she turns me down every time I ask. How can I convince her to share?

Dot in Racine, WI
The key to defusing a situation like this is communication. Assure your aunt that you will handle the photographs with care, and convince her of their importance to your research. Above all, treat her with the respect she deserves. And don't leave any bruises.

Dear Genealogue,
I've almost given up looking for my grandfather, John Smith, in the 1920 census. I know he was living somewhere in southern New England, but there were so many John Smiths living there that I can't be sure I've found the right one. Any tips?

Ralph in Glenside, PA
Tackling such a common name is difficult, but not impossible. Except in your case. Either abandon this line of inquiry, or find a more accommodating grandfather.

Dear Genealogue,
I've heard that the last names of some passengers were changed by immigration officials at Ellis Island. Is this true?

Mandy in Tulsa, OK
No, it's a myth. Their names were changed at a newspaper stand in Grand Central Station.

Dear Genealogue,
I have an extremely faded document handed down on the Jewish side of my family for twelve generations. What's the best way to read it?

Aaron in Brooklyn, NY
From right to left.

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