Friday, October 19, 2012
First a little background on how I came to have this obsession: It was 2010 and I sat down on a Friday evening to do some channel surfing when I came upon the show "Who Do You Think You Are?" The show tracks the ancestral lineage of a celebrity with the help of genealogical experts. On this night it was Sarah Jessica Parker. Her journey took her to Massachusetts, where she found out her tenth great grandmother was accused of being a witch in Salem. It made me curious to see if I could find any witches in my lineage. When I enrolled on Ancestry.com, I realized I had been sucked into a marketing scheme but figured I would subscribe for a month and then cancel my account. It took me about a year before I cut the cable because the website had so much information. When you start doing genealogy you are told to start off with what you know and what is known by others in your family. Then you look for evidence to confirm the information and along the way you track your sources. While working on your genealogy you need to work backwards through time. So you will research and learn about someone's death before their birth. The first sources you seek are primary records, i.e. death, marriage and birth records. Many states only started requiring vital records in the early 1900s. Sometimes they are hard to acquire so then you look for secondary records. One of the best sources for secondary information is the United States Census. The U.S. Census has been performed since the early 1800s, in the early census records only the head of household is named and the number of people in the house. Therefore, you can never be sure you have the right family. Starting in 1850, it was requiring that every person in the household be recorded. This is a wonderful thing for genealogist. For more information on the federal census visit:
I will not go any further in depth about being a genealogist but I will let you know about the resources as I go along. They are too vast to explain in this post.
Oh, and by the way, I still haven't found any witches.