Friday, March 1, 2013


Bill Dollarhide has prepared the following 45 amusing pointers for

genealogy researchers. While each aphorism is intended to produce a chuckle

or two, each contains an important element of genealogical truth as well.

Consider #17: "Finding the place where a person lived may lead to finding

that person's arrest record." The point of #17 is that researchers must keep

an open mind. No one knows what is around the next bend in one's ancestral


1. Treat the brothers and sisters of your ancestor as equals, even if some

of them were in jail.

2. Death certificates are rarely filled in by the person who died.

3. When visiting a funeral home, wear old clothes, no make-up, and look

like you have about a week to live. The funeral director will give you

anything you ask for if he thinks you may be a customer soon.

4. The cemetery where your ancestor was buried does not have perpetual

care, has no office, is accessible only by a muddy road, has snakes, tall

grass, and lots of bugs--and many of the old gravestones are in broken

pieces, stacked in a corner under a pile of dirt.

5. A Social Security form SS-5 is better than a birth certificate because

few people had anything to do with the information on their own birth


6. The application for a death certificate you want insists that you

provide the maiden name of the deceased's mother, which is exactly what you

don't know and is the reason you are trying to get the death certificate in

the first place.

7. If you call Social Security and ask where to write for a birth

certificate, tell them it is for yourself. They won't help you if you say

you want one for your great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather who

died in 1642.

8. When you contact your home state's vital statistics office and ask if

they are "online" and they respond, "on what?" you may have a problem.

9. An 1850 census record showing all 12 children in a family proves only

that your ancestors did not believe in birth control.

10. Work from the known to the unknown. In other words, just because your

name is Washington doesn't mean you are related to George.

11. With any luck, some of the people in your family could read and

write--and may have left something written about themselves.

12. It ain't history until it's written down. (See #19.)

13. A genealogist needs to be a detective. Just gimme da facts, Ma'am.

14. Always interview brothers and sisters together in the same room. Since

they can't agree on anything about the family tree, it makes for great fun

to see who throws the first punch.

15. The genealogy book you just found out about went out of print last


Click Here For the entire 45 Fun Rules

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