"DOLLARHIDE'S GENEALOGY RULES," by William Dollarhide
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
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