Genealogy #8: Overlooked Sources, part 2

Overlooked Sources, part 2

This is a continuation of a posting about considering sources you might not ordinarily think of when starting your genealogy journey.

2. Family Sources
Another excellent source is a compilation of family stories or books on the family.
Before you decide your family does not have any such items, make sure you search thoroughly.
Often, books or stories were published without certain branches or generations being aware of it.

A great place to check are libraries in the hometowns of your ancestors.
If anything is published, it is often customary for a copy to be presented to the local library.

Also check with far-flung or shirt-tail relatives (so-called because you are related to them distantly, if at all).
They may know or be in possession of items that you did not know existed.

For example, I have several wonderful family memories recorded by family on my mother’s side, but I was sure nothing existed on my father’s side.
But when I visited the library in Curtis, Nebraska, I found that short biographies had been compiled by family members of original pioneers in the area, and published in a single book.
That book not only included a passage on my great-great-grandfather, but also one on his in-laws, my great-great-great-grandparents!

Now, experienced genealogists will tell you that these types of sources are dangerous: memories can be faulty, and often the stories are not only second-hand, but are never properly documented in the first place, leaving them riddled with errors.
But I still maintain, as in a previous series of posts (Family Clues), that even incorrect information can have enough correct bits to put you on the right trail to finding the truth.

When contacting relatives, don’t forget to ask about pictures!
I had never seen a picture of my great-grandparents on the Jones side until I was given one by my uncle.
I did not even know he had it!

I have a couple of pictures of my great-great-grandmother on my mother’s side, but I found another picture that was posted by a distant cousin.
Not just another picture, in this one she is smiling: it is now my favorite picture of her!

One of my dad’s cousins had several pictures of my grandfather, his siblings, and parents.
My dad only had one picture of his father, and that was near the time of his death.
As I never knew my grandfather (he died weeks before I was born) any picture at all is worth a great deal.

More to come in Overlooked Sources, part 3.

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