Research by Association–a Strategy that Works, almost Anywhere

Research by Association–Evidence of identity and origin can be subtle rather than obvious:

…if the original spelling of your ancestor’s surname is unknown…
…if you have a common surname…
…if you have an American name (United States or Canada) and a tradition of being foreign…

Check these sources and create these finding aids–

  1. Affidavits in military records, court and claims records, old newspapers–take special note of the length of time each person has known your ancestor and his family.
  2. Make a mini-census of people associated with your ancestor, add in points of contact for each one, and watch for these persons in the records.  When you find the whole group, you’ll know you have found the right ancestor and his cluster of friends and relatives.
  3. Study ethnic neighborhoods where your ancestor settled first upon arrival in the U.S.–watch closely for concentrations near ports, around churches.  Stop and search.
  4. Architecture and lay out of buildings.  Different cultures lay their building out to accommodate the climate and the terrain.
  5. Special foods enjoyed on Holidays and for celebrations.  Take your list and consult the internet or the Wiki.  You can identify places of origin with foods.
  6. Pet and nicknames used by family members.  Some national groups, with small name pools, use nicknames to give personal identity to each individual.

Identify group migrations–

__Church-sponsored moves following a minister or other leaders–
__Military mercenaries, watch for Irish transplants in Poland or France, and
Scottish soldiers serving in Sweden or Prussia, with name changes.
Most group migrations are already documented–who lead the group, where they sailed from, who they brought with them, and where they settled.  Even their subsequent moves are already recorded.  Look for these in histories and biographies of the leaders or the sponsors of the group.

Your favorite genealogist, Arlene Eakle

PS  On 6-7 June 2014, Holly Hansen and I will conduct a special Research Retreat on Becoming a Genealogy Expert  at the City Limits Convention Center in Colby, Kansas.  If you join us, you will not only WOW your family and friends, you will learn how to extend your pedigree when others give up.  We guarantee it!  Register at

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