Research Broadly

While I was attending the FGS Conference one term that I heard by at least three speakers was “research broadly.” It was used in two ways. The first is that you should search for more than just your direct line. Look at facts for brothers and sisters of your direct line. One of my biggest breakthroughs on one family was a probate record for an unmarried brother. His estate papers showed three generations of the family in order to prove his heirs.

The term “research broadly” can also be said in geographic terms. Just because a family lived in one town for their whole life doesn’t mean that all the vital records will be in that town. Oft times woman might go to be with other family members during a pregnancy. So the birth of a child would be in another town away from where the mother lived. I still haven’t figured out why my great-grandfather was born in Elmira, NY when his family lived almost a hundred miles away. Elizabeth Shown Mills pointed out that the family she researched for her historical Novel, Isle of Canes didn’t have a church nearby so they went down the Mississippi to have the children baptized. Marriages might take place out of town at another family member’s house. How many people not only honeymooned at Niagara Falls but also got married there? So think about if you are “researching broadly“ for clues on dates and facts about your families.