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Case Studies in Genealogy

Case studies in genealogy offer the opportunity to learn from the research mistakes and successes of others, and can often teach you about research methodologies or unique resources or records that you may not have otherwise encountered.

Saved By Her Corset! The Fascinating Tale of Dora Bowman
A yellowed newspaper clipping tucked behind the photograph of a woman identified as Dora Bowman in an old photo album was just the beginning of this fascinating tale...

Researching Family Trees Online: Moving Beyond Beginner Mistakes
Learn how to avoid basic beginner traps and mistakes when researching your family tree online through this step-by-step case study of James Jewel as researched online by a novice genealogist.

Genealogy Research in Action: Neil Armstrong
Learn how to begin your family tree where most of us do -- by researching twentieth century ancestors -- in this step-by-step romp through the family tree of American astronaut Neil Armstrong.

Genealogy Research in Action: Robert Lee Frost
Learn how to use a variety of search techniques to trace a family through the census, using the family of poet Robert Lee Frost as an example.

Genealogy Research in Action: Laura Ingalls Wilder
This case study using the family of Laura Ingalls Wilder walks you through many of the records and resources available online, with tips for how to pull them all together into a cohesive family tree.

The "Real" French Ancestry of J.K. Rowling
Author J.K. Rowling was always told growing up that her maternal great-grandfather, Louis Volant, was a Legion d'honneur recipient. Digging into the family -- research which could amazingly be done all online in digitized records -- tells a slightly different story. There were two men in France with the fairly uncommon name of Louis Volant. Both were born within a year of one another, both served in the French Army during WWI, and both died in France in 1949. Yet, somehow, J.K. Rowling ended up attached to the wrong one.

mystery box
Learn how to use a variety of online genealogical research techniques to research a family tree online. This case study using the family of Laura Ingalls Wilder was written specifically to help walk readers through many of the records and resources available online, with tips for how to pull them all together into a cohesive family tree.

Ella's 1874 Pocket Diary
An 1874 pocket diary filled with handwritten entries, found in a New York antique store, was the start of an intriguing search for the name of the diary's author.

Special Delivery for Miss Elsie Townley
An empty envelope addressed to Miss Elsie Townley, Cabin C-47 on the ship Georgic, docked in New York City harbor, was just the first step in a search for her story -- a story that led from NYC, to Pennsylvania to Chicago to Oregon to Wisconsin and, finally, to her family in London, England.

Footprints of Jerome Bettis' Family Tree
The appearance of Pittsburgh Steelers star Jerome Bettis on NBC's "Who Do You Think You Are?" is used here as an example of just how many little footprints to someone's family tree you can find online. And, in this case, why online research all by itself is almost always not enough.

Footsteps to Blair Underwood's Family Tree
Prior to his appearance on NBC's "Who Do You Think You Are?," there wasn't much information online about Blair Underwood's family tree. Just trying to locate the maiden name of his mother took some digging, yet with some creative online research, you can actually uncover quite a bit of his family tree.

Small Nuggets - The Death of Gold Prospector John S. Hodge
The "Who Do You Think You Are?" episode featuring Sarah Jessica Parker touched on a number of interesting genealogy research dilemmas - including what to do when you encounter conflicting information. In this case, the conflicting information was an obituary for the son of Sarah Jessica Parker's fourth great grandfather, John S. Hodge, which stated that he died en route to the California gold rush in 1849, while his son, John Eber Hodge, was apparently born in late 1850 or in 1851. How, then, could John S. Hodge be the father of John Eber Hodge?

Case Studies: Learning By Example
These hand-selected case studies, plus others, give us a glimpse into research problems that we ourselves may face in our own genealogy searches, approached through the eyes and experience of leaders in the genealogical field.

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