Archiver > TRANSITIONAL-GENEALOGISTS-FORUM > 2010-11 > 1289248546

From: <>
Subject: Re: [TGF] NGSQ Recommendations
Date: Mon, 8 Nov 2010 14:35:46 -0600
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In-Reply-To: <3EE5B6A00E9C4B69B9CE78BA6EAC1F3A@D9WXC981>

Joseph wrote:
>TGF Listers......In the same vein as the NGS Quarterly articles listed
below: My research period is c1725 and earlier in Colonial America
(centered in Delaware & the Chesapeake Bay area). If one has reached a
seeming dead end using wills, tax lists, land documents, & court records
back to the Dutch and one has had a "go" at the Friends and Neighbors
approach, what then?

You have offered an intriguing description of your application of the
"friends and neighbors approach"---i.e., you "had a 'go' at it. Would we be
remiss in interpreting that as, "Well, I tried it a bit but didn't seem to
be getting anywhere ...."? <g>

It may help to think of genealogical research as a bull's eye. Our specific
ancestor is the target. When we start to research a newly identified
ancestor, that's who we focus on. Much of the time (or MOST of the time, in
some areas!), we do seem to run out of records before we find the clear-cut
evidence we need to identity his family or sort him from other same-name

At that point, we need to move out a ring on the bull's eye--i.e., we extend
the search to all known kin and all records created by those known kin. If
that does not produce the evidence we seek, we move out to another ring of
the bulls' eye: others of the same surname who are in the same area but
aren't known to be kin. From there, if need be, we move out another ring to
known associates--and, eventually, to the ring we might call "associates of

As we visualize that bull's eye, we see that our core "target" (our specific
ancestor) is a very small one. As we move outward on those rings, the target
gets bigger and bigger, the range of possibilities gets greater and greater,
and the amount of time needed to cover all possibilities also increases. The
problem that most researchers have when they first try the FAN Club approach
is that they don't want to invest very much time in those Friends,
Associates, and Neighbors. That's why the FAN Club Principle fails them.

For the time period in which you are stuck, the odds of finding a record
that explicitly states an answer to our problem are relatively slim. The
odds of finding it in a document that is conveniently indexed under our
ancestor's name are even slimmer. Even if we do, we still have to prove that
the document does relate to our ancestor and not another person of the same
name--and sorting out same name individuals in record-poor areas typically
involves a significant amount of work on that FAN Club. More likely, the
eventual solution to your problem will come from building a case on the
basis of indirect evidence that you glean from all rings on that bull's eye.

You also wrote:
>Are there similar articles which SKS could recommend which have strategies
beyond the above, even though of a "last resort" nature, which have a viable
research rationale (I've utilized DNA....had to, to get to 1725).

Given the variety of settlers in Delaware and the Chesapeake, it's difficult
to recommend specific articles with other approaches for that time and
place, without knowing the ethnic identity of the family. Scandinavian
settlers, for example, involve issues different from German or Quaker or
early African-American or tri-racial families there.

The best way to identify all possible articles on your time and place--or
articles that illustrate a specific methodology--is to check PERSI (the
topical index to genealogical periodicals) at,
HeritageQuestOnLine, and other sites.

Best wishes,
Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG

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