Genealogy Studies Program

Revisiting Your Past Genealogy Mysteries

Most of us have research that is ten or twenty years old! We stopped because the answer just wasn’t within our grasp and the answer to “where do I look next?” wasn’t obvious.

Maybe it is time to look again. Not only are there countless online databases that (for a fee) provide amazing arrays of digital images, the free sites, like are bringing records, that were and are rarely used, right into our laptops.

Maybe more important than the easy access to records is the fact that the standards for research have changed. It is more than possible that the answer to your decades’ old identity question can be resolved by following or meeting some of the standards set forth in the 2014 book Genealogy Standards. Here at BU, we use this book as background reading as you work through five modules of method instruction and hands-on research.

Recently a student struggling with an unknown maiden name came face to face with the fact that he had not been doing a “reasonably exhaustive search.” Not only had he never looked for religious records that this problem great-great-grandmother might have created, like a church wedding or baptizing a child, he didn’t even realize this woman had been Catholic.

The fact is, failing to search for an individual’s religious records is the number one most frequently omitted search. Are you considering the large numbers of possible religious records your target person might have created? This student found the unknown maiden name in a contemporary family Bible. What answers are waiting for you in religious records?

Melinde Lutz Byrne