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Monday, July 18, 2016

How Do You Research After 1940?

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You found your ancestor on the 1940 Census with her parents, but you do not know enough about the family to research them further. No one in the family remembers anything that can help you find more documentation. What should you do? Follow along to learn about a few different records that may help you learn more.

Family in 1940
Forty-two year old Maggie D. Kelly is the head of household in 1940 in Alma, Militia District 1390, Bacon County, Georgia. Living with her are the following children:
  • Otis Kelly, 24 year old son born in Georgia
  • Julian Parker, 16 year old son born in Georgia
  • Geneva Parker, 14 year old daughter born in Alabama

According to the 1940 Census, they all lived in the same residence in 1935.

Family in 1930
Geneva and her brother, Julian Parker, were on the 1930 Census in Birmingham, Alabama along with their mother as the stepchildren of Patrick Kelly:
  • Patrick Kelly, 38
  • Maggie Kelly, 38
  • Otis Kelly, 14
  • Ovido Kelly, 11
  • Julian Parker, 7
  • Geneva Parker, 4


Make observations
It is a good idea to try to use the information on records to make preliminary observations, but do not make assumptions about things that you cannot prove. Some observations that you can make with this family given the two census records are:

Everyone except Geneva was born in Georgia. Geneva and Julian would not be on the 1920 Census. The problem now is that no one knows enough to find earlier records on this family. Even though you know that everyone except Julian and Geneva was born in Georgia, you do not know where in Georgia. Without knowing which county, finding them is difficult.

It looks like the children of Patrick are Otis and Ovido. Ovido is not a common name, so at first glance it may look like a spelling error. The only way to tell would be to search out other records to document her. You cannot assume that all of the children of Patrick and Maggie are listed. They could have had children older than Otis.
It really is difficult to tell who the parents of Julian and Geneva are. You have to wonder how they became part of the household with the last name Parker. Were they Geneva’s children by someone else or did they have totally different parents?

Where to look
At this point you may have no idea where to turn to learn more. Each situation like this is different. The ideal records to look for first are death records, and you should search each person in the family group as opposed to only focusing on your ancestor. Many researchers do not realize that the death records of a child can often help you learn more about the parent. The birthplace of the parent and the maiden name of the mother are a few important facts you can learn from death records. The more children that you have to research, the more chances you have to learn or find clues.

You must know the place where each child was living to find a death record, but sometimes the child died in one place and was buried in another. Some resources that are generated from a death include:
· Death certificate
· Funeral home record
· Obituary
· Find A Grave memorial
· Cemetery record

Here are records that were discovered after researching the deaths of the Kelly-Parker family:
1. Julian W. Parker was a military veteran, and his mother, Maggie, ordered a headstone for him on June 23, 1948. This is where the name of the cemetery (Rose Hill) where Julian was buried was discovered.
2. A memorial for Julian W. Parker was found on Find A Grave.
3. Other family members were also discovered in the same cemetery:
· Ovida Kelly Baston This gives insight on the spelling of her name and gives her married name.
Given the new information gleaned from these resources, where would you look next?

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