Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Philadelphia Genealogy: Family Records

In Philadelphia Genealogy: Getting Started, the assignment was to start with yourself. Make sure you have a place to store your information, whether a program (FamilySearch compatible programs) or website (such as FamilySearch Family Tree or If you use online trees make sure you keep your own personal copy of the information on your hard drive and back it up to another hard drive or "the cloud."


The next step: survey your family. Do you have any family members who are genealogists? Have they done work on the lines you're researching? Does anyone have family pictures and documents? 

Start asking around. Talk to parents and grandparents, if they're still living, as well as more distant relatives. 

Copy Photos and Documents

Make arrangements to copy information. Often you will find that people who save family information tend to be very possessive, so it can take some delicate negotiation to get copies. There are a number of tools available now so you can copy documents and pictures on location, including cameras and tripods or laptops and scanners. Even a smart phone can take pictures of important documents, if that's the only way you are allowed to make copies. If you do have some latitude as to how you can copy family pictures and documents, photos or high resolution scans are the best, but try to get at least 300 dpi images.

If pictures are not labeled, talk to family members for identification. If you are on social media, Facebook, for example, a family network could help with this process.

Case Study: The Lintons

My grandmother's grandmother, Mary Linton Morgan, was the genealogist in the family. She spent many years doing genealogical research. After her death her documents ended up with her granddaughter Helen. Helen's family didn't know what to do with the boxes, but fortunately instead of throwing them out, they gave them to my father. He digitized the entire collection and since it contains a number of valuable historical documents, he donated it to a university library. A digital copy is available for use at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.

So, how would you know how to find similar collections for your family, if they exist? This series will cover the answers in subsequent installments.

Back to the Lintons. There is limited Linton/Philadelphia material in the Mary Linton Morgan collection, although it does contain the autobiography of Samuel Linton previously excerpted on this blog. Mary mostly worked on her mother's and husband's lines.

More information, including pictures, was available from my Linton cousins. Ten years ago when I moved to the Philadelphia region I got into contact with some of my Linton cousins who were working on the genealogy, and I have been in contact with them ever since. My father and I have shared family information and used some of theirs over the years, including this picture of Samuel Linton, also used previously on this blog. Samuel is sitting in the center between his daughter and the family historian Mary (in the plaid blouse), and his wife Ellen Sutton Linton, showing the ravages of cancer.


Talk to your family. Find out who might own memorabilia. Get in contact and make an appointment to visit and discuss the family heritage. If no seems to do genealogy, check on FamilySearch, Ancestry, and other genealogy databases like MyHeritage to see if someone is working on the family lines. Contact them, if possible, and discuss your common heritage.

Philadelphia Genealogy: index to all articles in this series

No comments:

Post a Comment