But what did the citizens of the United States think about genealogy 100 years ago? Indications can be found in historical newspapers.
In 1911, Bostonians worried about social correctness:
A genealogical blog of reflections about my family history and my experiences as a genealogist.
Genealogy has recently been touted as the number two hobby in the United States. Pretty popular stuff, analyzing the ahnentafel, perusing the pedigree, tracing the tree...I've got a million of 'em!
But what did the citizens of the United States think about genealogy 100 years ago? Indications can be found in historical newspapers.
In 1911, Bostonians worried about social correctness:
A 1912 Pennsylvania paper kindly recognized genealogy as an acceptable career! Whew!
Far south in New Orleans, the bite of the genealogy bug was discussed.
This 1915 California clipping implies respect was being given to “Genealogy Bodies.”
Meanwhile, in Washington D.C. the implication was that genealogy was beginning to serve evolutionary thought.
In 1918 an Oregon newspaper reported residents of Mexico were worried about proving themselves to be “Americans” in view of US passport requirements. As if Mexico wasn’t part of America....
Concurrently, Nebraskans concerned themselves with animal genealogy.
Admit it, the horse genealogy is fascinating!
They were natives.
They also came from Barbados, Costa Rica, Great Britain, Jamaica, Peru, Spain, the United States, and countless other countries.
They were artisans, clerks, dredgers, food service workers, helpers, painters, messengers, and steam shovel operators.
Who were they and what were they doing?
Constructing the Panama Canal.
If your family lore includes stories of a relative working on the Panama Canal, you may be able to confirm or deny that rumor.
National Archives Record Group 185, known as the “Records of the Panama Canal” contains alphabetically arranged service record cards of individuals employed between 1904 and 1920.
“The card includes information such as name, legal residence, department where they worked, date of appointment, date they entered duty, their position, age, place of birth, salary, home address, changes in their position, and leave of absence, sailings, and other miscellaneous items.”
If you aren’t up for a trip to College Park, Maryland where these records are held, you may find what you need in Family Search’s online collection entitled, “United States, Panama Canal Zone, Employment Records and Sailing Lists.”
In addition to service records, this collection also contains metal check issue card requests, and photo-metal applications.
Metal checks were what the employees had to produce in order to be paid. You can read more about the Panama Canal metal checks at Plowman’s Coins of Panama. The applications questions included, name, date of employment, date of birth or age and nationality. Thumbprints are also on the cards.
Interestingly, the Photo-Metal Checks were only issued for about 16 months during World War I. They allowed employees into restricted areas.
The Photo-Metal Check applications are wonderfully rich genealogical documents. In addition to their name and the occupation they held, other information included their hourly or monthly wage, citizenship, date and place of birth, marital status, sex, height, weight, and “physical deformities or peculiarities...” These applications also often included a picture of the individual. The back of the sheet contained the applicant’s full set of fingerprints and prints of the entire four fingers of each hand. Apparently, these employees were paid in silver.
While there are thousands upon thousands of images in this collection with no index, I found that a simple search for the name with the place and year of birth brought up Egbert Maynard’s Photo-Metal application—complete with picture:
If you have relatives you cannot find on the 1910 US federal census, maybe they were in Panama.
A 1790 act of the first Congress, dated 1 March, mandated the various US marshals also undertake duties as the county’s first census enumerators:
“...hereby authorized and required to cause the number of the inhabitants within their respective districts to be taken; omitting in such enumeration Indians not taxed, and distinguishing free persons, including those bound to service for a term of years, from all others; distinguishing also the sexes and colours of free persons, and the free males of sixteen years and upwards from those under that age....”
Enumeration was to begin on 2 August 1790. The marshals were given the power to appoint assistants at their discretion to help make the returns. Assistants were given nine months to complete the task and make their returns to the marshal. Both were to be bound by oath before beginning their service.
Assistants failing to make their return, making a false return, or failing to make their return by the deadline to the marshal would forfeit $200. Marshals failing to file their returns or failing to return their aggregate amounts to the president on time—1 September 1791—would forfeit $800 per occurrence.
So just how much did they earn?
Assistants received one dollar for every 150 people returned who resided in the country and $1 for every 300 residing in towns with populations of more than 5000 people. The marshal was allowed to adjust the assistant’s compensation as he saw fit for sparsely populated divisions--not to exceed $1 for every 50 people. Before making his return, the assistant was required to:
“...cause a correct copy, signed by himself, of the schedule, containing the number of inhabitants within his division, to be set up at two of the most public places within the same, there to remain for the inspection of all concerned....”
Producing and posting those copies garnered the assistant an additional four dollars.
Compensation for the marshals, designated by the congressional act, ranged from $200 for the Connecticut marshal to $500 for the Virginia marshal.
All in all, an estimated 650 enumerators counted 3,929,214 resident at a cost of $44,000.
Flash forward to 2010.
It took 635,000 enumerators to count 308,745,538 residents. No, wait, that’s not right.
The enumerators of 2010 actually only visited households who couldn’t be reached by the US Postal System or who did not return the census questionnaire mailed to them. These 21st century enumerators received a 164 page Enumerator Manual. In it were topics like “Who’s Who in NRFU” and “Safety.” In addition to daily pay, they were also reimbursed for their mileage.
It’s likely the marshals in 1790 received little more than the instructions in the congressional act. I envision it was something like:
Go get some paper and a pen and ink, and some helpers if you need them, and go and ask these six questions of every household and count every person in each household in your district. Send the aggregate numbers back by 1 September 1791 or you won’t get paid.
But I digress...back to 2010.
According to a 2012 Census Bureau report, there were 47,000,000 households in the 2010 census who did not respond to the mailings and had to be visited by an enumerator. 
Now, for a wee bit o’ math using the Bureau's numbers:
308,745,538 people ÷ 131,704,730 households = 2.34 people per household
2.34 people X 47,000,000 households = 109,980,000 people.
The cost of the 2010 census: $12,900,000.
From barely a cent per resident in 1790 to eleven point four cents per resident in 2010.
In 1790 there were six questions each enumerator asked; in 2010, there were 10 you answered yourself unless you were a Nonresponse Follow Up (NRFU) household. In that case an enumerator asked them.
220 years and four additional questions later, the greatest country on earth failed to conduct a census more efficiently than the marshals did on horseback, dodging bears and wolves, in 1790.
I think the 1790 marshals did it better.
"1790 Instructions," United States Census Bureau, accessed 7 October 2018, https://www.census.gov/history
 “2010 Census Nonresponse Followup Contact Strategy Experiment,” United States Census Bureau, accessed 7 October 2018, https://www.census.gov/library/publications/2012/dec/2010_cpex_174.html
How do you record names in your genealogical research?
There is a method for the madness, a way to make sure there is clarity.
It may not seem important now, but when you pore back over 20+ years of research, you’ll be glad you followed these general guidelines because it makes it easy to pick out a last, maiden, married or nick name at a glance. Always try to record names in their entirety having your research to support them.
Last names should always be completely capitalized:
SCHMIDT not Schmidt.
A lady’s maiden name should always be completely capitalized within parentheses unless she is unmarried: (JINGLEHEIMER).
There should be no parentheses for the unmarried female: JINGLEHEIMER
A man named after his father is typically a “junior”:
John Robert SCHMIDT, Jr.
This will usually hold true unless the dad is named after the grandfather. If that is the case, the son becomes the third:
John Robert SCHMIDT III
Be aware that sometimes, after the death of the dad, the son drops the “Jr.” Also be aware that because a sibling would often name a child after one of his own brothers, the “Jr.” designation was to let people know which one was the uncle, and which one was the nephew.
While females don’t carry designations such as “junior” or “the third,” their names can be even more confusing—think about girls who are the daughters of sisters who married brothers. A young Elizabeth SCHMIDT may not be the daughter of Elizabeth (JINGLEHEIMER) SCHMIDT, but rather the daughter of Elizabeth’s sister, Jane (JINGLEHEIMER) SCHMIDT, who named her daughter after her favorite sister, Elizabeth.
Male or female, nicknames are to be placed in quotation marks after the middle name:
John Robert “Bob” SCHMIDT, Jr. or: Ann Elizabeth “Betsy” (JINGLEHEIMER) SCHMIDT.
Women who married more than once can have extremely long names, genealogically speaking:
Ann Elizabeth “Betsy” (JINGLEHEIMER) SCHMIDT MILLER SANTIAGO.
In this example, Ann was born a JINGLEHEIMER. She married a SCHMIDT who died of cholera. After an appropriate mourning time, she married a MILLER who was killed in the war. Her last husband was a SANTIAGO. Each one of her last names could provide clues to more genealogical records.
What’s in a name? Genealogically speaking—perhaps a wealth of clues for research!
Learn more in this helpful article: The Importance of Names and Naming Patterns by Donna Przecha via Genealogy.com.
Simple resolution 160 was introduced in the US Senate by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), on 12 September 2001 and passed on 26 September 2001.
It designated the month of October 2001 as “Family History Month.”
While the resolution did not designate the month of October Family History Month in perpetuity, its devotees continue to commemorate it as such, celebrating heritage in a variety of ways.
Below are 20 ideas, be ye beginner or seasoned researcher, to help you get involved.
1. Go to Grandma’s ATTIC and see what treasures abound—ask her first and have her give you the skinny about the loot you find....
2. Pursue BOARD CERTIFICATION—get those credentials!
3. Visit a family CEMETERY and collect vital information from the gravestones.
4. Take a DNA test. And make yourself accessible!
5. Research goal: determine from whence your first generation U.S. ancestor EMIGRATED.
6. Begin writing your FAMILY HISTORY.
7. Use a GAZETEER (or two or three...) to trace your family’s migration.
8. Consult HISTORY books to learn more about the areas where your ancestors lived.
9. Research goal: determine your first generation U.S. ancestor’s port of IMMIGRATION.
10. Attend a LOCAL GENEALOGY SOCIETY meeting to learn more.
11. Look for MANUMISSION PAPERS in the court houses of the counties where your ancestors lived.
12. Delve into NATURALIZATION RECORDS for more information about your first generation U.S. ancestor.
13. Record the ORAL HISTORY of your oldest living relative and, with their permission, donate a copy to a local archive.
14. Fill out your PEDIGREE CHART.
15. Confer with a professional RESEARCHER when you need help.
16. SCRAPBOOK those old photographs in that shoe box; please try to use acid-free, archival quality papers.
17. Utilize TAX RECORDS to find that elusive ancestor between censuses.
18. Research goal: focus on one UNKNOWN during October 2018 and turn it into a known.
19. Research goal: see how many copies of or actual VITAL RECORDS as you can obtain during October 2018.
20. Start a family WEBSITE.
Let me know what you find and please share your ideas!
Happy Family History Month!
“Oh Honey, this is simply beautiful!” my 85-year-old mother exclaimed.
She was commenting on my latest labor of genealogical love: a five-generation harlequin pedigree chart of my ancestors along with my husband’s.
Available for purchase at Fun Stuff for Genealogists.com
It took several weeks to complete: finding the font I wouldn’t mind looking at until the Second Coming, acquiring truly clear glue dots, checking and double-checking spellings and dates, making each generation was the correct size to fit into the corresponding box, printing it all out on vellum without smudging it, and don’t forget the cutting.
LOTS of cutting. Yes, our wedding information is in the heart....
My daughter came by to visit on Sunday while I was away. They looked at the pedigree and my daughter commented on what a good job I had done.
“She agreed with me that is was simply beautiful,” the Senior Citizen reported. “But we have one question.”
“What’s that?” I asked, wincing mentally.
“We want to know why you didn’t put Michael’s sister on there. Did you forget her? And where are your brother and sister on there? And why aren’t your kids on there?”
It became crystal clear that all this had probably been stickin’ in her craw since she first saw it but she didn’t say anything. Until she found a questioner in crime....
“Well, that’s actually three questions, but the answer’s the same: it’s a pedigree chart—my and Michael’s ancestors are the ones who go on there. Not our siblings or our kids. Family group sheets show kids and, therefore, siblings.”
This free form and others available at Ancestry.com
“But why isn’t Mike’s sister...mmmm....”
“Yes, Liz! Why isn’t she on there?” Then, lower, “Is he upset because you didn’t put her on there?”
“What? No! He knows she doesn’t go on there!”
“Well, why doesn’t she go on there? Sharon’s her mom too!”
“I know Sharon is her mom. But Liz is a sibling, a collateral relative, not a direct line descendant in this chart. Siblings go on family group sheets.”
“Huh.” Clearly unconvinced.
“Think about like this: Where would I have put her? Where would I have put Steve and Tanya (my brother and sister)? Where would I have put YOUR seven brothers and sisters at the next level? The chart would have had to have been about eleventy feet tall to fit all those people in and it would be very confusing.”
“Ohhh. I guess that could be true. It would be a lot of people.”
Next labor of love: eleventy family group sheets!
To some, genealogy is nothing more than a bunch of names and a bunch of dates with some places thrown in.
To the rest of us, it is so much more.
A name gives identity and a date places a person at a point along history’s timeline. That point can give us insight into a person’s life or the lives of those around them.
Where was I on 14 June 2008? In Lexington, Kentucky—it was my wedding day, a second chance for happiness.
So much more.
A recent appearance on The Travel Channel’s Dead Files as the local genealogist soundly reinforced this, albeit on a much sadder note.
I was interviewed regarding a tragedy that occurred in Clark County, Kentucky on 30 July 1892. On that day six children drowned. Four Farney brothers and two Brock brothers.
The names, Farney and Brock are not unusual. The date by itself is also unremarkable. However, the date in conjunction with the names, and the location of Clark County, Kentucky gives us the “so much more.”
One family buried two children at the same time; the other buried four.
So much more.
The preceding two weeks’ blogposts, Marriage Records Part 1 and Marriage Records Part 2, examined documents that imply intent to marry. This week’s post will wrap up the marriage records series by taking a look at records that help prove a marriage actually took place.
Previously we looked at banns, bonds, consents, licenses and applications and their respective roles leading up to a marriage. Today, we’ll explore returns, registers and certificates.
Marriage returns were typically completed by ministers who united the couple “in holy matrimony.” The couple had to provide the officiant with their license or, in earlier times the bond or consent before the preacher could “legally” perform the ceremony. Not that people didn’t “jump over the broom” or “stomp the glass” without state consent. It’s just that if they did, it’s less likely there will be an official record of the union. Sometimes the returns are a part of the license, sometimes they are loose papers.
Regardless of form, if a return was filled out, a marriage took place.
Once the town or county clerk received the return, he could then register the marriage. Marriage registers exist in various forms, depending upon the locale. Sometimes they are books, not unlike will or deed books. These books can hold a genealogical treasure trove of information such as:
Other times, registers are a separate part of the license or the bond which had to be filled out by the officiant and returned to the county clerk. Or, if the clerk performed the service, he filled out the register.
If the register was filled out, a marriage took place.
Marriage certificates were usually issued by whatever entity recorded the marriage to the newly married couple. At times quite ornate, certificates can be found in marriage registers or in personal effects, such as a family bible or trunk of important papers.
If a certificate was issued, a marriage took place.
To recap this series: banns, bonds, consents, licenses and applications imply a marriage took place while returns, registers and certificates prove a marriage took place.
Last week we addressed marriage bonds and consents, two types of records which imply intention, but do not confirm action.
This week we will briefly look at two other marriage indicators, applications and licenses.
Marriage licenses came into being in the middle of the Middle Ages in England. It was basically a contract between two families. Remember that early on, arranged marriages were the rule rather than the exception, thus goods or services were often a part of that contract. Political alliances, financial security or social acceptance were the goals.
The colonial Brits brought the practice with them to the Americas. The license was usually issued by a church and after the ceremony was performed it may or may not have also been registered with the local civil authorities.
Gradually, civil licenses began to replace bonds in the mid-1800s. The town or county clerk served as the issuer. I can only imagine the government saw this as a huge win. After all, the state only made money on a bond if the ceremony could not be performed. It could now collect a fee every time a couple wanted to get married. An added bonus: it was also another way for vital statistics to be gathered.
In addition to the names, licenses usually contained the couple’s ages and where they lived. As time passed, occupations, birthplaces and the names of the parents were added. A boon of genealogical information!
Regarding marriage license applications, they are a more modern animal, coming to rise in the 1900s. Much information, often more than that which is on the license, is contained in the application.
Next week we will begin to look at marriage records that actually confirm a wedding took place!
The information contained in a marriage record can be a plethora of genealogical material or a barren wasteland of no more than you already knew.
Or somewhere in between.
It depends upon what type of record you are looking at. Marriage record types, especially early marriage record types, varied greatly from religion to religion, state to state and even county to county.
People are often disappointed to find a woman’s parents’ names aren’t listed on that marriage record they searched so hard to find. It can be disappointing when the marriage certificate doesn’t have the information you seek. However, a marriage certificate isn’t the only type of marriage record available. A marriage license or minister’s return may have more information.
Types of historical civil marriage records, their availability, and information contained therein will be the topics of the next few posts. Today’s post will focus primarily on marriage bonds and marriage consents.
Used well into the 19th century, the marriage bond was the civil version, so to speak of the marriage bann. Banns were church announcements of two people’s intent to marry. They were usually read aloud and may have also been printed and posted. Banns were typically “cried” for the three weeks leading up to the ceremony. The purpose wasn’t to give everyone time to get to Macy’s to buy a good gift. It was to give anyone who knew of a legal reason the two betrothed could not marry time to come forward with it. Some legal reasons included:
In colonial America, banns were required and failure to announce them could result in a fine for the minister or the groom.
As time passed civil marriage requirements gradually replaced the banns; churches made banns optional or did away with them completely.
Enter the marriage bond.
It was a promise from the groom, usually to the governor, or early on to the state, that there were no legal impediments to prevent the impending marriage. The promise was backed by a surety, typically a close friend or family member of either the groom or bride. The amount of the bond was usually high, but would only be paid in the event there was a legal reason for the marriage NOT to take place.
A marriage bond is a record of intent, not proof that a marriage actually took place. Both the bann and the bond were the early versions of, “...speak now or forever hold your peace.”
Information contained in a marriage bond varies, but from the example below you learn:
Not all bonds name the father of the bride. But, if the bride was a minor, consent would need to be presented with the bond, and that is where you might find the father or guardian’s name. In some locales you will find the consent with the bond; in others, they are separate.
From the example below you learn:
Sometimes, you learn the mother’s name! I know this because “Lyle” [Lī-lē—short for Delilah] was my great-great grandmother:
Further confirming this is Thomas Dunsmore’s consent to the marriage. In it, he not only named the bride and groom, but the bride’s mother as well. In addition, the clerk who received the consent gave his title which included the locale: Monroe County.
Keep in mind that banns, bonds and consents only show intent. While they are not proof a marriage actually took place, they can provide additional clues about the life of your progenitor such as where they lived, and with whom they associated.
Next week we’ll take a look at applications and licenses which also indicate intent.
Born and raised in a small town in West Virginia before the turn of the century, Cynthia has always been fascinated by the intricacies that make up her own family history. As a result, she has been researching and studying it since the late 1900's.
-Association of Professional Genealogists
-African American Genealogical Group of Kentucky
-Kentucky Genealogical Society
-Kentucky Historical Society
-Greenbrier County (West Virginia) Historical Society
-Monroe County (West Virginia) Historical Society