Cluster Research – What You Are Missing

April 4th, 2018 by National Genealogical Society Blog Editor

Title: Cluster Research, or Discovering You’re Related to the Whole Block
Session: S459
Time and Date: Saturday, 5 May 2018, 4:00 p.m.

As Aristotle noted, “Man is by nature a social animal”—he has family, society, and throughout history he has moved with them. With this in mind, this session is designed to remind researchers to step back and look at the community—neighbors, co-workers, extended family of the individuals they are researching—and to really examine the records we find.

Early in our research we tend to look at documents quickly and not take in all the possible information or details. The witnesses on a marriage record might be friends or relatives. The informant on a death certificate may help you figure out the married name of an otherwise missing daughter. A pair of immigrant brothers who naturalize a year apart may be asked for wholly different information. One example shown in the session will follow an ancestor whose only origin indicated he came from Britain. But the record for his younger brother listed their city of origin, place of birth, previous residence, and date of arrival.

Examples used throughout the lecture include locales such as Michigan, Canada, Arkansas, and Mississippi and feature German-American, British, Canadian, and African-American lines. This helps reinforce the need to study all of the associates to get a better picture of our direct lines. Ignoring them may mean losing out on that bit of information that will break through a brick wall.

ABOUT: Jessica Trotter is a researcher, blogger, archivist and librarian. Her research areas include African American, British Isles, Canadian, American Midwest, German Palatines and Early American research. She tries very hard to keep her blog up-to-date…with varying degrees of success: She is honored to be presenting at NGS for the first time and would love to see you at her session.