Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Polya's Four Step Process: Part 2

Polya's Four Step Process: Part 2
  • Last week's column outlined a four-step process to genealogy problem-solving. My example of applying this process to an actual problem focused on locating a marriage record for a couple whose first daughter was born in 1851. This week we continue our search for the marriage record of that couple and see that it did not happen near where their first daughter was born.
  • Our problem-solving process, discussed in more detail last week, was developed by mathematician George Polya and had four steps:
  • Understand the Problem
  • Devise a Plan
  • Do the Plan
  • Evaluate the Results
  • Last week, we left at the evaluation stage. I had not found a marriage record for Peter and Barbara, whose first daughter was born in Illinois in 1851. In that article I concluded that my "understanding of the problem" needed some work.
  • This article originally appeared on 1 April 2009.

Polya's Four Step Process-Part I

Polya's Four Step Process-Part I
  • George Polya was a mathematician at Stanford University, where he developed a four-step process for solving mathematical problems. I'm doubtful that he was a genealogist. However, the process he outlined to assist math students in solving problems can easily be applied to genealogical situations as well. This week we discuss the process and see how it can be applied to a specific problem. In this case, it is a problem to which I fortunately have an answer already!
    Polya's process has four steps:
  • This article originally appeared on 26 March 2009.

Undeeding the Farm

Undeeding the Farm
  • The message to the mailing list indicated an ancestor had owned considerable property and that there was a large estate or guardianship filed after the ancestor died. The poster wanted a “local” to do a lookup in the county records and find the files. I was going to the courthouse within in the week, and the lookup would take no more than a few minutes. Armed with an approximate date of death for the ancestor, I looked for the records. I used a year range from ten years before the estimated date of death until twenty years after the death date. There was no estate record for the property-owning ancestor. There was no guardianship case filed under the names of any of his children. All reasonable spelling variants were searched. I reported this back to the original message poster. They insisted there “”had” to be a record and that the ancestor “had” to have owned property and that I "had" to be wrong. And it was possible that I was.
  • But I remembered a few rules from genealogy and from life. Death and taxes are one of the few things that apply to most people. An ancestor has to reproduce to have any descendants. Most other things are optional. A little more work on the poster's ancestor was necessary.
  • Originally appeared 19 March 2009

Framing Potential Parents

Framing Potential Parents
  • Census records can give us specific details about a family--all we have to do is read the entry. However, sometimes the researcher needs to go beyond what an actual entry says in order to get suggestions for searching other records. This week we look at several census records from England and see what information it tells us about this 19th century family and how we can go beyond what the census actually says. Of course, "going beyond" does not mean that we read information that is not there into a record. Originally appeared 9 April 2009.
  • This article discusses a UK family's census entries from 1841-1871

Multiple Obituaries

Multiple Obituaries
  • Two are better than one.
    Genealogists are usually advised to obtain as many records as possible. While sometimes this is not always practical, it is generally good practice to get information from a variety of sources. Multiple records of the same event may provide different or conflicting information. This week we look at my Irish forebear whose obituaries unfortunately provide few details as to his origins. Originally published 15 April 2009.