What Locking Myself In Taught Me About Genealogy

This morning I did one of those things that are frustrating at the time, but funny in hindsight. I went in to straighten up my daughter's room and shut the door to keep our dogs out, completely forgetting the door has a malfunctioning doorknob. From the outside of the room, the knob works correctly. From the inside of the room, the knob turns but doesn't release the latch. Needless to say, since I was inside the room when I shut the door, I was stuck.

To make things even worse, my husband is out of town working right now. So it wasn't like I could call him to come home and let me out. Of course, I called him anyway, not because I wanted him to spend the day driving back to rescue me, but because I thought he might have an idea. Climbing out the window wasn't really an option because it's a pretty good drop to the ground and I'd then have to deal with being locked out of the house.

His solution: pop the lock with a screwdriver or butter knife. On the surface, this sounds simple, but there was a problem. Did you see it? I was locked in our five year old daughter's bedroom. I don't know about you, but I personally don't store items like that in my child's room. A screwdriver in my bedroom, sure, but not in hers.

While he was pouting about my veto of his idea thinking up another idea, I was searching the bedroom in the hopes of finding something I could use. In the top of the closet, I found her microscope case so I decided to check it to see if it had anything I could use. I found a small plastic spatula.


It was thin enough to do the job, but I was concerned about it breaking in the process because it was pretty flimsy. Since I was stuck in a room with no food or drink and a rapidly dwindling cell phone battery, I gave it a shot. About the time my husband came up with an alternate idea (having a neighbor pass me a screwdriver through the window), the lock popped open and I was free.


So what does all this have to do with genealogy?


As family historians, sometimes the tool we need to get information just isn't there. Registration of vital records may not have been implemented yet. The record may have been lost to fire, natural disaster or time. The records may be hidden away in a closet just waiting for someone to find them.


Just because the record you need isn't available doesn't mean all is lost. You have to look to alternate sources. Just like the flimsy plastic spatula worked in place of a screwdriver, you may be able to use another record source to get the information you seek. It may not be as strong in terms of evidence, but it can work in a pinch.

I've listed some suggested alternate sources below.



Births
Birth announcement
Obituary

Family Bible
Draft record
Pension record
Headstone
Baptism/christening record
Marriage record
Death record
Social Security Death Index



Marriages
Marriage announcement
Obituary

Family Bible
Headstone
Pension record



Deaths
Obituary
Spouse's obituary
Family Bible
Headstone
Cemetery/funeral home record
Pension record
Military record
Will/probate record
Social Security Death Index 


Parents' Names
Records for younger siblings
Marriage record
Death record
Obituary
Social security card application
Headstone


Maiden Names
Vital records for children
Marriage announcement
Death record
Obituary
Social security card application
Headstone

Are you stuck because you're only looking for the record that traditionally has the information? What other alternate sources have you used for your genealogy research?

1 comments:

  • Cinamon Collins says:
    January 26, 2012 at 5:52 PM

    Ha ha! I'm glad you got out. The same thing happened a year ago to me with my 4 year old's room. I took apart one of his trucks and used the axel to pop the lock.

    You're right, sometimes you have to look to alternative sources to help you out.

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