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Tip 6: Birth Records - If you are having difficulty finding the birth certificate of an ancestor, then try ordering the birth certificate of one of your ancestor's brothers or sisters. Reading the information on the sibling's birth certificate (such as the spelling of the parent's name) can often provide enough information to lead to the birth certificate of the ancestor you seek.

If you are fortunate to have several siblings to chose from, pick the sibling that was born closest to the ancestor you are trying to trace. The information on this sibling's birth certificate will provide the closest match to your ancestor in terms of spelling of names, occupations, addresses, etc.



Tip 8: Computers - At GenealogyInTime Magazine, the number one thing people write to us about is font size. People often complain to us because they struggle to read the small fonts on many websites. Well, we have a simple solution for you.

To increase the size of any web page simply hold down the Ctrl key and press the + (plus) key. Pressing the + key several times while holding down the Ctrl key will make the web page even larger.

You can also do the reverse. Hold down the Ctrl key and press the - (minus) key to make the web page smaller. This works great if you are using a smart phone or other device that has a small screen.

This simple solution works on all browsers and on all operating systems.


Tip 9: Search - Many people come across ancestors with accent marks in their family names. These accent marks are formally known as diacritic accents and they are common in many European languages. This genealogy tip looks at how to handle diacritic accent marks when performing online genealogy searches.

Diacritic accent marks are most commonly used to change the pronunciation of the vowels a, e, i, o, u and y. Diacritic accents are common in French, German, Scandinavian and many Eastern European family names. They also sometimes appear in Irish, Welsh and Scottish Gaelic. In fact, English is one of the few major languages that does not use diacritic accents, which is why accent marks often confound native English speakers.

How diacritic accent marks work can be illustrated with a simple example. The family name Noël has a diacritic accent mark over the ‘e’. This is used to highlight the fact the ‘e’ is to be pronounced - as in the Christmas form of ‘Noel’. Many native English speakers would naturally pronounce the ‘e’, if they knew that Noel referred to Christmas. However, most would not pronounce the ‘e’ in Noel if it were used as a first name, such as Noel Coward, the famous English playwright.

Whether to pronounce the ‘e’ in Noel requires a certain amount of guessing on the part of English speakers because the pronunciation depends on the context. Other languages usually take the guessing out of pronunciation in these kinds of situations by explicitly using diacritic accents to tell you when to pronounce certain vowels. In most languages (using our example), Noël means you pronounce the ‘e’, but Noel means you don’t pronounce the ‘e’.

What does this mean for genealogy searches? When looking at family names, the most important thing to note about diacritic accents is that it changes the pronunciation of a name. It does not change the spelling of the name. The other important thing to note is that search engines work on spelling, not pronunciation (see Ten Innovations in Online Genealogy Searches). Therefore, when using our free Genealogy Search Engine or any other online search engine, it is usually best to search for a family name without using any diacritic accent marks. For example, it is best to search for <Noel> and not <Noël>.

There is another reason to resist the temptation of using diacritic accent marks in your genealogy searches. Most genealogists are familiar with the amount of name misspelling that occurs in ancestral records. If government officials had difficulty spelling family names 150 years ago, imagine the difficulty they would have had with diacritic accent marks.

Except for French Canadian names in Canada, the probability is high that most English-speaking government officials would have simply left them out of their record books. So even if you know that a family name contained a diacritic accent mark, there is a strong possibility that it would not be included in a genealogy record from an English-speaking country. Therefore, to reiterate the point, unless you are specifically searching for a known record that contains a diacritic mark, you should consider ignoring accent marks when conducting most online genealogy searches. [Genealogy Search Engine]

"It requires a very unusual mind to make an analysis of the obvious." - Alfred North Whitehead

Tip 10: Common Genealogy Mistakes - At GenealogyInTime Magazine, we notice people often make the same mistakes over and over again when building their family tree. Sometimes these mistakes are subtle and sometimes they are not. The obvious mistakes are the ones that really bother us. With that in mind, we decided to take a rather unique approach to solving this problem.

We wrote an article called Common Genealogy Mistakes or How to Build a Family Tree Without Really Trying. Every piece of advice in this article is either outright wrong or highly misleading. That’s right, wrong. We do this so we can present these common genealogy mistakes in a fun and light-hearted manner. Enjoy.

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