Ask a Genealogist- Now with Answers!


Photo: Jim Shaughnessy

Part 2 of the genealogist, Elizabeth Shown Mills’, Q&A with the public is now up at the NY Times.  Some of the questions answered are:

How to Identify Ancestral photos.

Do you recommend using genealogy-software templates for citing sources, or is it best to write them freeform?

Is there an accepted “standard” way of numbering ancestors when doing research?

How do I research Railroad Employees?

How to begin Indian (South Asian) research.

The best thing that I got from her answers was that has facial recognition software for your old unidentified photos!

Ask a Genealogist

Elizabeth Shown Mills 14MAY2011

Expert Elizabeth Shown Mills

In the “Ask and Expert” column of the New York Times on Wednesday they are taking questions for professional genealogist, writer and former president of the American Society of Genealogists.  Here are some examples from the article of possible question you could ask:

1. What if I don’t want to use a paid site like Where should I start?

2. There are all these online sources, but I can still physically go to a library or courthouse, can’t I?

3. What can DNA tests tell me about my family history?

4. My ancestors were enslaved. One supposedly was her master’s child. Is it possible to find out the truth?

Submit your questions in the comments section of the article here.

Answers to the questions will be printed in the Booming section of the NY Times next Wednesday, Nov. 6.

There are some good questions already posted and I can’t wait read the answers.

Death Certificates


Typhoid Mary’s (Mary Mallon) Death Certificate. I was right in guessing that she died of typhoid. But it also lists her parents, place of birth (Ireland, no county though), birth date and how long she suffered from typhoid (24 years).

In today’s New york Times there is an interesting article about death certificates

a document that has myriad benefits for the living: establishing a legal basis for life insurance and estate settlements; providing critical information to survivors and descendants in an era of burgeoning advances in genetics; advancing knowledge about diseases, accidents and other causes of death; and much else.

And it is a great resource for genealogists to uncover a dead ancestor’s vital record’s and parents.  But the article is mainly focused on a study on the accuracy of the death certificate, especially whether or not the cause of death is being accurately reported.  The study found that many times the cause of death is not precise.  Doctor’s too often are forced by time pressures and the system to just put something down even if it is not wholly factual.

The article also displayed some great digital images of some famous person’s death certificates including Lou Gehrig, Typhoid Mary,  Boss Tweed and the first person to be killed by an automobile.