Combat the Common Genealogy Challenges in 2017!

Come on in 2017, we are ready for you!

It does not matter who or where in the U. S. you are researching, you need to know the fundamentals about genealogy research, records & resources. Most importantly you need to be able to ask questions, manage your files, documenting your resources and share your findings

 First, you need to be organized, if not you’ll become frustrated and quit, or duplicate research you’ve already doneYou will become successful in collecting pieces of paper and we don’t want that. Everyone has piles, stacks, bags and boxes in their house full of papers, photos and what ever.  It’s a good idea to have a system in place the helps you record, document, store and retrieve information. Some use file folders, binders or boxes. Select one and be consistent. An easy way is to just alphabetize your file folders with the surnames of heads of the family, then as you move along in your research you will hopefully develop a good method that not just you, but others can follow. 

Here are some things to think about and it doesn’t matter if you are new to research or experienced, the basics always count. The basics are your foundation. 

● Who, What, When, Where, and Why-things I need to know about my ancestors
● Has someone in your family already completed some research, have you checked the HOUSE REPOSITORY? Get with others and share information as pictured below. We are all researching Jefferson County, Virginia/West Virginia seeking free and enslaved ancestors. (Photo taken at Clarmont, Charles Town, WV, July 2016)
● Do you have the time? Have you considered the costs?
● $$$$-Costs-yes there is costs to doing genealogy research-not all can be done online.


One of my Murphy Rules is also to first:

  • Write down what I  know
  • Set your goal on what I don’t know
  • Make a list of who or what might know-what I don’t know (could be an individual or a record/resource)

We have to do our due diligence to obtain information. There are no magical tricks that makes information or records appear. We have to dig and keep digging for them. I came up with another “Murphy Rule” to follow when doing your genealogy research-Follow:

• the Money

• the Land

• the Water, and

• the Faith of the people (which includes doing research on the community)

Task for you: take each one listed above and ask yourself “why” I would suggest you follow that information in a community.

As an experienced researchers and family historian we will face challenges when researching, everyone will, no matter what level. It is not just African or Native Americans or people of color that presents unique challenges. There are some common genealogy research challenges that you should be aware of and make sure you are not the one creating them. Listed below are some of the most common genealogy challenges I have faced. I am sure you probably could add a few more, but this is what I have faced so far.  

● Records destroyed
● Denial-don’t want to know, it’s the past
● Don’t want to share the information
● Received information that is not the truth or reliable-questionable Oral History
● Do you really have a brick wall/challenge?
● If doing slave research and they were sent/sold to the deep south
● You don’t know what you have-no analysis was done on the records (SO WHAT! basics, ask some questions, question the documents, see the gaps and conflicts)

 ● Records not recorded/written, not recorded into public record

The NOT’s are sometimes the challenges or brick walls we create such as: 

● Not understanding the Genealogy Proof Standard (GPS)
● Not aware of Friends, Associates and Neighbors (FAN) principle by Elizabeth Shown Mills. 
● Not using Cluster Research methods
● Not having a Goal or Timeline to build a Research Plan 
● Not using Google as your friend to access tips and leads finding others researching the same area or ancestors 
● Not tuning in to the FREE resources like social media (Facebook, Twitter) and weekly blogtalkradioshows and podcasts, etc. (Research at the National Archives and Beyond (–angela-walton-raji), Legacy Family Tree Webinars ( and, etc.)

If you are focusing on a specific state and county and you know the time period please “GET A MAP”. Do it for me, it is really critical to have a map or photos of the counties of the areas you are researching. It’s a good tool when dealing with some brick walls. There is nothing better than putting a map on the wall, sticking pins on locations and tracking the movement of your ancestors. You now have a visual and sometimes it will make you question what you are looking at and you will have to seek some more information and records to resolve the conflict. Everytime I walk by this chart, I try to write down another source to research.

research plan william michael murphy 2015

Also, you need to know what Records are available and what Law is on the books at the time. Having some knowledge of the law will help you. The Legal Genealogist ( does a good job emphasizing how critical the law is when doing genealogy research.

It is important to understand when researching African Americans that you understand how they were identified in the records. Some records will have codes, C or Colored, B for Black, I for Indian, etc. These identifiers will show themselves in public or private records, family bibles, legal documents and so forth. I have listed some of the most common identifiers I have seen in my research when researching African Americans. Can you add more for your ancestors? 



Free Mixtures

Yellow, high Yellow

Free Negroes





Free Negroes chargeable with tax


Free Blacks chargeable with tax

Free persons of color (FPC or FPOC)

Person(s) of Color



Very Black

To sum all this up get a few good books that are your “go to” for keeping you grounded and focused on good genealogy research techniques. There is no magic, there are no popping out of the box for genealogy research. It takes hard consistent work, setting a goal, planning your research, asking questions and using some of the things I noted to be successful. You also have to realize that there will be some ancestors you will not find anything on them, that you have to accept.

Attend the Institutes like the Midwest African American Genealogy Institute (MAAGI, pronounced Maggie) ( (MAAGI Coordinators are pictured above, Left to Right: Shelley Murphy, Janis Minor Forte, Bernice Bennett and Angela Walton-Raji) I believe Institutes are the wave of the future for genealogy researchers. You will learn the methods and strategies to get some movement on your genealogy research. It’s not just for African American researchers, it’s for all. Join us, hear, learn, share and tell the stories.

Some of my favorite things regardless if I am looking for people of color or not, I follow the basics and use the basic standards and stay focused.


  • Black Roots by Tony Burroughs
  • Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy by Val D. Greenwood
  • Finding a Place Called Home by Dee Parmer Woodtor

Joining a genealogy groups, societies, etc. (several groups)

Tune in to the “free webinars”, read the Blogs, you never know where your new tip might come from.

Read the society newsletters, books, quarterlies, visit websites, etc.

Social Media-a gold mine-Facebook and Twitter, get on it! Associate with those that are doing research. If there is not a county genealogy page on Facebook, start one! People interested in the same county will come…watch it grow.

Thank you for reading, I hope this helps you. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them. If you need more information on MAAGI, email me or simply just register to attend.



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Seeking Descendants of Nathanial Worden b. 1728

Genealogy friends connected to Worden’s. I am looking for any “male descendants” of any of the Worden males on this line. If you are or know who is please have them contact me at I have an AncestryDNA kit for them. Thanks

Parents: Nathaniel Worden 1728–1813 and Anna Palmeter 1726–1788.

Possible Children: 
Waite Worden 1746–
Wealthy Worden or Werden 1747–1800
Silas Worden or Werden 1749–1750
Sarah Worden or Werden 1749–1750
Eunice Worden 1749–1800
Nathaniel Worden, II 1752–1840
Lois (Lots) Worden 1753–1800
Moses Worden 1755–1813
Walter Worden Capt 1757–1814
Anne Worden 1758–1800
Silas Worden 1759–1760
Jesse Worden 1761–1843
Sarah Worden 1762–1800
Arnold Worden 1765–1840
Dudley Worden 1767–
Lucretia Worden 1769–1838
Warren Worden 1770–1848

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The Importance of Sharing the Slave History from your Family Trees.

Thank you Valerie for blogging on this topic. First it is important for European American genealogy researchers to not be afraid or feel the they can’t relate. The reason they might feel they don’t relate is because they don’t think they have African or any other ancestry but European. I say it really shouldn’t matter. It really is about learning the methods and strategies that are used to conduct genealogy research, any genealogy research. And when we do people of color research, I have the belief that “the research does not have a color/race or ethnicity, but the records have different locations where they live or are housed. There is a point when individuals researching their African American ancestry and get to the 1870 census, that is critical. If you do not know the significance of the 1870 federal population census for African American research, please email me at If they want to go back further than 1870 and they think their ancestors might have been enslaved, the researcher will have to look for the white people via the surname and research the whole community/county, not necessarily looking for people of color. We all have things to learn on a daily basis. There is no magic in genealogy research, it’s work, its digging and it’s asking questions. It’s sticking to the basics and having the evidence to back it up.

Here are 10 tips to keep in mind when doing genealogy research-they are the Murphy’s Law of Genealogy: 1) set a goal of what you want to find out about an ancestor. 2) begin a timeline on this ancestor with “what you know” about the ancestor, 3) locate the community they lived in, learn the community/county, 4) find out what resources are available at the local level, 5) check out what might be available online via or, etc. 6) continue building the timeline with birth, deaths, marriage, wills, and land ownership information and records such as federal and state census, anything that happen to and around this ancestor, every year 7) realize what you are missing or what information is conflicting or has a gap, question it using familytreegirl’s “So What” technique 8) find out who else might be researching this same family 9) join a genealogy group, use social media , read blogs, listen to podcasts and blogtalk radio shows, attend a hangout, and 10) remember to cite your resources.

Here are some of my favorites places to visit:
Research at the National Archives and Beyond-Bernice Bennett, blogtalk radio show
BlackProGen Live
Dear Myrtle Monday’s with Myrtle or her Wacky Wednesday’s-hangouts
Libraries like the Library of Virginia
Military research like
Google…is your friend-ask it a question
Midwest African American Genealogy Institute (MAAGI)
Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center, Ft. Wayne, IN


Genealogy With Valerie



About a month ago I joined a Black Ancestry Group on Facebook. You may think this is an odd thing to do considering I am not Black. I did it for a specific reason, to ask a question that had been plaguing me for a long time.  The following is the question that I finally asked about 5 days ago.

“I have had this question rolling around in my head for several years but didn’t know who I could ask about it. I have been afraid it may offend people but I have read some posts on here so I feel comfortable asking. Let me preference it with this: Unfortunately I have several slave owners in my family tree, some dating back into the late 1600’s. I have some wills that give names and locations. Would it help others if we were able to list those names and locations…

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Timid – Giving the Message

With all the turmoil going on it was good to hear a young man speak his opinion on the election. Timid from also put out a plea, “a public call to action for all politicians, elected officials, and community leaders to denounce the hateful assaults and attacks that have been happening in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s win and to let people know, in no uncertain terms, that this type of behavior will not be tolerated. If the people perpetrating this type of harassment and violence know there will be consequences, perhaps we can mitigate some of these incidents going forward”. The Random Hour radio show in Fairfax, Virginia, tune in:

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The Ancestry We’re Related APP

This is a great overview of the new application called We’re Related. I believe I will build the same type of spreadsheet as Russ Worthington shows on his blog. I question a couple of the connections as well. But most of them are right on point and well researched. It is fun and great entertainment, but also more research has to be done if it is a line you have not researched. Enjoy Russ’s tips.

A Worthington Weblog

Facebook is on fire about this new APP, We’re Related. Lots of Genealogist and Bloggers are “talking” about it on that social media platform.

Since I have seen another website, with similar features, I had to jump in and see what it was all about. I would put is in the category of “cousin bait” or a very “Bright Shiny Object” (BSO).

My GeneaBlogger friend, Randy Seaver, has a number of blog posts on this topic:

In watching his blog posts, I found a number of common people showing up on my list as well.

From my experience with the other BSO, I thought I would check into some of the folks…

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Are you writing your Novel? It’s National Novel Write Month-2017

Oh yes, I am doing it and I have some tips to share to help you if you choose to join me. I finally settled it. I have blogged on Calvin Clark Davis (WW2 soldier) long enough and feel I needed to tell the whole story. My family and readers are missing out on other events of his life. The things I wrote in my blogs or shared for others articles, etc.,  are just the tip of the iceberg. You can join me and my other genie writing buddies. The competition is for one month, November 1 through the 3oth. ( Right now I am on a 10 minute break that I scheduled for Sunday morning. Then it will be back to writing for another 25 to 30 minutes, then another 10 minute break. Then I will take a couple of hours off. In my area the 2017 Heart Walk is today at 2p (Charlottesville area). And yes I am participating. Wow, I am really being focused on what I am doing today. I am so proud of myself! That’s a good thing right? LOL. I will do the one mile walk along side of hundreds. I can and will do this, despite not liking to wear gym shoes (walking  style gym shoes-I would rather  be barefoot).

The twitter name is NaNoWriMo and the goal for is to write 50,000 words during that time which comes out to 1667 words per day. I put it out on Facebook and Twitter that I am doing this and I will. But as you know, we all need a lot of support. I have partnered with Write your Life and have Anita Henderson as a motivational writing coach. You can read more about Ms. Anita at she is just fabulous. She is also one of the instructors at the Midwest African American Genealogy Institute, we call MAAGI (pronounced maggie) in the Writing Track. (

Have you ever thought about writing a novel? I have plenty of thoughts. As the family historian there are so many stories to tell. Each of our ancestors have some interesting stories to tell and stories that should be shared. I have this belief that an individual should be able to pick up a book and begin walking in the shoes of the author telling the experiences and impacts of a story. Did you ever see the movie called the “Color Purple”? Remember the scene where Ms. Celie (played by Whoopie) was reading a letter from her sister Nettie, who was living in Africa? Oh my! While she was reading the book the imagines of what she was reading appeared. Wow, that is what it means to read a book, at least what I look for when reading. You are feeling and experiencing what the author is telling you. (so please parents make sure your young children knows how to pick up a book. Take them to the library. They should  be unplugged on a daily basis from a computer or any electronics). I hope society never leaves the book reading activity.

I always thought writing was hard and stressful to do. But it’s really not. one thing I do is have music that is inspirational for me to write by. So I have have Damien Escobar music playing low while I am writing. Also, I came up with 10 tips for writing. I sure hope these help you as they do me.

  1. Just begin writing about your  topic-WW2 soldier, your grandmother, where you grew up or something you dislike very much and have a personal view to share.
  2. There is no beginning or end, just begin writing, it will be organized later.
  3. Don’t worry about the grammar, you can hire someone to fix all that.
  4. Try to follow the Pomodoro Technique, it will keep you focused and managing your time.
  5. Need support? Ask for it. Tell someone what you need and how you want it.
  6. If you can, hire a writing coach, I say why not?
  7. Do not let others influence you on your topic, it’s yours, own it, write it. What inspires you? (Damien Escobar playing his violin).
  8. Set your goal for how many words you would like to write about each day or every other day.
  9. Reward yourself for you little milestones, don’t wait just for the big ones.
  10. Begin writing!  Just do it!

Good luck and let us hear how you are doing. Okay, it is my time to write some more before I leave for my walk.

On se parle plus tard!


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DNA Detectives Volunteers Help Adoptees Find their Birth Parents

This is so important, thank you Dick Eastman for writing this. I have experienced this. I was contacted by an individual saying she was helping her adopted daughter find her biological parents and I was the daughter’s highest match. Wow! I have dabbled in the DNA realm, but I am not an expert. I have knowledge to a certain level, then I need help. I am calling one of my genie friends such as Bernice Bennett, Shannon Christmas or Shannon Combs Bennett, Angela Baggins Trammel and Judy G. Russell. Well as the story goes-my mother and I determined which side of the family this young lady was on based on the limited information from the adoption agency and where she was born, etc., -we pinpointed a couple of cousins that fit the MO of being her father. It is not totally solved yet, but we are on the right track. I contacted a 82 yr. old cousin and the adopted daughter was her highest match. Woohoo!

Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter

DNA Detectives is a Facebook group run by volunteers who call themselves “search angels” and who help adoptees, sperm donor kids, and others who are hunting for their biological relatives. With more than 24,000 members, DNA Detectives began in February 2015, said CeCe Moore, its founder, which she helps run from San Clemente, Calif. Moore calls herself a genetic genealogist. She consults on the PBS show “Finding Your Roots,” and her company The DNA Detectives works with with the media on stories related to DNA, promoting genetic genealogy education through conferences and seminars.


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