Q: I would like to know if there is such a thing as a genealogy detective? I need to find the death records and other biographical info on my grandfather. This issue came up regarding an estate. -- Thomas
A: Genealogists are detectives in many ways. Whether a genealogist is a novice or a professional, he or she seeks the answers to questions. The biggest difference between a novice and a professional is that the professional often knows an easier path to a question's answer.
Sometimes when you need an answer quickly, it is necessary to hire a professional. Your question sounds like such a case.
There are two professional bodies to whom I refer researchers in need of a professional: The Association of Professional Genealogists and the Board for Certification of Genealogists . Each organization offers a roster of their members, including areas of expertise, and mediation should there be a problem between the client and the professional researcher. You will definitely want to read the "Hiring a Professional Researcher" found at the Association of Professional Genealogists' Web site.
Q: I use Family Tree Maker for recording genealogy information. My question is about birth and death locations. How specific do we need to get for this information? My father died at his home in Tualatin, OR. However, my mother died in the hospital in Beaverton, OR (a suburb of Portland) but was residing in King City, OR at the time of her death in the hospital. In my line of work, consistency is the key, but I'd like to conform to the "norm" in what I am doing? -- Mary
A: Places are so important to genealogical research and yet few stop to think about the appropriate way to record a place name. There are actually two different aspects of the place name that need to be considered.
The first aspect of the place name is to establish where the event took place. That is the key. Your mother is a perfect example of this. While she was residing in King City, Oregon prior to her move to the hospital, the death event itself actually took place in Beaverton. If you write away for her death record you will find that the place of death is listed as Beaverton. Your father's place of death should be listed as Tualatin, Oregon.
Some genealogy programs go so far as to offer you a field to enter the actual physical location at the time of birth or death. This could be a hospital, the address of the home, and so forth.
The other important aspect when recording a place name is to make sure you have the place name correct for the time of the event. As you go back further in your research, you will discover that some county boundaries changed. Names of towns may also change as well. You will want to make a note to yourself if a town's name changed, but you should record the name of the town as it existed at the time of the event in question.
Q: Do you know where records of passenger lists are held for the railroads? -- JDOUGROW
A: Passenger lists from ships differ from those of railroads. In most instances, passengers traveling on ship were going from one country to another. The lists that were generated were to track those leaving or entering a country.
While passengers on a railroad purchased tickets just like passengers on ships, the individuals were generally traveling from one town to another. They were already in the country and were not leaving.
You will find that railroad records in general are scattered. Most of the records that do exist have nothing to do with the passengers that road the trains, but those who worked for the railroad companies.
Rhonda R. McClure is a professional genealogist specializing in celebrity trees and computerized genealogy. She has been involved in online genealogy for fifteen years. She is an award-winning author of several genealogy how-to books, including The Complete Idiot's Guide to Online Genealogy, The Genealogist's Computer Companion, and Finding Your Famous and Infamous Ancestors. She may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
See more advice from Rhonda in her columns Expert Tips, Tigs and Trees, and Overheard in the Message Boards.