Monday, January 14, 2013


How to Use Name Lists
Who knew they could be so useful?
 Yes, that's right, I said "name lists."  What are name lists you might ask?  Here's what I learned yesterday while attending a seminar in San Diego.  It was put on by the San Diego Genealogical Society .  I've been a member of this organization for several years now.  They put on a couple of seminars a year and frequently get nationally recognized speakers. If you're ever in the San Diego area, check out their website during the time of your visit and see what event you might be able to attend.
Our speaker this month was David E. Rencher, AG, CG, FUGA, FIGRS.  He is the CFO for  He was very informative and covered more than just using name lists, but that's what I will cover here today.  So, what is a name list anyway?  Here are some examples:
  • Tax rolls
  • Land records
  • Court records
  • Road records
  • Voters' records
  • Militia records
  • Sample of a tax list from 1862 New Hampshire
    Church records
  • School lists
  • Legislative records
  • Ships' records
Church record Grace Lutheran Church from early 1900's Pennsylvania

If you can think of any others, please let me know in your comments.
What can we learn just by looking at a list of names?
  1. Where someone lived at a given time?
  2. What organization they supported or belonged to? 
  3. Who was on the list with the same surname?
  4. Who were their neighbors?
  5. If they are being taxed, what for and how much?
  6. Can we determine the age range of persons on the list? 
Now, can you find another list of the same type for a time period before or after the one you are looking at?  Let's say you are looking at a list of names of those taxed in the year 1805 in Virginia.  Is that same list available for 1804 or 1806 or other years before or after?  If so, you can compare the lists and perhaps find your ancestor.   This might allow you to track their comings and goings, the amount of land they owned or how many horses and other livestock they owned or if they owned a business. 
  • Does the person suddenly disappear off the list? 
  • Perhaps his widow is listed as the "Widow Evans."
  • You might also find someone else listed as the guardian for children and/or for the widow.
There are many questions to be asked for each type of name list we look at.  The more questions we ask the more answers we will find.  Or, will the unanswered question lead us to look elsewhere?
I can truly say that after attending this seminar, I will never look at name lists the same way.  I have already gone back and looked at some lists and I see them in a whole new light.  This is especially true for those years prior to 1850 when the census records did not offer as much information. 
TIP: Attending seminars or meetings is a great way to learn more, meet new people and become better researchers
What seminars can you find in your area?  Or, perhaps there is a seminar going on during a time you are visiting another area.  Check with the local societies (most have online websites) and see what event you might be able to attend.

Share what you might have learned or what seminars you find.  Maybe we will attend the same one and I can meet you.

Now to review more lists,
Michigan Girl

Copyright ©  2013   Diane Gould Hall

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I look forward to reading your comments. If you have any connection to the people mentioned in this blog, please let me know. I write about mine and my husband's ancestors and would welcome new information or meeting a new cousin or two. Thanks for visiting and come back soon.