Articles of “general” genealogical interest (not family specific)

I had an email complaint from a customer this morning. He is a distant cousin who shall remain anonymous. He said this:

“You ought to just rename your website ‘the Rankin-Willis’ blog. I have no interest in either of those families. Why don’t you write something of general interest that might appeal to all family history researchers? Also, please write more articles about the ________ family.”

Huh. Well. That’s actually good constructive criticism, except for the last sentence, which could be viewed as a bit hypocritical. I will keep his complaint in mind, though, and look for more topics that aren’t family-specific.

Meanwhile, since it is possible that he may have missed a few, here are some “non-family-specific” articles that have appeared on this blog.

  • The most frequently read article on this blog is about genealogical evidence and proof.
  • Here is one discussing a few legal principles every family history researcher needs to know. It is amazing how many questions you can answer with just a little knowledge of that kind of stuff.
  • The second most frequently read article on this blog is about the Scots-Irish, specifically the impetus for and timing of their migration. Researching that history gave me a small insight into what was called “the Troubles” in Northern Ireland.
  • We’re recently published two “general interest” articles, one containing  research links for Maryland researchers  and another about finding original county records online.
  • Also not long ago, we published a short primer on YDNA theory.  The article uses a Rankin example to make a point. Perhaps I should start disguising them with an obviously made-up name like “Clemson-Withers.”
  • Here is a short piece about privacy settings in FTDNA accounts. The article was occasioned by an unfortunate experience with a surname project DNA project administrator.
  • If you are a history buff and/or first amendment nerd, you might enjoy this transcription of Madison’s “Remonstrance.” It includes a list of all the signatories at the end of the petition. If you have Virginia ancestors in the last half of the eighteenth century, you might give it a look.
  • Here is a short and simple article about how to determine, for example, whether someone is your second or third cousin.
  • There is also a post about a recent but fairly dumb  genealogy scam.
  • Finally, here is a warning about’s “leaf” thingies.

We have also posted a couple of articles about “same name confusion,” a plague for family history researchers. One used as an example a Lindsey family and another used an Estes. There are also two posts about using land records to track a family, a valuable tool for family history researchers. I used Estes and Rankin families as examples. All four are so family-specific that I have not included them in the list.

I do hope this keeps my cousin busy for a while. You know who you are. <grin>

And now, back to an article about … you guessed it … two unrelated Rankin families in the same county and how to distinguish them using tax lists.

See you on down the road.









4 thoughts on “Articles of “general” genealogical interest (not family specific)”

  1. Robin: Interesting complaint from your [distant] cousin . . . . . I have found your pieces, even those involving families not related to mine, as ‘educational’. For instance, how do you approach a research problem. Where do you look for the evidence you need. The footnotes can be a font of information in themselves!

    For years (before the internet brought us digitized versions of records and genealogical publications) my genealogy Bible was the NEHGS journal. Never did I come across a family that was mine – but, oh, what a fabulous education!

    Keep up the good work!

    Jody McKenney Thomson

    1. Hi Jody, Nearly 20 years go you sent my wife Jeanette some terrific information about Cinderella Rucker ( Gray, Butt, Smith). You explained about the Eichenberry children in the census and other details. We would love to make contact with you again. I am a descendant of Cinderella’s daughter Mahala Jane Gray (Morris). Thank you, Jim Webb

  2. I, for one, have found many of your articles helpful, including your general interest ones and on other families, such as the Winns. I’m not a Rankin, and that’s just fine. Anonymity brings out the worst in people.

    1. You are absolutely right about anonymity, which is one of the worst features of the internet. It does seem to make us meaner, doesn’t it? In all fairness, however, I confess that I exaggerated my cousin’s criticism … poetic license, and all that.

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