Today, I spent time looking for my Italian in-laws. To be specific the home I was looking for was in Harrison, Westchester Co., NY this line belongs to my MIL, it was her mom and grandparents I was looking for. I was not 100% if the family had moved or not, as it is not a primary line I research. It is one of the lines I go to when I seem to be stuck at a dead-end and I am not sure where to proceed on my own lines.
So, I decided today was the day I would do a little Italian research. I am going to see my MIL tomorrow and I wanted to be able to tell her what I have found on her family this week (I had already found her dad and his mom in the 1940 Census this week).
I found the family, they were in the second of the two ED’s that Steve Morse’s website suggested I try. The searching did not take too long and I was happy to have another find this week. I stepped away from my research for many hours today to start my cooking for Easter dinner, we are bringing lasagna rolls.
Coming back to the computer, I started looking at all the tabs I have open and wondered why I was keeping them open (this is a major issue with me). One tab was ancestry and the 1930 census, another was the 1940 census. Both were the Italian family. I am not one that normally looks at the differences of each census, but I was curious to see if the family was in the same house. I can not say that I am 100% positive it was the same house, but it was the same street.
From there, I looked at the value of the home. Most of my family rented their homes, so it was nice to look at a family that actually owned their home and see what the house was worth in these different times. In 1930 the home was valued at $10,000, today that amount would range from $111,000 to $1,660,000 according to Measuring Worth.
In 1940, the value of the home was $3,300. Using the website above, it states that today that would range from $48,200 to $551,000. I wonder how accurate this site it, because that is a huge gap in numbers.
Personally, I was glad to see that all adult members of the house were working at the time of the census and that the youngest was still in school. Though, each of the adults had 16 weeks of being unemployed.
Usually, I just look at the make up of each family and who is in the house. The things I want to know are:
- are there more children?
- did a in-law move in?
- what type of job did they have?
These are my basic need to knows when I look at a new census record. It is obvious that there is so much more to be analyzing with each census that is released. I am curious to see what this specific families home will be valued at in the 1950 US Federal Census.
These past few days, I have been asked what I am doing differently in my research that is different and bringing me results. Well, let me start with the lecture I attended at Dupage Genealogical Society, I learned a great deal about analyzing my evidence in a new way (new to me). You can read about this lecture here. If you have not heard Jennifer Holik speak I recommend that you do. She really opened my eyes on how I can be a better researcher. In the past, as I found records that pertained to my family I would add the information to my tree whether on line on ancestry or in my Reunion database. Sometimes if it was a family I was really working on, I might fill out a Family Group Sheet so that I can look everything over. This has worked for me to see the big picture, but it never really opened my eyes to the BIG picture of what I was missing and where I should be looking to find it. A few weeks ago, I started creating some worksheets on my computer so that I could type the information in and not have so many papers in a hard file. That helped some as well, but again no huge eye opening moments. Then I attended the above mentioned lecture and changed how I am looking at my information. I never thought to pull my families into spreadsheets to see what I am missing and try to figure out where I should be looking. For example, I am researching the Jonas family from Morton Grove, IL and I have many questions on the family:
- Who is the unknown child that I cannot find reference to?
- Are John and Ida (Vick) Jonas related to this family?
- Is John the missing child?
- Is this Jonas Family related to the Jonas family in Park Ridge, IL (the two towns are close)
So, I put together a spreadsheet with address information from the US Census records, please click jonas family in the census records to view spreadsheet. All of the green shaded areas are missing information. All of the grey shaded areas tell me not to look there, they were not alive at this time. I also made any notations at the bottom of the sheet.
Now obviously this only tells me what I am missing, not want I want to know. That is the next step. Jen talked about using One Note (for PC users) to keep your notes on this family and that this is what she uses to start formatting the books she is writing. Well, I am not a PC user and was upset as we went through this because it just made sense.
Luckily, sitting in front of me was Patricia Biallas of GeneaJourneys and her husband. While Jen was talking, Mr. Biallas was looking online to see if there was a substitute for the Mac and there was. The Mac alternate is Growly Notes and it is a free download, double score for the night.
Well, once I downloaded Growly notes and played with it some, I started a file for the Jonas family adding information I had from the records I have already collected. Once the information was listed, I would add the questions I had and where I needed to look for the answers. Turns out I had some of the answers, I just was not truly looking at all the information I had.
You see, this second Jonas family has thrown me for a loop. They are buried right by my family, lived close in proximity and supposedly came from the same town in Germany. I originally thought they might be brothers and then I as I looked at the dates, I thought maybe my Jonas could be a son of the Park Ridge Jonas. Anything is possible, right?
Well as I went through each hypothesis I had I was able to dismiss them based on the records I had or was able to find once I knew what I was looking for and what I should be looking for. Click on Wilhelm Jonas to see some of my information.
Here are some of my Notes that helped me work through my questions on this family and here are my notes about the two Jonas men, Are John and William related? Please click on each of these links to read my thought processes and see how I worked through all of the information. I was not in favor of putting my information into a third database, but it is obvious that it is helping me answer my questions about these families.
So it is definitely worth the time and effort it takes to use these methods to analyze and make you reread all the records you have.
What are your thoughts? Have you been utilizing spreadsheets to look at your information? What works for you?