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Examples of unacceptable vs. acceptable
requests for look-ups


written for the Kaufman Co., TXGenWeb Project site
by Abby Balderama


Please remember to ask for a look-up for a specific person (not an entire family) and in only one source at a time.  Do not ask the volunteers to do your research for you.  Be sure to send your request only to the person who is listed as the look-up volunteer (and not to the coordinator) and do not send the same request to more than one volunteer.


What is meant by a look-up should only be for a specific person?
This means you must include a first and last name such as for Mary Jones (not for "all of the Jones" family).

What is meant by one source?
One source means one book and does NOT mean all of the marriage records or all of the census records, or all of the cemeteries, etc.  For example, you should ask for a look-up in the 1880 census (and not all of the census records) or the Prairieville Cemetery (not all of the cemeteries) or the Marriage records from 1870-1880 (not all of the marriage records).

What is meant by "do not ask the volunteer to do your research for you"?
Asking the volunteer to "find" your relatives or to "send all of the information on" your relatives is asking them to do your research for you.  It is your responsibility to decide which source should be consulted for a look-up.  Telling the look-up volunteer all you have on your family and then asking them to find something on them is NOT acceptable and if the look-up volunteers receive such a request, they may ignore it.  Asking someone to do a look-up in a source they haven't volunteered for is also unacceptable.  You should review all the information you have gathered and then look at the list of the sources offered for look-ups.  If it appears likely one of the sources will yield information for you, then you should ask the person who has volunteered for that source for a look-up for the particular person who is likely to be found.



Unacceptable example #1:
Subject: Looking for ancestors
I don't know where my Jones ancestors were buried but I think it was in Kaufman County.  Please tell me which cemetery they are buried in.

Why is this an unacceptable example?
Incorrect subject line.  "Looking for ancestors" does not indicate what you are looking for.
No source (ie. the name of the cemetery, the year for the marriage records or census record, etc.) specified for the look-up to be done in.  The volunteers cannot determine where the answers to your questions will be found but they can look for a specific piece of information in a specific source.
No name(s) of who you are looking for; the surname alone is not sufficient — you must include first names as well.  Look-ups requesting all of the information on all of the people with a particular surname will not be answered.  First determine what the person's first name was and then request the look-up.  Some places to find this information may be from a death certificate, obituary or census record in which the person is listed.  Start with what you know and work backwards into the past.  Knowing that your family once lived in Kaufman County and what their surname was is not enough information.  Try to find specific documents, starting with yourself, if necessary, which give names and dates and then move on to your parents, grandparents, etc.

Acceptable example #1:
Subject:  Kaufman County Look-up
Kaufman City Cemetery
I would like to know if John Doe is buried in the Antioch Cemetery.




Unacceptable example #2:
Subject: Kaufman County Look-up
Please look up the information on my ancestors, John and Mary Smith.  They moved to Kaufman County from Tennessee.  I would like to know who their parents were.

Why is this an unacceptable example?
No source is given for the look-up to be done in.
While asking for a specific piece of information (who their parents were), this question may require hours of research to find the answer.  The look-up volunteers are NOT volunteering to do your research for you; they ARE volunteering to look in a specific source for one or two names at a time.  It is your responsibility to figure out which source or sources may be most helpful to you in your search.  Asking for a look-up request is similar to looking in a specific book you find in a library; the volunteers are the ones looking into the specific book, typing up the information and e-mailing it to you.

Acceptable example #2:
Subject:  Kaufman County Look-up
1860 census
Please look to see if there is any information in the 1860 Kaufman County census for John and Mary Smith.  I believe they moved to Kaufman County in 1858 and I think they were living there in 1860.




Unacceptable example #3
Subject:  Kaufman County Look-up
Kaufman County, TX Marriages, 1881-1890
I would like to know if John Doe and Mary Smith are in this book because I want to know the names of their children.

Why is this an unacceptable example?
This would have been acceptable if it only asked if John Doe and Mary Smith are in the book.  The names of their children are not going to be given in the marriage records.  You will also NOT find their birthdates or the place they were born, their parents' names, where they were buried or when or where they died.  Stick to asking for marriage-related information when asking for a look-up in the marriage records (and cemetery-related information when asking for a look-up in the cemetery records, census-related information in a census index, etc.)

Acceptable example #3
Subject:  Kaufman County Look-up
Kaufman County, TX Marriages, 1881-1890
I would like to know if John Doe and Mary Smith are listed in this book.  I think they were married in Kaufman County around 1888.




Unacceptable example #4
Subject:  Kaufman County Census Look-up
Please look up the information on my family who lived in Kaufman County.  I am particularly looking for information on Jane and James Smith who may have come to Kaufman County in 1877.

Why is this an unacceptable example?
This is a request for research and not a look-up.  No particular source is mentioned and finding them in all of the census records after 1877 involves research and does not qualify as a simple look-up.

Acceptable example #4
Subject:  1880 Kaufman County Census Look-up
Please look-up James Smith in the Kaufman County census.  I believe he was living there in 1880.





Here is an example of how you might go about using the information that you have on your ancestors to obtain more information by asking for a look-up.

Here's what you may know:
You have reason to believe that your ancestors, John and Mary Smith, lived in Kaufman County until they died in the 1920s.  You don't know Mary's maiden name, but you think they were married in Kaufman County around 1878.  You know that they had a son named James and his death certificate indicates he was born in Kaufman County, TX in 1879.

Here's what you may ask for and what you may find out:
If they lived in Kaufman County from about 1878 until the 1920s, they should be listed in the census for 1920, 1910, 1900 and 1880 (the census for 1890 was almost completely destroyed).  You might want to request a look-up in the 1880 census.  If they are found, you will possibly discover some new information on them as well as know where to locate them in the actual census.  (Usually only some of the information available on the actual census is available in the published version of the census records, so you may want to consult the actual census for more information).  The 1880 census contains information on the names, age and sex of all the people in the household, where the person and his or her parents were born (this is usually the State if it was in the U. S. or the country if they were foreign-born), their occupations, their relationship to the head-of-household, whether they were single, married, divorced or widowed, whether they could read and write and whether they suffered from a disability or disease.  The other censuses (1900-1920) may give you even more information than what's found in the 1880 census so don't neglect to look for your ancestors in them even if you (ugh) have to go to a library yourself.  However, now many of the images are available on-line through HeritageQuest and Ancestry.com so you most likely will not have to go to the library.  If you can't find the parents in a census, check for all of the children as usually when the parents became old enough that they couldn't live by themselves, they moved in with one of their children.

If you believe they were married in Kaufman County around 1878 (the year before their son was born) you might want to ask for a look-up in the Kaufman County, TX Marriages, 1870-1880.  If they are found, you will find out what Mary's maiden name was as well as the actual date they married.

The new information you may have obtained after requesting the look-ups can then be used to look for even more clues on the family.  Now you may know not only Mary's maiden name (from the marriage record) but the approximate year she was born (from the census records) as well as where she and her parents were born (also from the census records).  You may also have found a nickname that one or more of the members of the family was known by.



This page was created on April 29, 1999.
Copyright © 1999-2012 by Abby Balderama
Coordinator of the Kaufman County, TXGenWeb Project site
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

The Kaufman County, TXGenWeb Project Site
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