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Rhonda's Tips: Genealogy Questions Answered
by Rhonda R. McClure

December 14, 2000
See Rhonda's Previous Columns

Ancestral File Information

Q: When facts have been submitted to the LDS Ancestral File and these facts are not correct, is there anyway of changing them? -- SRFW

A: The purpose of the Ancestral File database was to encourage the sharing of information. All of the information found in the Ancestral File was submitted by fellow researchers, just like you. Some of them are perhaps more methodical in their research than some of the others. In other instances, it could be that the conclusions shared have come from different resources than were at your disposal.

Unfortunately the ability to site sources in Ancestral Files is not an option. As a result, what is seen in the Ancestral File pedigrees and accompanying family group sheets are the conclusions of the submitter. And without sources sited, there is no way for those viewing this pedigree to evaluate that conclusion.

However, if you are certain that the information you have is correct and it conflicts with the information as it appears in the Ancestral File, there are steps for submitting changes. These steps are outlined in Correcting Information in Ancestral File. This publication can be picked up at your local Family History Center. The corrections need to be done on the computer within Ancestral File as it runs on the computers. At the present time this cannot be done online through the FamilySearch Web site.

Computerizing My Genealogy

Q: I have finished my family tree. It is so big that I'm having trouble fitting it in. It dates back to 1066. I have hand written it out but would really like to get it on computer. Do you have any suggestions on how to do this. -- Valerie

A: You are to be commended on such an arduous task. It has no doubt taken much time to compile such a family tree. The only way to get such a tree on the computer is to manually enter the information using one of a variety of genealogy programs.

The hard part is in deciding which of the programs currently available on the market will do what you want when it comes to presentation. I will say that after you have put all this information into a genealogy program, if you wish to display it on a single chart, it is likely you will need to print out pages that are then compiled into a final wall chart.

You can get an idea of the capabilities of Family Tree Maker by visiting the Family Home Pages section and looking at a variety of the different pages created. Many of the reports displayed online are the same ones that you can create on paper with your program and printer, with the exception of the InterneTree.

Working with the Dawes Rolls

Q: Once you find your relatives on the rolls what do you do? I mean, exactly what type of information do you get once these records are ordered? Also, how do you go about ordering these family records? -- Denise

A: In order to understand what types of records you are likely to find in a file compiled by the Dawes Commission, it is first important to understand why the commission was created in the first place. The Dawes Commission was created by a Congressional Act in 1893. Their purpose was to work with the Cherokee, Chicksaw, Choctaw, Creek and Seminole nations of Oklahoma, what was actually Indian Territory at the time, to dissolve the tribal governments. The land was then to be divided and given, through allotments, to individuals.

The citizens were then enrolled in one of the following categories:

  • Blood
  • Marriage
  • Minors (those born during the enrollment period)
  • Freedmen (former slaves)
  • Delaware (adopted by the Cherokee nation)

Obviously in order to properly enroll the individuals in one of these categories, certain questions were asked of the individuals, and certain documents needed to be supplied. These are just a few of the records you are likely to find in the files.

  • Marriage certificates
  • Birth records
  • Typed interviews with the individuals
  • Death records
  • Letters

The good news is that these records are available on microfilm. They can be ordered through your local Family History Center. When searching the Family History Library Catalog, you will need to look under Oklahoma - Native Races.

New England Research

Q: Why can't I find very much information about New England ancestors on the Internet? And why can't I find the same information at the Church of Latter Day Saints, which is suppose to have the most extensive files available? -- Clare

A: It is important when researching in New England to remember at what level the records are found. For most records, such as vital records, those records have been maintained at the town level. If you are using search engines, and typing in a search term of "New England", I can imagine that you may be disappointed. The same would be true of the Family History Library's holdings.

First, the best place to begin your research for New England is through the state sites on the USGenWeb site. Through these sites you will learn about various repositories, find out what is available online and be in contact with other researchers who share your interests.

As for the records available through the Family History Library of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, their microfilmed collection for New England is extensive. These records are accessible by visiting your local Family History Center. At your Family History Center, you can request the microfilms to be sent from Salt Lake City for viewing at your local center.

While some of this information is available online through the FamilySearch Web site, you will find that the true wealth of information from the Family History Library is through the microfilms of original records.

You will also find many useful CD-ROMs available through Genealogy.com in their Family Archives section.


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 the author of the award-winning The Complete Idiot's Guide to Online Genealogy, now in its second edition. She is the author of four how-to guides on Family Tree Maker. In late 2001, she wrote The Genealogist's Computer Companion. She is a contributing editor to Biography Magazine with her "Celebrity Roots" column and a contributing writer to The History Channel Magazine. Her latest book is Finding Your Famous and Infamous Ancestors. She may be contacted at rhondagen@thegenealogist.com.

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