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

September 05, 2002
See Rhonda's Previous Columns

Apprenticeship Records

Q: Is there anyway to find information on apprenticeship records? I'm trying to find information on a Uriah Perkins (b. July 1812 in Kentucky), who served as an apprentice for a cabinet maker. He was orphaned as a child and raised by the cabinet maker's family. Unfortunately, that's all the information that I have been able to find. Do apprenticeship records exist? If so, how can I go about locating them? -- Letitia

A: First, yes, apprenticeship records exist but they are sometimes included in other records (most often the guardianship records).

When searching for either kind of record you will need to know at least the county where the guardianship or apprenticeship was established. This is true in Kentucky. You know that Uriah Perkins was born in Kentucky in 1812. Where is he in 1850? While he would be 38 years old it is possible he is still in the same county in which he was born. It is certainly a place to start. If he owned land in that county, you may want to see if the land records give you any indication as to when he arrived in the county and where he came from.

Tax records are another way to try to establish if he was living in that county all along. Usually a male will appear in the tax lists as soon as he reached the age of majority. I suspect that in your case that Uriah should begin to show up in the tax lists in 1833. Usually the first few entries of a male are for a horse rather than any land or dwellings. Men were usually still single and only owned a horse, if that much. That is another good indication that the tax entry is for someone just reaching the age of majority.

If the county in which he is living in 1850 does not appear to be the one in which he grew up, you might want to look at the surrounding counties and do similar searches to see if you can pick him up as he is becoming a man. It may require that you search tax and land records for each county that surrounds the county you found him in the 1850 census.

Once you have established the county, then your first step should be the Family History Library Catalog. The CD version that individuals can purchase offers a Keyword search. In doing this on the terms "apprentice" and "Kentucky" I discovered that there are apprenticeship records for just a few counties that are available on microfilm, and of those most of the records started much later than what you would want. However, you might want to also search any Occupation sub-heading for the county in question as they are often found there, using the Place search rather than the Keyword search.

It is more likely that you will find Uriah Perkins in the guardianship records. Based on what you described, it sounds like the cabinet maker was made responsible for the boy until he was of age. This would require that the cabinet maker be made his guardian. Guardianship records are available on microfilm through the Family History Library for almost every county in Kentucky.

Depending on what has been microfilmed, you are likely to not only find the bond for the cabinet maker (usually all you will find in the apprenticeship records) but you may also find accountings of how the guardian is doing by the child.

Sharing a Birth Certificate

Q: I have an original birth certificate of a relative (by marriage ) in my family. Since no one can really remember who this person is, I am unsure of what to do with this old document. Do you know of any place I might be able to donate this to so it might be of use to somebody? Hope you can help me. -- Rozanne

A: It is nice of you to want to share such a precious document with those to whom it might mean more. The thing I would suggest you do is to post queries. You might also want to think about sharing it online as a digitized image, if you can prove that the individual is deceased. While it is most likely that he or she is, it is always a good idea to know for sure where vital records are concerned. There are some laws that protect such records that may cause you some trouble if the person was indeed still alive.

For the queries, I would post a query on the GenForum Forum for both the state and the surname in question. Be sure to list enough identifying information for descendants to recognize that the record is of their ancestor. You may also want to seek out other mailing lists and other places of communication to share what you have.

Many of the USGenWeb Project pages offer different features including bulletin boards and sometimes files that can be downloaded. If the county in question for the birth certificate offers such a place for a digitized image, you might think of scanning it and sharing it so that many can view it. Then hold onto the original until someone contacts you.

By having a digitized image as well, once you have given the original away, if someone should come along later on who is also a descendant you could send them either the file or a printout of the file. It would never be permanently gone, especially if you place queries. You never know when someone will read a query and this way since you would be the contact person on the query you could still help the person contacting you.

Which Tree to Use

Q: I need to do a family tree for school and can't figure out how to reflect siblings of my direct ancestors, step-family members, etc. Is there any help you can provide? -- Melissa

A: Actually a true tree, as in a pedigree, is usually just the direct lineage from yourself back each generation, doubling with each generation. For instance, there is you, your two parents, your four grandparents, your eight great-grandparents, and so on. It sounds though as if your teacher is wanting more from you than this.

If you are doing this in a genealogy program, you will need to see if the program offers a way to add siblings on the Pedigree or Ancestor tree. Family Tree Maker does offer such an ability. This allows you to show the siblings of just yourself or of each person on the tree. Of course it creates a large and sometimes unwieldy chart.

If you are putting this on some sort of poster board then I fear you will meet with frustration. Plotting out a standard pedigree chart and assuring that you have left room for each subsequent generation is tricky enough. When you add siblings this can get more difficult.

If you are doing the chart by hand, while not completely accepted, you might consider creating a box under each direct ancestor, below his or her own life events, where you write the name of the siblings, and perhaps their year of birth so that the person looking at the chart can get an idea of where in the list of siblings your direct ancestor fit.

If you are doing this using a computer, then I would suggest you limit your chart to four or five generations at the most. As it is, you will find that the tree when created probably requires more than one page be put together to display the entire tree. In Family Tree Maker the program lists your direct ancestor on top and then in each box for the ancestor tree it lists the names and events of each sibling below, divided by a less prominent line. As a result the boxes can be quite long, and few generations can fit on a single 8x11 inch sheet of paper.

Recording Female Names

Q: When making a family tree, do you put the woman's maiden name in parenthesis, or her married name? For instance, my married name is Smith, and my maiden name is Jones. Do I write my name on the family tree as Susan Gwen Smith (Jones), or Susan Gwen Jones (Smith)? -- Susan

A: When recording women on any type of genealogical chart or when entering them into any genealogy software you use just the maiden name.

In your example the entry would be Susan Gwen Jones.

It is as you view the pedigree, or ancestor, tree or the family group sheet that you see the surname of the husband and thus know what name to search when looking for the records of the woman after she was married.

You will find in some books, especially indexes of early marriages, such as Clarence Almon Torrey's New England Marriages Before 1700 that the book has included the maiden name of a woman in parenthesis if she was married once before the marriage being recorded. Generally though such entries just serve to confuse researchers.

As your example above shows, the person is left to wonder was the surname in parenthesis the maiden name or the married name, especially if they are seeing the female's name listed by itself without the identifying husband's name.

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

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