A-Z Challenge Surnames U


There is no U surname in my tree….

Therefore, I will do what I did for the O surname that I don’t have either. I’m going to talk about UNDERSTANDING SOMETIMES INFORMATION CAN”T BE FOUND.


This is a hard pill to swallow for most people and especially for genealogists who go to great lengths to find information for their clients. The reasons for not finding the information are many.

  1. Sometimes the record just doesn’t exist. For example, a baptism wasn’t done or a marriage didn’t actually happen or wasn’t recorded. There have been examples in research I’ve done where a couple have 9 children and I can only find 5 baptisms even though they never ever moved away from the same town. I’ve also spent years trying to find a marriage that never happened. I had incorrectly assumed it did because a census record said the couple were married!
  2. Records can be lost to fire, flood or destruction on purpose. Many records were lost in Europe during the World Wars because of bombings. In Ireland they were either destroyed on purpose or were lost to the great fire during “the troubles”.
  3. Every parish priest or reverend was responsible for keeping their own records and not all of them did a good job!
  4. Some records were lost during moves from one location to another.

Genealogists follow the Genealogical Proof Standard when doing their research. One of things required of us when working for a client is to do a “reasonably exhaustive search” of all records to try and solve the question.

I think I can vouch for most genealogists when I say that we usually go over and beyond in our exhaustive search. The detective in us makes us dig and dig until we find the information we are looking for. It’s very frustrating for us and our clients when we can’t find the information. Most clients who have come to me have already done a lot of research and are hoping my expertise will come up with the missing information they can’t find. Unfortunately, even with all the information out there, it’s not always the case.

Another thing to keep in mind is when taking on a project for yourself or for a client, to always confirm the information you are starting with is accurate. I have had situations where I spent a lot of time looking for someone and the information given to me was incorrect to begin with. Then when questioned, I was told “oh yeah, that’s not their real name, that’s the name they went by!”

More and more information is being digitized and put on the internet. This is fantastic for those of us who’s ancestors lived in different countries and we can’t go there. We must remember though that a HUGE amount of information in NOT on the internet and may never be put there. Archives, churches, libraries, repositories, local family history societies, schools and university libraries and newspaper archives all hold valuable information that might not be accessible via the internet. It pays to physically go to these places to do some searching.

Try and also remember that, if hiring a professional to do your research, that you still need to pay for the time they have taken to try and find this information- whether it’s found or not. They still most likely took hours and hours to try and find it and may have driven to various locations as well. Their time and expertise IS valuable and you can feel that all avenues have been explored to try and find what you were looking for.



About tiesthatbindsite

I'm a genealogist with a passion for Scottish and English ancestry. I'm trilingual so I can also do research in French Canadian records and Italian records. My love for family history began 35 years ago and continues to grow every day. My family is very important to me and I hope to instill in them a love for "where they came from" so that they can better understand who they are. I also want to share my love of family history with anyone who understands how important it is to not lose site of their ancestors. They all have a story to tell.
This entry was posted in April 2016- A-Z Challenge and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A-Z Challenge Surnames U

  1. It sounds like a lot of work goes into this and you still can’t be sure that you’ll find all the relevant info you want.
    It has to be a labor of love!

    I’m visiting via the A to Z Challenge.
    Writer In Transit
    Co-host Assistant on Team Joyful Brigade.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s