My name is Maggie Champion, and I am the sole proprietor of Maggie’s Genealogy Service.  I am a professional genealogist, and a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists.

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You have reached my Blog page.  My blog had its first post on Tuesday, 31 January 2012!

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Maggie Champion

Pension files – those hopefully-large pension files. We always hope for much information – information that will help to get through that brick wall.

Remember to look not only at the front of each sheet of paper, but also the back. It is amazing the information that I have found on the back!


Remember when we all used to use a “tree” when we were beginning our research?

Well, if you are stuck at a brick wall, drawing a tree may help. This will help you to get re-organized and learn everything that you know.

Try it!


When researching on the Internet, one can find an index for many types of records. Do you read the description of the index so that you know what is contained in the index?

As an example, has an index titled, “U. S., Naturalization Records Indexes, 1794-1995”. One could think that this index is for ALL naturalization records in the United States. However, if one looks at the description about what is included in the database, one will find that this is an index for naturalizations in Alaska, California, District of Columbia, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Oregon, and Pennsylvania. And, the index is for some of the records from these states.

So, if you are researching someone who was naturalized in Indiana, you will not find the person listed in this index.

Recently, I was researching probate records by looking on microfilm that was at the library. I had looked in the index for the person’s record, and gone to the page. I wasn’t sure how to email a copy to my email address, so I asked the librarian for assistance. She was very helpful! Along with showing me how to email the document, she explained that the “print guides” on the “screen” of the microfilm machine were not really what would be printed or sent by email. She explained that even though the guides showed all of the document within the “print” area, not all of the document would be captured.

Make sure that you understand exactly what will be captured when printing/emailing from the microfilm machine. You may think you are capturing the entire document because it is shown within the “guides”. But, you may not be getting all of it!


You have sorted through the family papers that were in your grandparents’ home. You have found precious documents – birth, marriage, and death certificates, diaries, letters. What do you do with them all?

First of all, make a copy of them. A photocopy will work. Then, what about scanning the item (could this be done at the same time a photocopy is made?). Saving a copy on your external hard drive and “in the cloud” will assure that you always have a copy.

If something does happen to the original, you will at the minimum have a copy. Your descendants will thank you!


When using FamilySearch or Ancestry, make sure you read the description of the database that has the records that are being displayed.

The title of the database may be, “Ohio Birth Records, 1800-1920”. However, do you know what counties are included in the database? Don’t assume the county of your ancestor’s birth is included – it may or it may not be included.


Have you ever found a “marriage” record and assumed that the couple did in fact marry?

Towards the later part of the 1800s, marriage records may have included the license to marry. The couple applied for the license, and were most likely granted the license. But, did they actually marry?

In my experience, there have been times when the license portion of the record is the primary portion – it may take up ¾ of the page. At the very bottom of the page, one will find the actual marriage record.

Make sure that you look at the very bottom of that page to make sure that the couple actually married. They may have gotten a license but never married!