Thursday, October 3, 2013

It Pays to Know the FAQs

Having found myself stymied by lack of results—especially integrated results combining the names of all John Kelly's family members—I resorted to doing the one thing I know best: looking around for more answers.

I mentioned that the One Step program seemed to have some additional helpful search options. That was my next destination.

Of course, step one for me was to see if I could find any record of a ship arriving in New York harbor on the exact date of John Kelly's statement in his Declaration of Intent: August 16, 1867. Did you know, try as I might, I could not flush out any ship names for that date?

Perhaps the search engine failed me.

Undaunted, I tried another approach. When in doubt, read the directions.

And so, to the FAQs I went.

Now I know it may be possible that someone reading here might not be aware of what the acronym FAQ means. In that case, let me enlighten you. It refers to Frequently Asked Questions.

There you have it: my FAQ about FAQs.

But you already knew that. Of course, I have a secondary reason for trudging through that rudimentary exercise: to re-emphasize that maybe the reason such questions are "Frequently Asked" is because lots of people couldn't find the answers for themselves despite their own diligent search. So it is okay to ask those frequently asked questions. One is in good company to have questions like this pop into one's mind.

Trawling through Steve Morse's list of FAQs, I discovered some things that made me feel at least slightly better about not finding my John Kelly. Or my Johanna Kelly. Or any of their three children.
  • There are records missing from the Castle Garden website
  • Not all records are transcribed yet
  • There are even some records included on this site of ships that arrived in other ports
  • There are no manifest images posted on the Castle Garden website
Wait! You say no manifest images online? You mean I have to rely solely on transcribed images on the Castle Garden website? What if the handwriting was read incorrectly? What if a transcriber skipped a line on a document? What if that name was the one I'm looking for?

Considering all that, it was a relief to read that images are available at Even better, the One Step website integrates seamlessly—well, we'll find out—with the records at Ancestry.

For those of you who wish to see for yourself, take a look at the One Step site's FAQs, particularly the items numbered 104 through 106.

You can be sure I'll be testing these out. Anything that brings me closer to my goal without requiring me to slog through microfilms of material the old-fashioned way rates primo in my book.


  1. It seems that if the data is "out there" the limitations of the search engine are making hard to locate. :(

  2. Replies
    1. Well...frustrating for now. I've found that, if I just wait a while, often enough additional records get added to databases online that provide at least some of the information I am seeking.


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