1 Reply Latest reply on Apr 2, 2019 10:34 AM by Rebecca Collier

    How do I search ancestors with common names and a birth year?


      I am searching for family ancestors (born in Washington, DC and Edgefield, SC in 1937 and 1938).  However both family members have very common names (James Martin and Wallace Martin).  Can you recommend any search options?

        • Re: How do I search ancestors with common names and a birth year?
          Rebecca Collier Guide

          Dear Vesper Osborne,


          Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!


          When researching individuals with common names, we suggest that you look for identifying details you have about that person besides their name (ie, date and place of birth, residence, names of family members, occupation, religion, ethnicity) because these specific details can help you differentiate between the individuals you locate.  Sometimes, it is helpful to create a timeline to organize the information you know to be true at given points in the individual’s life.


          Additionally, please look at FANs (Friends, Associates, and Neighbors) that they may have interacted with.  Who lived close? Who shows up as witnesses on county/state records you’ve found? In some cases, researching these other people can give you inroads to the person you are seeking.  Does your ancestor show up in any of the FANs’ records (ex. wills, land sales, etc)?


          Local land and tax records can often help differentiate people if you find that there are multiple people with the same name showing up in your searches.  No two people own the same property or were taxed on the same things.


          If you still haven’t had luck finding the individual with a standard name search, it may be worthwhile to consider a “no name” search where you have to rely on the other identifying details to try and complete a search within an online database.  This article talks about ways to approach this kind of search: https://familyhistorydaily.com/genealogy-help-and-how-to/no-name-search/.


          We hope this information is useful. Best of luck with your family research!


          [Information provided by Elizabeth Burned, Subject Matter Expert]


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