Evidence Analysis Found in Non-Genealogical Journals

Many of us rely on such publications as New England Historic Genealogical Society‘s Register, or especially the National Genealogical Society‘s NGS Quarterly, for examples of how researchers analyze evidence. I just had the lucky experience of reading a wonderful piece of evidence analysis in, of all things, the Nathaniel Hawthorne Review (published by the Nathaniel Hawthorne Society).

Several years ago, I was contacted by Joel Berson, who had stumbled across a set of messages I’d posted about research I was conducting into the adulterous relationships in my husband’s ancestry, one of which involved a 1781 trial that resulted in the man (as well as the woman) convicted having to wear the letter “A”. We corresponded for awhile, and Joel actually found and shared with me the details of that case, further advancing my own research. As it turned out, my own work advanced his research, which was a historical examination of adultery cases as they related to the story, The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Who knew that there is an entire journal dedicated to the study of this author, including examination of what sources Hawthorne used as a basis for the story of Hester Prynne’s adultery conviction?! Apparently, it’s quite controversial!

Joel’s article, “On the Trail of the Scarlet AD”, was just published in the Nathaniel Hawthorne Review, Spring 2013 (Vol. 39, No. 1). He shared an offprint with me. It is a fascinating read– well, for those of us who like to follow a researcher’s path from problem to solution, anyway. He reveals errors of past researchers and– no surprise — goes back to the original sources that clearly paint a different picture of how Hawthorne was likely to have come up with the details of Hester’s conviction. Makes me want to know what other kinds of historical journals are out there.

One challenge about such journals, though, is that they may not be online. The Nathaniel Hawthorne Review is not.

It’s not genealogy, per se, but the path Joel followed is a wonderful example of evidence analysis. AND, in the process, I learned a great deal about colonial Massachusetts adultery laws that will inform my future research, should I stumble across any more adulterous ancestors! Thanks, Joel!

What non-genealogy journals have you found useful to your own research process?

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Bringing Your Ancestors to Life: Research Rates

UPDATED September 2014

My rates for conducting research are the following:

  • General research: $50 per hour
  • Record copying (e.g., Civil War pension files), $2.00 each (scanned) or $1.00 (photocopied).
  • Transcription: $2 per line
  • Translation (German to English): $4 per line
  • Mileage: $ 0.55 per mile
  • Postage: at cost

Special Offer: Schwenningen Pedigrees

Because of my own deep research into the families of Schwenningen, Württemberg, Germany, I am able to offer a deeply discounted service to Schwenningen descendants.

I will generate a 5-generation per page pedigree of your most recent Schwenningen ancestor (usually the emigrating person), and compile the church records for everyone in that pedigree, resulting in a fully documented pedigree. Each pedigree page will include digital scans of cited and translated birth, marriage and death records for each of your direct-line Schwenningen ancestors.

Based on my general research rates, this would normally cost about $2,000 per 5-generation pedigree page (finding, copying, citing BMD for 31 people — 62 b/d records; 30 marriages).

Instead, I offer Schwenningen descendants a cost of $30 per person on a page, or $930 for a full, 5-generation pedigree page, with translation included at no additional cost.

Please contact me to take advantage of this special offer:


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Bringing Your Ancestors to Life Comes to WordPress

I’m Jillaine Smith. After a decade of conducting personal research for family and friends (see my personal genealogy Web site), I decided to pursue professional status in genealogical research and family history and now offer family history research services through “Bringing Your Ancestors to Life.”

What I can do for you

  • Get you started with your own research
  • Conduct research for you
  • Interview family members and draft oral histories (or coach you to do it yourself)
  • Provide assistance in the use of such genealogy software as:
    • Family Treemaker (Windows)
    • RootsMagic (Windows)
    • iFamily (Mac)
    • Reunion (Mac)
    • Ancestry.com (online)
    • Familysearch.org (online)
    • Rootsweb.com (online)

Please review my current Research Rates.


I am well-versed in conducting research in the following areas:

  • Colonial New England
  • Southern Germany (including the ability to read old German church records)
  • Online genealogy

I have volunteered in such related areas as:

I am a member of several genealogy associations:

I completed ProGen in July 2011, published a two-part article in the New England Historic Genealogical Society Register in July and October 2011, and am currently enrolled in the NGS Home Study Course, after which I expect to pursue formal certification with the Board for Certification of Genealogists.

For more information about my genealogy-related activities, visit:

Please Contact Me about how I can help you research your family history.

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