Tuesday’s Tip – Organize Those Death Certificates

My business is composed of two main types of research. Military and Italians in Chicago. I haven’t blogged about the genealogy/Italians in a while so thought I would share my strategy for organizing records. I’m focusing specifically on death certificates.

The bulk of my genealogical client work revolves around Italians from Ricigliano who came to Chicago. If you have done Italian genealogy you know there is a naming pattern and after a while, everyone in the tree looks the same. You also know there are many intermarriages of cousins and it is common to see the same named couples more than once.

Two years ago I was deep into research for the Rigis and pulled all the main surname death certificates from the Illinois State Archives. Serritella, Malpede, Meccia, Catena, Pacelli, DeLeonardis/Leonardis. I pulled over 200 death certificates.

Yes – over 200!

How do you deal with all those death certificates when the names all look the same after a while? The easiest way I found was to create an Excel spreadsheet of the certificates. It looks a little like the image below. For every certificate I was able to place into the tree, I highlighted the line blue.

Death Certs excel

The best things about this arrangement are:

  • I can sort by surname
  • I can sort by address
  • I can sort by father or mother
  • I can sort by informant
  • Or any other sort I desire

Each of these sort options gives me a new perspective. This morning I was digging around the file and was able to place just a few more certificates with the appropriate people. It was fantastic.

Give Excel a try the next time you feel overwhelmed with research files. It is an excellent way to keep track of everyone!

© 2014, Jennifer Holik

 

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Military Monday – Excerpt from “The Tough O’mbres”

On May 8, I will release my next book Stories of the Lost, available through my author website. You can pre-order a signed copy today! This is an excerpt of one chapter about James Privoznik, a 90th Division Ordnance Soldier turned Infantry.

The Battle of the Bulge

 

Image credit "Peragimus We Accomplish"

Image credit “Peragimus We Accomplish”

Heavy fighting had been occurring in the Ardennes for two weeks between the Germans and our forces. The generals met and discussed tactics and it was decided that Patton’s Third Army which included the 90th Division, would be committed to fight the Nazi’s at the Bulge.

The weather in Northern Europe went from cold and rainy to frigid and snowy. Heavy snow began to fall, temperatures dropped below zero, roads became impassible, and biting winds hit us as we moved. The Army did not provide adequate winter clothing and we proceeding in our Army green camouflage uniforms rather than winter white camouflage. Our boots were also inadequate and our feet were in constant danger of freezing.

Within days of the snow, the elevated lands in France, Germany, and Luxembourg were frozen and roads were nearly impassable. We struggled to find rock or wood or anything that might help us clear the roads and provide some traction. It was slow going from place to place during this time.

On December 23, we moved to Elzange, France about eight miles from Veckring. Four days later, on December 27, I was transferred into the 90th Divisions, 358th Infantry Regiment with no refresher training in combat skills. I left the Ordnance unit stationed at Elzange and proceeded to meet the 358th. I joined the 358th Infantry Regiment, Company F, at Wehingen, Germany, on the 29th of December.  Once in the 358th we were sent out on patrol to gather information and capture German prisoners when possible. Our job was to keep the Germans from advancing any further into the Ardennes.

General Patton issued a Christmas Greeting on prayer cards at Christmas. Patton asked everyone to pray for good weather, for the rains to cease and for victory to be theirs. In part his prayer said, “call upon Thee that named with power we may advance from victory to victory and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies…”

© 2014, Jennifer Holik, Generations, Woodridge, IL
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