Saturday, August 18, 2012

Ephemera of the Unrelated

The other day while my kindergartener was having his first half day of school I tackled organizing my office. I managed to get quite a bit done, but I still have a lot left to do. At least I can finally see the desk, which is an accomplishment.

Anyway, while filing papers and creating files for others I had a nagging question. What do you do with documents, newspaper articles, or general ephemera of people that share a surname of interest but seem to be unrelated? For example, I have a Civil War pension file of a George W. Fry born in Missouri and died in California. My ggg grandfather, George W. Fry, was also born in Missouri but died in Colorado. They were both born about the same time in Clinton County. So theoretically it's possible they are related somehow. After all, there was a large migration of Fry brothers that moved to this county in the early 1800's.

This same question came up during my week at NIGR in the reading room at NARA. There were a few of us that pulled records, only to find out that the person was not a relation. It seemed a little sad to send the record back to the stacks without making a copy. What if somebody could really use that record who can't make it to D.C., can't afford to order it, or doesn't know about its existence yet? One classmate said that she takes a photo of a few pertinent pages and posts information on a tree on This seemed like a nice idea, but I wasn't clear on how she manages or arranges the information on the tree.

So for the time being I've placed the pension file in a hanging file folder labelled "Unrelated Fry." I have other stuff that I've put in similar folders under different surnames. I hate to throw it out for right now, especially down the road if it turns out to be a leaf on a far flung branch.

What do you do with these items? I'd love to hear from you!

1 comment:

  1. I have an "One Name Tree" on Ancestry, that I add these people to. In the profile I "Add a Fact" with my source and info, always noting that I am not related. I have added in-law relatives , family neighbors and misc people.
    A signature from a book signed in 1890 was added to this tree. It would be neat if a relative connected so I could give them the book.
    I have also added Photos from cemeteries of people my family knew and a couple photos of their friends at family gatherings.
    When I have a second person with the same name and similar birth/death I also note them as an "add a Fact" in my tree for my relative under Conflicting George.
    This helps when those shaky leaves show up with the wrong George.