Q1: I see on a Census record that my ancestor's occupation was listed as 'cooper,' but I don't know what that is. How I can learn more about occupations and jobs throughout history?
Answer: There are numerous sources in the online genealogy community that can assist in defining and understanding your ancestor's occupation. Some offer era-specific examples and information, while others provide translations along with definitions. The list below will help get you started, but is in no way a comprehensive list.
FYI: The Oxford English Dictionary tells us that a 'cooper' is "a maker or repairer of casks and barrels."
Q2: My ancestor's last name is a bit unusual, but when I search for it I find several misspellings and variations in the results. What's going on?
Answer: Change is inevitable. Not just with the seasons, but, historically speaking, for many of us the spelling of our names has also changed over time. Whether intentionally or through human (or even technological) error, the spelling of names is a frequent hurdle for many genealogists to overcome when constructing name searches. More advice on how to become more comfortable with this inevitable occurrence and tips on how to better construct searches for name variation searching, read this Ancestry.com Blog entry linked in the Ancestry Library Edition Learning Center!
This section includes videos to help get started with genealogical research from the experts at Ancestry.
YouTube Videos from Ancestry
Introductory Power Points
Beyond the Basics