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Leading the charge in 2015

So, putting the top DNA posts of 2015 aside after this past Sunday’s post, The Legal Genealogist continues the look back at this year with a review of the top posts overall in 2015.

top10.2015There are some interesting choices here, and these are judged solely by the amount of reader attention they drew. My own choices would have included more family posts… but that was a post for another day.1

Readers focused on issues ranging from copyright to genealogy software options.

So… what were the top reader choices for general stories for the year 2015?

Let’s do the Top 10 countdown:

At Number 10 for 2015:

Read the directions (23 November): “What’s an ‘inmate’ on a United States census return? Who was listed as the ‘head of household’? What was a ‘housekeeper’? And why in the world isn’t the however-many-great-grandaunt born in May listed on the 1910 census?”

At Number 9:

Death in the wrong place (21 January ): “The question popped up on a Facebook group, and a reader promptly alerted The Legal Genealogist to this most interesting issue. Why would a death certificate be issued by the State of Montana when the person died in another state?1”

At Number 8:

Raising Arizona (27 July): “Another major genealogical collection is under major and imminent threat of being lost — this time in Arizona. Unless something changes — and fast — the Arizona State Library Genealogy Collection — a vast collection of more than 20,000 volumes, many of them irreplaceable — is about to be lost to public access.”

At Number 7:

Stop middling along! (24 August): “So yesterday, in the course of reviewing the DNA evidence that disproves persistent family lore of Native American ancestry, The Legal Genealogist whined about the fact that so many cousins want to turn third great grandfather Elijah Gentry into Jacob Elijah Gentry. Why Jacob? I have no idea. But there were, as of yesterday, 201 family trees on — 167 public and 34 private trees — that listed Elijah Gentry of Mississippi as Jacob Elijah Gentry. … They’re all wrong. Wrong about his name, wrong about his wife’s Native American ancestry — wrong, wrong, wrong.”

At Number 6:

Credit and copyright (19 February): “The question came from a reader who was honestly perplexed about the whole issue. She was very careful to cite her sources, she said, and she thought that was enough. ‘If we credit the speaker or lecturer, and share it with a friend or group, are we infringing on your copyright?’ she asked. ‘Must we ask permission if credit is given?’”

At Number 5:

Remembering Meredith (25 July): “When the telephone rings at five o’clock in the morning, you know the news is not going to be good. And that morning in June, 10 years ago, The Legal Genealogist‘s family had been expecting some bad news.”

At Number 4:

The limits of ownership (20 August): “It’s a persistent question that has reader Sherri perplexed in trying to understand her rights to a photograph of her grandparents: the question of the difference between owning a particular thing and owning the copyright to that thing.”

At Number 3:

Dear Ben… (25 April): “Ben Affleck was ‘embarrassed’ to discover that he had slaveowning ancestors. ‘The very thought left a bad taste in (his) mouth.’ No foolin’. That’s about the reaction all of us would have — should have — on first discovering the reality of slave ownership in our own families.”

At Number 2:

Check out the alternatives (9 December): “Yes, Ancestry did announce yesterday that it’s discontinuing its Family Tree Maker software. No, it’s not the end of the world. Really. Promise. Would The Legal Genealogist lie?.”

And the Number One general post for 2015:

Copyright and the genealogy lecture (18 February): “(N)o, dear conference goer, actually, it’s not okay. It’s not okay to use your cellphone or your tablet to record every word a genealogical speaker says at a conference lecture. It’s not okay to take pictures of every slide (or even any of the slides). And it’s not okay to take the handout prepared for the lecture and reproduce it to share it with others.”

On to 2016… with one last 2015 sidetrip to the top 10 posts ever.2


  1. Last Saturday, to be precise… See Judy G. Russell, “2015 top posts: family,” The Legal Genealogist, posted date ( : accessed 28 Dec 2015).
  2. That are still worth reading, that is… Some great posts are just too out-of-date to bother with!
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