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Researching Waldensian Ancestors


    No updates have been made to this web site since Dec 2012. More up to date information is availabe at the new web site of the Piedmond Families Organization at
    Waldensian Families Research.
    Please click on the above link for the latest information and assistance.

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    Basic Steps to Follow

    Basic Steps to Follow

    NOTE: Some people pick up family history research procedures quickly, but many want more help. If you wish more detail than this brief outline provides, we recommend the BYU Independent Study course, Waldensian Research. It will be available online and in print during the summer of 2000. Use this link to the Independent Study/Personal Enrichment homepage for a list of home study Family History courses. Use this link to the Independent Study/Personal Enrichment homepage to find Family History courses offered online.

        Regardless of where your Waldensian ancestors came from, it's vitally important that you follow the research procedure provided here.

        Standard genealogical procedure is to start with the most recent person or event and work systematically back to more remote ancestors. It is also important to document carefully everything you find (and everything you try that does not work, too--so that you don't repeat the steps again a few years later).

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        This may seem inefficient, but it's very important. The Waldensians followed a naming pattern that was almost never violated:

    A couple's first son was named after the father's father--the baby's paternal grandfather.
    The first daughter was named after the father's mother--the baby's paternal grandmother.
    The second son was named after the mother's father--the baby's maternal grandfather.
    The second daughter was named after the mother's mother--the baby's maternal grandmother.


        Let's suppose a Waldensian man named John married a woman named Mary. Over time, they had four sons and four daughters. If each of the sons lived, married, and had children, John would have four grandsons named John! That's a lot of Johns in the same generation, and telling them apart in the records can become challenging. And there could be up to four Marys among their granddaughters, too.

        For these reasons, it's crucial that you clarify what is already known about your Waldensian ancestors. The more you know about them and their family-the names of their siblings, where they were from, and so on-the more likely you are to succeed. Specifically, you should:

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        If you already have a system for keeping track of your research efforts, add the new information you find to your system.

        If you do not yet have a system, you should establish one now. Many people use manila folders, although this isn't the only approach that could be used. Determine to obtain a photocopy of each document that relates to your direct answers, and have an organized place to store them so you can find them again easily.

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        When you have completed these steps, according to the records still in existence, you are ready to continue research.

        Choose from the following, depending on where your Waldensian ancestors came from.

        Waldensians in other areas were generally absorbed rather quickly into local Protestant churches and should be sought in the records of those churches.

    A Caution

        In discussing the collections of family group records >described below, I must warn you of one serious problem. After exhausting the information provided by the Piedmont Project, most of the families in the Intermountain West of Waldensian descent independently hired a professional researcher to work in the notarial records, not microfilmed at that time. Unfortunately, he soon began falsifying his reports. I'm loath to name him, but others did competent work and you shouldn't discard their results; yet at the same time, you must not accept work by this man unless you personally view the microfilmed original records and they agree with the family group records produced from his reports. Family group records produced from his research give a statement something like this for the source of information: "research in the notarial records by Brian Leese, predating the parish registers." Information on such a family group record is *NOT* reliable.

        On some of these family group records, dates of supposed notarial documents are listed. Although we have scoured the notarial records, we have found only one such document that really existed (in one of his earliest reports)--and he misread the wife's maiden name in that one.

        But don't let this warning dissuade you from proceeding. I have personally had to remove well over 400 people (supposed ancestors, their pretended siblings and spouses) from my database because of his falsified reports. But I have replaced many of them with genuine people and relationships, and am in the process of replacing the others. And I'm ending up with more ancestors than I lost.

    Waldensian Records
    Finding Waldensians In The Valleys
         Finding French Waldensians
         Finding German Waldensians

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    What's New?   About the PFO   Family Researchers   Waldensian History   Research Helps   Waldensian Surnames   Comments & Queries   Related Links   Return to Home Page

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