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Uncertainty 

Sunday, May 31st, 2015

Being unsure is a pretty common thing in genealogy. It is an inherent part of research to be uncertain and to work to reduce the uncertainty. One of the things that can go wrong in research is to forget to have doubts. Usually the uncertainty we have is because we suspect we might have the […]

Contrafactual Genealogy

Sunday, May 24th, 2015

The other day I heard a program that discussed whether or not contrafactual history was “real” history. Some argue that history should only be concerned with what actually happened. Playing with “what if” questions might be fun, but it is fiction, not history. Others contend that analyzing other possibilities, paths that never got a chance […]

Gaps in the Curb

Sunday, May 17th, 2015

Just yesterday I was driving home from a presentation and I passed where an aunt of mine once lived. Now you can only guess that people once lived there. The house is gone and nothing has replaced it. The land is covered by grass and a scatter of trees but, on closer inspection, the empty […]

The Genealogists’ Alphabet, part F

Sunday, May 10th, 2015

Sometimes the past doesn’t need to be so distant to seem far away. Cleaning out things that the kids have outgrown turned up one of those typical alphabet books that are for kids that can’t yet read. The kind of book whose genealogist version might start— A is for archive with papers in boxes to […]

Forgetting

Sunday, May 3rd, 2015

Recently, a project of mine ended before it even began. The person who was to be the beneficiary, and from whose memories the project was to begin, only wanted to forget. It happens, of course, but it’s a sad thought, to be brought up in a way that one only wants to forget. No one […]

The Privilege of Time Travel

Sunday, April 26th, 2015

One of the privileges of doing any sort of historical research is the sense of traveling through time. It can be what we normally think of as historical research, or genealogical, or even archeological research. In genealogy we often need to involve general history in our work. It can give us guidance, both by helping […]

The Genealogists’ Alphabet, part E

Sunday, April 19th, 2015

Sometimes the past doesn’t need to be so distant to seem far away. Cleaning out things that the kids have outgrown turned up one of those typical alphabet books that are for kids that can’t yet read. The kind of book whose genealogist version might start— A is for aunt, who got you interested in […]

Who Did They Think They Were?

Monday, April 6th, 2015

I’m in the planning stages of a new presentation about questions of identity in genealogy. With that in my mind, I found a copy of LAS News (from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at The University of Illinois) waiting for me in my mailbox. I flipped to the first article, Thinking Outside the […]

Mad Men

Sunday, March 29th, 2015

Even if your ancestors never worked on Madison Avenue, some of them may have written an advertisement or two, and put a touch of their personality into their writing. In 1774 a pair of men took out ads in the Pennsylvania Packet. They didn’t know each other. It was just coincidence that their ads were […]

Strix Noctua

Saturday, March 21st, 2015

A few years ago I proposed that the pushmi-pullyu should be the official mascot of genealogy. There is something that happens to me over and over again, and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. In its honor, I’ve delayed this post until night has fallen. It has also made me realize that genealogy also needs […]

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