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War Diary

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014

We got an email from Germany this week. It said that after 2 1/2 years of work, they had finished the graphic novel that contains part of my children’s great-grandfather’s diary from WWI. The goal is to interest young people in their history, something that we as family historians deal with often. It tells the […]

The Nonfiction Contract

Sunday, June 1st, 2014

We research our ancestors to learn the facts about them, about their lives, their times, the places they lived, their occupations, and travels. The list, as they say, goes on. First we gather documents that are clearly relevant. Then we gather documents that are more subtly related to our ancestors. Though we may never finish […]

Travel

Sunday, May 25th, 2014

It is a long weekend in the U.S. The one that traditionally starts the summer. For many it is a weekend for getting into the car and driving, sometimes down expressways, sometimes down smaller, winding roads. As a child one of the things that fascinated me about driving vacations was how once one returned to […]

Memory Palace

Sunday, December 8th, 2013

Every once in a while I hear someone make a comment about how they can only name people along a few generations of their ancestry even if they have researched a dozen generations. I find that there is something mesmerizing or perhaps meditative about turning a family tree over in one’s mind, running through the […]

A Genealogist’s Halloween

Sunday, October 20th, 2013

Ding Dong! (latch clicks, door opens) “Trick or Treat!” “Oh, aren’t you cute! A broken microfilm reader! And what are the rest of you?” “I’m really inaccurate search results!” “Oh, yes I see! And look, you’re a gedcom file that includes King Arthur and Hercules. Wow, now that is scary!” “Who else do we have […]

Heathcliff meets Sherlock Holmes

Sunday, October 6th, 2013

What we present to others, especially non genealogists, are usually the  condensed results of research. They would probably not want all the gory details so instead we give them the dry bones, which aren’t necessarily any more palatable. What is it that we should convey? What is it that holds interest? The Medium is the […]

Transience and Permanence

Sunday, June 16th, 2013

After a long day of triangulating families in Griffith’s Valuation, I needed a break and managed to take my first somewhat long bike ride of the year. I took a route that I have taken many times before. The deep forest and the slow-flowing river give a sense of timeless permanence. They were there like […]

Learning and Imagining

Sunday, March 4th, 2012

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” -Albert Einstein That is an intriguing quote. When you first encounter it, that quote doesn’t have the feel of  something that a scientist, a pursuer of knowledge, would say. Surely, dreaming of polka-dotted unicorns is not what he was putting above knowledge. It isn’t really. There is more to […]

The Hard Part is Knowing What to Leave Out

Sunday, October 9th, 2011

When Steve Jobs passed away a few days ago, the news popped up on my Mac and I read his obituaries online. Somehow that seemed both natural and fitting. There were many, many angles in those obituaries. He was a CEO, technology visionary and showman but what struck me were all the mentions of his […]

The End of a Good Story

Sunday, October 2nd, 2011

Not long ago I finished a book for a client. The necessary research was completed. The boxes of memorabilia had been checked and double checked. The text was all written. The stories had been told. The photographs all laid out on their pages. I sent off the cover art and the main file for printing […]

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