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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 […]

A Garden of a Forebear’s Five Senses

Sunday, September 25th, 2011

I’m not a great gardener but I always enjoy gardens. Sometimes gardens are simple beds of flowers but they can also be carefully thought through botanical spaces with rock walls, trellises, and paths. Some of my favorite memories of historical homes, castles and palaces are the formal gardens and private parks sometimes found there. They […]

A Visit to the Old World

Sunday, August 7th, 2011

A neighbor and I just took a small herd of kids to one of my favorite living history sites, Old World Wisconsin. I’ve probably been there more than a half a dozen times over the years and like any good bit of living history, you learn something new every time if you keep your eyes […]

Interview with Dad

Monday, May 30th, 2011

Back in March, I wrote about a wonderful conversation I had over the phone with my dad. I was looking at a Sanborn map that showed the neighborhood where he was born. I had a few questions about it for a presentation I was preparing and thought I would give him a quick ring. I […]

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