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Content or Context?

Sunday, March 17th, 2013

I remember hearing a story years ago of a man who sat in an archive, in Spain or perhaps Portugal, sniffing documents. He was trying to detect the subtle, lingering sent of vinegar. Why? Long ago people attempted to prevent the spread of disease by sprinkling mail with vinegar. A letter might claim “we are […]

A Word from their Sponsors

Sunday, February 10th, 2013

Do you have any ancestors that seem to be the end of the line? Forebears that resist every effort to discover enough to go back any further? Try working on someone else. No, I don’t mean give up. I mean work on someone who seems suspicious, someone who seems to be associated with your ancestor. […]

Clues to Clues

Sunday, February 3rd, 2013

Do you ever read compiled genealogies? Your answer is probably “yes” and if it isn’t, it probably should be. Part of doing research is understanding what has already been done. Once you know what has been done the next step is to figure out if it has been done right. The next step is not […]

Duckuments

Sunday, January 27th, 2013

Duckument* (n) – papers that reveal a terrible error. Origin- derived from the Cold War civil defense phrase “duck and cover” combined with the word document. Genealogists encountering a duckument are advised to hide beneath their desks until they come to terms with the duckument’s implications. Classification of Duckuments Duckuments are found in three types- […]

Tall Tales

Sunday, January 20th, 2013

When I started being interested in my family history one of the things my aunt taught me was that sometimes family stories turn out to be wrong. It was an easy lesson for her to teach. The family story that had most fascinated me was something that she proved to be untrue. That story had […]

The Shoebox in No-Man’s-Land

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

There is a facet of research that nags at me every so often. The other day was one of those days. Sometimes when we find something, we know exactly what it means. We can almost immediately claim that we understand it fairly well and if we are lucky and thinking clearly, we won’t need to […]

Writing the Fine Print

Sunday, August 5th, 2012

Every genealogist knows, or should know, that keeping track of sources is a must. Each fact should have a source. There is something hidden in that last statement. It assumes we have a clear idea of what a “fact” is. Do we? Slicing and Dicing How small can a fact be? Is someone’s name a […]

Genealeverage

Sunday, July 1st, 2012

The word leverage can be used in many ways. It means one thing in finance, another in social relationships. The original sense comes from engineering. It is simply the way in which a force can be made more effective through he use of a lever. At its simplest, a lever is a rigid rod that […]

Tax Time

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

Like so many others in the U.S. I’ve been working on my taxes. It is that time of year. As a family historian, my mind naturally drifts to a time before TurboTax, stacks of receipts even before real tax forms. When Congress approved the first ever income tax during the American Civil War, it was […]

You Never Know Until You Ask

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

Last week I asked a cousin if she had some pictures that had belonged to her mother, my Aunt Melva, who recently passed away. My cousin’s husband said, “Oh I have those scanned and put on CD. Do you want one? I can get it to you next week.” Yes, I certainly did want one. […]

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