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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 […]

Less Is More, More Is Less

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

I’ve been analyzing some letters between a husband and wife. The wife’s brother is someone I’m researching and the siblings ancestry isn’t clear. Researching her should help me with him. She is also important in her own right to the story I want to tell. In these letters, they mention relatives and that should be […]

The Three Laws of Genealogy

Sunday, May 15th, 2011

I’ve gotten several requests lately to do an introductory presentation on genealogy. That got me to thinking about what is truly basic to getting started. People seem to like rules that come in threes. There are Kepler’s Three Laws of Planetary Motion, Newton’s Three Laws of Motion, Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics and the Three […]

Return to Mathmagic Land

Sunday, May 8th, 2011

A few things related to bias and understanding data have recently hinted to me that it is time to return to Mathmagic Land. Bias is something that scientists and historians need to think about. It can be in the data, or it can appear in what we do with the data and how we think […]

The Luck of the Irish

Sunday, March 20th, 2011

Another St. Patrick’s Day has come and gone. My kids are quite aware of being Swedish. They were born in Sweden after all. They’ve also been told more than once that their ancestry is more German than anything else. This time of year though, I get to remind them that they are part Irish as […]

Taking Walks with the Census Taker and my Dad

Sunday, March 6th, 2011

I’ve been preparing a new talk about maps and one of the things I will discuss is using Sanborn Maps. I have the images for my father’s home town from a few years before he was born. I also have the census that was taken a few months after he came into the world. Censuses […]

Crisscrossing the Atlantic

Sunday, February 27th, 2011

Getting back across the Atlantic is always a challenge. Immigrants’ names changed under the influence of English phonetics and naming patterns. Some intentionally picked names easier for their new neighbors to pronounce, names less foreign and more easily accepted. It was a long voyage and the great separation made it seem unimportant to record, with […]

Two Words, Too Many Meanings

Sunday, February 13th, 2011

I like thinking about thinking. A few lines I wrote and then deleted in a report reminded me of some concepts that come up when thinking about proving a hypothesis. The sentences that I erased went something like this—”Though the year in her birth record is two years before the one claimed or implied by […]

All the Angles

Sunday, January 30th, 2011

So you’ve found some new genealogical evidence. Time to put it into your database and start the next hunt. Or is it? What if someone handed you a new and strange physical object and said, “Here. This is for you. I think you’ll need it.” You probably wouldn’t just make a note “Received interesting object” […]

The Sagan Doctrine

Sunday, January 9th, 2011

I ran across a quote recently that got me thinking about the extraordinary. In an episode of Cosmos Carl Sagan said, Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. It is a catchy phrase. I think it is fairly clear what that little statement is trying to get across, though it perhaps isn’t so precise. What is missing […]

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