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Romanov Cocktail

Sunday, August 21st, 2011

On July 19, 1918 at about 2 am, a firing squad left a puzzle for DNA to solve. Over the previous eighteen months, Russia had undergone two revolutions, capitulated to Germany and suffered an ongoing civil war between communist and anti-communist armies. The  first revolution led to the Tsar’s abdication. The second revolution and the […]

School of Hard Knox

Sunday, August 14th, 2011

“Aunt Debbie” has been my nemesis for a while now. I’ve mentioned her before as I’ve tried to decide if she is a red herring or an important clue for a client. I know of her from letters that don’t tell me whose aunt she was, let alone how she might be related to one […]

To confirm or not to Confirm?

Sunday, July 10th, 2011

To confirm or not to confirm? That was not Hamlet’s question, partly because he was pondering weightier matters and partially because people, including presumably even Hamlet, have a very strong tendency to subconsciously choose “confirm.” We simply tend not to ask ourselves my opening question. We tend to confirm. “Confirmation bias” as it is technically […]

Making Preserves

Sunday, July 3rd, 2011

I thought that since my last two posts had been about preserved landscapes and preserved buildings, I ought to make it three of a kind by writing about preserving things, something that genealogists not only can take advantage of, but can actually do. Fortuitously, last weekend I attended a program about preserving objects at the […]

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 […]

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