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Records that Are Something More

Sunday, January 12th, 2014

As genealogists we mine records for information. Sometimes that is how we see records—as information mines. There is nothing wrong with that as far as it goes. Data about our ancestors is what we need to rediscover the past and we extract it from records. It is important though to go beyond those specifics that […]

A Place is not Just a Place

Sunday, January 5th, 2014

One of the thoughts that occurs to me regularly is how tricky the word “place” can be. We use it without really thinking about what lies underneath. It seems like such a simple concept. I’m in one place as I write. You are in another as you read. Those places have names. They have latitudes […]

The Slow Days of Yule

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

Life seems to slow down this time of year. It is a bit of a paradox because, of course, Christmas is one of the most hectic of times. Once the shopping madness is over and cooking gives way to warming leftovers, the year comes full circle and there is time to breathe before the holidays […]

Different Christmases

Tuesday, December 24th, 2013

Every year my family gets questions about how we celebrate Christmas. People realize that I am American but that our family is somehow Swedish. It is a good question. Different cultures celebrate holidays in their own ways. The main Christmas celebration might be the day before. It might be on the day. Some celebrations carry […]

Whither the Source?

Sunday, December 15th, 2013

Sources give us information. That information is the same no matter who looks at it. A researcher might miss something but that missed information is there whether we see it or not. Other times information only becomes meaningful when placed in context. The source has the information but the knowledge needed to interpret it needs […]

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 […]

No More Mr. Nice Pilgrim

Sunday, December 1st, 2013

Last week I wrote a bit about Mayflower passenger George Soule. One thing that I mentioned was that he wrote a will that names his children. He did his genealogical duty. What I didn’t mention was a very interesting detail of his probate. George gave, or had already given, something to each of his surviving […]

If April Showers Bring Mayflowers…

Sunday, November 24th, 2013

It is that time of year when children’s thoughts veer from pumpkins to Pilgrims to prancing hooves in rapid succession. Genealogical research won’t put a jack-o-lantern or a flying reindeer into their family trees but what about a Pilgrim? Through a child’s eyes, the level of reality is about the same and, even to many […]

Checking Stories and Finding Pasts

Sunday, November 17th, 2013

Yesterday was the second annual “Exploring Your Swedish Roots” at the Swedish American Museum in Chicago. I was one of the researchers who helped people with their Swedish research problems. I always enjoy events like this. In a way it was almost an athletic event. Every half hour, for five hours, a new research problem […]

Nudging Destiny

Sunday, October 27th, 2013

I sometimes wonder if things that people know about their past when growing up or even the way that they are named influences them later in life. I know that being named for ancestors and hearing stories about them played a role in my becoming a genealogist so it must happen to other people as […]

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