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Pure Research

Sunday, December 20th, 2015

This is part 2 of a multi-part post. Part one was If at First You Succeed, Try, Try Again. Another reason to keep searching, even after finding “the answer,” is that if we only look for the answers, we are limited by our ability to imagine the questions. In the sciences, there are the concepts […]

If at First You Succeed, Try, Try Again

Monday, December 14th, 2015

Often when we do a deep and thorough search for records it is because less deep and less thorough searching has not given a result. We search until we find what we were looking for and then search no further. There is another, and in the end much better, reason to make that thorough search. […]

A Time to Think about Time

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015

Getting into the minds of the people I research is important to me. It can help lead the way to discoveries. It also makes those people so much more real. It also helps to remind me that our ancestors were a fascinating combination of just-like-us and totally alien. If we assume that they were all […]

The Genealogists’ Alphabet, part H

Sunday, November 29th, 2015

Sometimes the past doesn’t need to be so distant to seem far away. Cleaning out things that the kids have outgrown turned up one of those typical alphabet books that are for children that can’t yet read. The kind of book whose genealogist version might start— A is for antecedent, those things that came before. […]

It’s About-Time

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

Genealogists spend much of there existence in “about-time,” that time that is neither known nor unknown, that twilight between mystery and understanding. Yet about-time doesn’t need to be as mysterious as it often seems. There is usually some information hiding behind the word “about.” Perfect-World Type of About-Time Where do we find “about 1811” in […]

When a Family Dies

Sunday, November 15th, 2015

A few days ago I was reading a compiled genealogy that speculated about an epidemic. It is a quite reasonable speculation. Several members of an extended family as well as some neighbors all died in the space of a few weeks. What the contagion was, or even if the speculation is correct at all, may […]

Shattered Families

Sunday, November 8th, 2015

There is a type of genealogical problem that I think of as the shattered family. Something goes wrong, often a combination of poverty and the death of a parent, and family seems to fly apart, like shattering glass. One of the best ways to recognize the person that one is researching, is to find them […]

“If Any” and The Null Hypothesis

Sunday, November 1st, 2015

There is a concept in statistical testing called “the null hypothesis.” It would be somewhat difficult to perform experiments on our ancestors to check statistically what records they would leave behind under different conditions and learn the probabilities of those records being preserved to our time. Simply put, we can’t do statistical tests on our […]

Genealogical Illusions

Sunday, October 25th, 2015

We don’t actually experience reality. We experience our model of reality plus some immediate sensory inputs. The inputs serve not just to fill in the immediate holes in our model but also to update the model as well. That sounds a lot like research. We gather information until we can build up a model of […]

The Chicago Cubs and Deep Time

Sunday, October 11th, 2015

This is an odd time of year for any fan of the Chicago Cubs. October is the time to consider who should be traded, wonder if there is hope for next year, wonder if they will ever return to the World Series, and generally think off season type thoughts. Yet, somehow this year there are […]

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