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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 […]

Corrupt Ancestors (and Other Hard Drive Problems)

Sunday, October 4th, 2015

This will be a short and belated post. A few days ago, my ancestors became corrupt. I didn’t find them in prison or court records. I found that they were imprisoned on my computer’s hard drive. Presumably they were doing hard time. When I would normally have been writing something genealogical, I was instead erasing […]

Spam! Spam! Spam!

Sunday, September 27th, 2015

Ancestors, everyone has them, and spam, everyone gets it. So, I hope you’re asking yourself, where’s the connection, beside the ubiquity, that is. A lot of the spam that I have gotten lately is of what I think of as the “Dear Loyal Walmart Shopper” variety. You can send a message with that opening to […]

Genealogy Related Injuries

Sunday, September 20th, 2015

When I lived in Sweden, people would often joke about how a particular quirk in their thinking was a “work related injury.” It can happen to anyone. Some things become so deeply ingrained that they affect the way with think and it comes out in some odd ways. So how does genealogy affect they way […]

Researching at the Veil

Monday, September 7th, 2015

A veil can be a piece of cloth used to hide a face. It can also be anything that conceals or obscures. “Beyond the veil” is defined as a hidden, mysterious place. I can’t think of any aspect of genealogy that doesn’t interest me, but there are some that hold a special fascination. One is […]

The Genealogists’ Alphabet, part G

Sunday, August 30th, 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 appendix, written by the family sages. […]


Sunday, August 23rd, 2015

When everything is connected to everything else, for better or for worse, everything matters. Bruce Mau I ran into that quote a few days ago. Bruce Mau is a designer and architect, not a genealogist, but this is one of those concepts that genealogist need to consider. We often think about researching an ancestor. We […]

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